Friday, November 2, 2012

TGIFassy! (1102) [updated]

This question was posted by Fassinator Barbara at the FF pinterest board and she is seeking help for an academic project. If you have something to offer, please provide good feedback to help her with her paper. Thanks!

Michael Fassbender as the New Masculinity

Dear all, I have a request for you: I am preparing an academic presentation at my uni in Dec on Michael as an epitome of New Masculinity. I was wondering if you could help me gather the ideas together... Would you care to share on: 1) what 'New Man' means to you (in contrast to hegemonic/patriarchal masculinity) and 2) how Michael represents a 'New Man' (if he does - or does he?). Help an academic out, please! :)


Simone said...

1. New Man/New Masculinity to me means a man with complete and total self-confidence, is carefree, doesn't care what others think about him, but is compassionate about other people and has a strong belief system (whatever it is). He is vain, but not to the point of being conceited, and he is aware of his feminine side. The new man is not afraid of women who are smart, and is both conservative and liberal. He is a free-spirit and doesn't need the standard bullshit about how to be a man, in order to be a man.

2. Michael represents a 'new man' easily compared to many of his Hollywood counterparts. Perhaps his European roots have made him different than the rest off the bat by default. But I also think that his completely carefree and honest nature makes him so sincerely charming that both men and women are attracted to him. A new man is a guy that everyone can feel comfortable with, and either want to be with, or be like.

I'm sure I can add more later. :)

émilie said...

For me, it's impossible to define the new man without defining the new woman at the same time, because the frontier between masculinity and femininity is blurred now. Each gender had its defined social role and it was difficult to escape what society had intended for you. A new man and a new woman have this in common that they cherish their freedom and independence. Michael is a new man because the woman he loves is his equal.

Varekai said...

It's funny that I almost consider him the opposite of a 'new' man, although I can see what you're trying to get at, but that I feel it's society that has this 'new' perception. Part of the attraction that I think some have, is that he's just a honest hard working man who believes in the small ('BIG') things-family, love, self drive etc. The things that actually matter. I wouldn't say that's new at all and more old school than anything, and IMO when you consider "Hollywood," I don't know him personally but it seems like he does not fit that fake plastic Hollywood shell which is part of what sets him apart. It may be considered new I suppose, but he's more like a welcomed reminder of what so many people in positions like his have lost, or where we as society have misplaced our own values and sense of importance. He's not afraid to follow that-to thine own self, be true, when nowadays so much effort is wasted on entertaining others' perceptions of ourselves. Few actually can live by that, and I think in Fassbender's case it's because he's one of those who can and just happens to have a more scrutinzed and public life style and we get to see more of it. Don't get me wrong, I think it's wonderful and very admirable, which kind of falls into that whole appealing and attraction thing he has... That and him being physically attractive is the one-two punch. Simone, I'm interested to hear more about the project. Keep us posted and best of wishes. :)

Fingersmith said...

Hi guys, here's Barbara, I'm the one doing the project. Thanks for your answers. Maybe I should clarify a little what I have in mind when I think of Michael as "New Man", as this is an elusive concept at best (some claim it does not exist at all!). I probably should start with a caveat that I'm thinking of a heterosexual, white, middle-class man identifying as male (there are other types of masculinities of course, but as we're talking Michael, then that's the type we're talking I guess).
I was thinking about "New Man" as an equal & fitting partner of a feminist (post-feminist?) woman of the 21st century, or the opposite of hegemonic masculinity. Hegemonic masculinity is described in feminism as typical for patriarchy: hegemonic male dominates females and other males through power and violence; it's about "oppression, exploitation, power and social control."[Connell 2005] So I was thinking, someone opposite to that, a non-hegemonic New Man, would:
- first of all, not be afraid to appear weak/ sensitive/ fragile. This includes avoiding violence, accepting one's feminine side, having geekish/nerdish features, not afraid to appear gay (in hegemonic masculinity, femininity/geekiness/homosexuality = weakness)
- accept and embrace feminist agenda (including not being afraid to become an object of feminine gaze)
- not being afraid of gender-bending (bromance, drag).
Needless to say, I see all these features in Michael. He often says that a ‘real man’ is not afraid to discover a feminine side to himself, and in interview on “Shame” he advocated the end of the male gaze in films (i.e. only women get fully naked, for the pleasure of male viewers), although not in the same words (one could say is an unconscious feminist, LOL). He’s a total geek when it comes to literature and film (which keeps amazing me LOL). The fact that he’s absolutely aware of his sexuality and does not mind being on object of female visual titillation is visible in the choice of roles he takes (“Fish Tank” most of all). He’s got no problem getting his a** kicked by a woman (“Haywire”) or show in drag (XMFC). I won’t even mention FassAvoy and the slash fiction they’re object of, which they totally fuelled in their interviews, playing with the idea of bromance.
It’s definitely work in progress and I’m not saying I have a clear-cut answer on “New Man” or Michael as one. I might be totally going at a tangent here as far as “new masculinities” are concerned. There are definitely more such examples in pop culture, Michael’s not the only one (Ryan Gosling seems to be quite a feminist icon…). Also, Michael’s got a lot of features which make him ‘a man’s man’, e.g. bikes, partying hard, smoking, scruffy image he sports most of the time… Does that make him ‘an old-fashioned masculinity’? Or maybe it is peripheral to this discussion? …
Thank you once more for your answers, they definitely keep my brain cells busy. :-) I hope more Fassinators will join the discussion!

Vera said...

For me the most influential feature of a New Man is that he is not afraid to be seen as vulnerable and to show his emotions.
If we look at Michael, the very choice of his profession shows that he is ready to live through not only his emotions, but through the sensitive side of the people he portrays.

I also think that there is one weak point in the traditional Real Man concept, which states that a man should always keep his feelings or problems he is going through to himself and to cope with the hardships on his own, whereas in fact it could be of much more use if he shared his negative experience with someone, and together they found a better solution. In some cultures it basically implies that a man should never ever show his feelings or publicly confess his weaknesses. But to my mind this requires even more strenght and courage not only to confess but to overcome the prejudice. In Michael's case I think this can be applied to the fact that Michael is absolutely ok with aknowledging that there were periods when he could not get any work (which can be considered as a weakness of sort) and insists that this experience not only did not brake him but made his stronger and helped him a lot to feel grateful of where he stands and what he has at the moment.

Secondly, there is this vulnerability thing. Of course we all understand that one should not mix an actor with his roles, but not every actor has the guts to accept the role where he will be as emotionally exposed to the audience as Michael was in Hunger and Shame. Although these movies involve a lot of physicality, it seems like Michael has not got a body at all, since to me he seemed like a tangle of nerves and pure, raw emotion. Thus, he is not only not afraid to show his emotions, but makes them a perfect tool to convey the essense of the charcters he's playing, to achieve every possible height in his profession and makes that a road to self-fullfillment, which is of course important for every man, both traditional and new.

Hupsakeek said...

When I saw your “question “ on pinterest and the FF blog I immidiatly must think of an article in a newspaper about Dirk Reynders, researcher at the Free University of Brussels. I liked it. Here is a resume.

Did you seen enough woman breasts and buttocks? No problem, the new man has not much more to the body. "Sois beau et tais-toi." (Be beautiful and shut up).

Due to the strongly changing society (status of women has changed in recent decades. She has made money and wants to be entertained.) Nowadays the man is become a sex object also. The modern woman is looking for lust and the commerce embrace that desire. And thus the woman became the hunter and the man became the prey. Because women have become wealthy, men lose power.

Movies and TV series such as Spartacus (and Shame) are not afraid of lowering the camera. The leading role in the renewed visual culture is reserved for the penis. A subject of discord. Certainly, the penis exudes virility and power that is hard to deny - but also vulnerability. And not everyone is entirely happy with that. For many straight men, the sight of a naked penis the ultimate castration. Looking at the gender of another man, makes a man vulnerable. It's not okay to admit that the other guy is a good looking guy.

The undaunted Marlboro Man completely in leather in control of his horse, it's history. No clothes, no prairie and flirt says the new motto. The stereotype of men as active, eager and sadistic has been replaced by images of men who are wanted, passive and masochistic . Men need no longer to be sturdy, but soft. They want to be wanted, they are a bit narcissistic and a little insecure. As a result, it is easier to see them as an object. He screams as it were, "Take me, please." It is no longer the man that "takes" the woman but vice versa.

Increasingly encounters of a bare-chested man is because of the emancipation of the gay male. The gay culture has developed its own aesthetic which is seeped into the mainstream visual culture. Brands are no longer afraid of what gay-eroticism. All this fits in with the crumbling of the autocracy of the dichotomy man / woman. All around us we see that heteronormativity is nuanced. Gender-related expectations are broken. Everyone wonders today what it means to be a man or a woman. " Gender bending, the phenomenon whereby people consciously adopt visual characteristics traditionally associated with the opposite sex, is hip, also in visual culture. The classic male gaze, which is often described as the art and which men arrogant and provocative look into the camera, is replaced by the gay gaze or the female gaze.

I think that Michael is attractive to women because people are used to reflect themselves and if a man show some "female properties" a women will recognize that and embrace it. For me a new man is not affraid to show his vulnerability, but he also is aware of his masculinity. It is the same struggle woman has decades ago. Finding the balance between femininity and invincibility (don't know the right word for it), but it's that recognition, what does it for me ;)

Varekai said...

^Is a good read. Thanks for sharing that and I think it absolutely helps shape the original question posed.

émilie said...

My dear Hupsakeek, once again, you've done an awesome job!

Anonymous said...
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Fingersmith said...

Hupsakeek, this is awesome, that's exactly what I was looking for, thanks! Do you think Raynders sees that as a positive or a negative development? If you have a link to this article in full, please share!
Guys, this is fantastic, I can see my paper getting shape with your insightful comments. Thank you!

Hupsakeek said...

The link to the full article is

I found another interesting link (the new man spread his legs)

Both articles are in Dutch. If you use google translate to convert it to English you will see strange sentences. This is because of the Dutch grammar, but you'll figure it out. Succes

BTW: dr. Dirk Reynders is a teacher in visual communication

Fingersmith said...

Thank you Hupsakeek, you're a star! :-*