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I need a father who’s a role model: Yardsticks of Masculinities in American Beauty

Publication Type : Journal Article

Source : Turkish Online Journal of Qualitative Inquiry (TOJQI)

Campus : Amritapuri

School : School of Arts and Sciences

Year : 2021

Abstract : The 1999 black comedy drama American Beauty directed by Sam Mendes and written by Alan Ball, portrays an image of contemporary society's gender roles. The movie shows the transformation of Lester Burnham from a submissive male to a dominant one, thus trying to achieve the ideals of hegemonic masculinity. "Hegemonic masculinity can be defined as the configuration of gender practice which embodies the currently accepted answer to the problem of the legitimacy of patriarchy, which guarantees (or is taken to guarantee) dominant position of men and the subordination of women." (Connell, 1995) Likewise, marginalised masculinities are also dominated by hegemonic masculinity. Colonel Frank Fitts, Lester's neighbour, with his aggression and violence towards his son, becomes an epitome of hegemonic masculinity. Lester, on the other hand, is an ignorant father, and is insouciant in the upbringing of his daughter. Parenthood according to hegemonic masculine ideals, imposes an image of toughness and apathy on the father and to always be a secondary figure in the rearing of children. This image of toughness, violence and aggression comes with men identifying and being a "man." The toughness in men is also brought through body image, i.e., being muscularly built. Moreover, this supreme form of masculinity is homophobic and shows an inclination towards heterosexuality. Using the movie "American Beauty" and its characters, Lester and Colonel Fitts, the paper aims to prove the lethality of hegemonic masculinity. Exploring the aspects of homophobia, fatherhood, body image, and violence and aggression, the research studies how each factor contributes to the noxiousness of hegemonic masculinity.

Cite this Research Publication : Sita S, Soma Dutta and Aswathy Das K V "I need a father who’s a role model”: Yardsticks of Masculinities in American Beauty." Turkish Online Journal of Qualitative Inquiry (TOJQI) Volume 12, Issue 8, July 2021: 3011-3020.

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