The Great War And Male Virility

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The Great War was a pivotal moment where the idea of male virility was questioned. Changing societies and cultures affect the meaning of what defines a man. During the war, the warrior image of man was viewed as the ideal. This ideal placed pressure on males in which a man must meet certain criteria in order to claim his manhood. It is for this reason that the Great War was seen as an opportunity by men, where they could prove their virility by displaying warrior traits of aggression, endurance and camaraderie, defying all aspects that were associated with that of female qualities. With these ideas in mind, the repercussions of war left men in such a state of serious psychological and physical trauma that they suffered from Shell-Shock or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). To be a man meant the repression of emotions and the willingness to sacrifice oneself physically and emotionally for the good of their country. Lastly, those that did not enlist into war were bullied into it by a propagandistic scheme known as the White Feather Campaign. Definitions of masculinity have changed over the centuries with particular focus on the idea of male virility. The Great War influenced a society that idealised the warrior-type image of man. This image of man was the embodiment of male virility, in that it required a man to "deny all that is 'feminine' and soft in himself”. (Goldstein 266) Certain behavioural roles were then attached to both genders of male and female, where "cultural concepts of masculine and feminine are in many ways more rigid than biological gender". (Goldstein 252) This shows that males and females are stereotyped into categories of what society deems the normal way for one to act or to be perceived as. What is considered virility, depended on the changing societies and the ideas that help create different aspects of manliness by constructing perceived
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