The Aussie bloke: an investigation of local and global mythmaking and the contemporary Australian male

2017-02-16T03:01:01Z (GMT) by Waling, Andrea Marjorie
Contemporary narratives of masculinity within Australia have relied on the establishment and maintenance of particular tropes of an ‘ideal’ masculine identity, communicated through various forms of media. Scholars have examined historical representations of the Australian male identity within late nineteenth and early twentieth century art, literature and media, but very little has been done in unpacking the current circulating narratives and what Australian men have to say about these. This qualitative study examines the lived experiences of Australian men regarding how they understand and perceive their sense of masculinity in light of dominant narratives. It examines the process of mythmaking in the construction of these tropes, their continued currency in Australian society and how men respond to these ideologies of masculinity. Data for this study consists of two parts. The first, a qualitative content analysis of five Australian produced television shows and five Australian produced/editions of men’s lifestyle magazines that are for men, about men and targeted at men was conducted to determine what representations of masculinity are available for consumption. Magazines and shows analysed were purposively sampled. Next, in-depth interviews were conducted with twenty Australian men aged between eighteen and thirty-five years of age who identified as at least third generation Australian. Respondents were accessed by posting recruitment advertisements in online forums and classifieds websites, alongside posting physical copies around university campuses, coffee shops and public notice boards. Data analysis for both the content analysis and the interviews was qualitative and looked for recurring patterns regarding how masculinity is represented and recurring themes on how men perceive their own sense of masculinity. This study establishes that contemporary men in Australia are articulate in their descriptions of masculinity, claiming that a white, working-class masculine narrative is the ‘ideal’. Furthermore, they demonstrate that heterosexuality, family and sporting institutions play a significant role in the construction of this ideal and illustrated a classed form of Othering in their descriptions of ideal masculinity. This study found that there are a distinct set of masculine tropes found within the television shows and magazines that are linked by themes of class tensions, whiteness and heterosexuality. In such shows, masculinity is also represented as being under ‘pressure.' However, despite these articulations of what they consider to be masculine, these men demonstrated a lack of self-identification with both the ideal masculine identity they outlined and the pressures of masculinity in the magazines and television shows. They maintain that these pressures affect other men and not themselves, and were adamant in their claims that they do not ascribe to their idealised narrative. Therefore, this study demonstrates that these men do not ascribe to current academic theorisations about masculinity, nor do they identify with the representations presented before them. Rather, they highlight an emerging trend of masculinity as becoming a term of malediction.