Masculinity In Australia

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Australia is a nation that has prided itself on mateship and the character of those who live and work in the bush, men who exude masculinity. The suburban sprawl and modernisation has lessened the need for men to be innately masculine however society still expects men to be men. This paper will discuss and compare both literal and figurative references to masculinity in both the Summer of the Seventeenth Doll and Johnno. It will firstly look at the assumption of society that men of the bush are more masculine by nature, it will then discuss the role mateship plays in masculinity, this will be followed by looking at how the changing typography of society is bringing a new understanding of what masculinity is and lastly will look at how…show more content…
The Australia of the 1950s saw an increase in the suburban sprawl and with this a rise in nostalgia for the bush legend of the past (Murray 203), a legend revolving around masculinity, strength of body and mateship. In The Doll, cane cutters Roo and Barney evoke images of the bush legend; rugged, tough, athletic men working long hours in the harsh sun. During this season Roo is overtaken as top ganger by the younger more viral Johnny Dowd, an event which causes him to question his masculinity. His need to take up a job in a paint factory and making the decision to leave the bush behind and move to the suburbs is viewed as less masculine and this idea is reinforced by Olive as she rejects Roo’s marriage proposal ‘You think I’ll let it all end up in marriage? Every day – a paint factory? You think I’ll marry you?’ (Malouf 95). In contrast to these literal images of masculinity is the character of Dante in Johnno, who could be perceived as less masculine in nature being that he is quiet and more studious whereas the character of Johnno was seen to be the ‘consummate ocker larrikin’ (Abblitt 298) which is more aligned with societies views of masculinity. Johnno’s lack of a father figure in his early years was said to be the cause of his unruly behaviour (Malouf 22) society still viewed that boys required the influence of a paternal figure if…show more content…
The bush context of masculinity was linked to strength of body and character whereas within the city it was linked to providing for a family. The Doll’s Roo and Barney didn’t even need to speak for people to see their masculinity and gave an impression that men working in the city and living in the suburbs paled into comparison ‘After that, without a word, the regulars’d stand aside to let ‘em through – as if they were a couple of kings.’ (Lawler 10). Nancy gave up her fantasies of these rugged bush men and opted for a life of normalcy by marrying the book store owner, showing that it can be more enticing and masculine for a man to provide a stable home environment. With the ever increasing suburbia the figure of the Outback hero was being displaced as the national archetype and commenced to recede into a figurative as well as literal peripheral outback (Cousins). In Johnno, Dante’s masculinity, even when looking at the more modern view of masculinity, could be called into question. For all of his academic ability he failed to have any form of ambition ‘What astonished me, I think, was to discover that I was entirely without ambition. I found no need in myself to succeed on these terms.’ (Malouf 110) ‘I didn’t even have the comfort of being a victim. I was simply immobilized from within.’ (Malouf 110) This lack of ambition could be taken for a lack

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