Oppression and Depression: The Effects of White Masculinity

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Oppression and Depression: The Effects of White Masculinity

In Peter N. Stearns’ book Be a Man! he cites Nichols, Pleck and Sawyer as he makes the assertion that “Macho man, artificially and oppressively virile, asserts himself over hapless women and in fields of aggression ranging from big business to war, from raising of sons to the domestic cloistering of wives” (Nichols, Pleck and Sawyer). White men in America throughout history have guided themselves according to a particular set of social norms which defines their masculinity. Society embraces these defining characteristics and therefore sets standards for the men to live by and be judged by. John Steinbeck comments on the irony of these standards as he said “Men, kindness and
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As the reader sees, the Lavender Room at his cheap hotel will not even allow Holden to buy a drink.

The concept of being physically strong and that importance in eyes of white men is also accented in the book Moon in the Gutter. Bill Kerrigan feels very masculine in the beginning of the novel because of his “powerful build composed of hard muscle.” His physical strength gives him confidence in his masculinity when compared to other men he interacts with. When a few boys chase his sister around the blocks into an ice cream parlor, he feels confident in himself to be able to fight all of them alone, without any assistance. As one man against several, that is a lot of confidence.

In the play Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman continually stresses the importance of physical characteristics and charisma in his children. He is both thankful and proud that his sons are “built like Adonises.” His most proud moments in flashbacks in the play portray him congratulating Biff on his athletic successes. When Bernard attempts to speak to the Lomans about Biff’s troubles in school, Willy is rude to him and casts him off as a geek saying that his book smarts will not get him far and it is Biff’s personality that will help him to succeed. However, in the reality, it was Bernard’s hard work in school that helped him to attain a steady job and Biff’s lack of focus that ultimately disappoint his
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