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‘Marketplace Masculinities’ Within the International Public Arena of Global Media: Towards a Christian Spiritual Approach to Male Embodiment and ‘Genital Ensoulment’

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AbstractUnder the pressure of deconstruction, criticism within the gender discourse, and the fading away of the traditional patriarchal male role functions, male identity is in a crisis. Due to the impact of the mass media, masculinities are currently mostly determined by the healthiness, body-image and achievement ethics of a market-driven economy (marketplace masculinities). It becomes closely associated with the instant need-satisfaction of a consumerist society. As a public issue, maleness is moulded by power, six-pack fitness, wealth, success, money and phallus. Plastic instant masculinity is shaped by the ancient old symbol of phallus, the post-modern Zeus: Rambo, and the leisure idol of playboy. This article considers the extent to which the Christian spiritual notion of phronesis within inhabitational theology can reframe masculinities, and argues that from a spiritual perspective males can grow into compassionate men. The article concludes that patriarchal headship should be transformed and replaced by the theological public of servant-hood and the trans-cultural notion of an eschatological identity.

1. FN11) Aguilar refers to the fact that public theology has become the face of theology, mostly for systematic theologians (Mario I. Aguilar, ‘Public Theology from the Periphery: Victims and Theologians’, International Journal of Public Theology, 1:3–4 (2007), 321–37.
2. FN22) Before founding the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology at the University of Stellenbosch, we visited Beyers Naudé regarding the founding of the centre. He made us promise not to abuse his name for ‘academic window dressing’, but, given apartheid, to probe critically the ideologies that determine human identity.
3. FN33) David Tracy, ‘The Foundations of Practical Theology’, in Don S. Browning, Practical Theology (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1983), pp. 76–7.
4. FN44) See ibid., p. 76.
5. FN55) See Don S. Browning, Francis S. Schüssler Fiorenza, Habermas, Modernity and Public Theology (New York: Crossroads, 1992).
6. FN66) Most theologians start with Christology and argue that theology is intrinsically ‘public’ due to the incarnation of Christ and the ‘humanity of God’ (see Dirkie Smit, ‘No Ulterior Motive and Public Theology?’, in Eddie A. J. G. Van der Borght, ed., Religion without Ulterior Motive, Studies in Reformed Theology, vol. 13 (Boston/Leiden: Brill, 2006), pp. 29–39). My starting point is from the perspective of pneumatology: not incarnation but inhabitation (see Daniël Louw, Cura Vita: Illness and the Healing of Life (Wellington: Lux Verbi, 2008), pp. 1–100.
7. FN77) Max L. Stackhouse, ‘Theology, Public’, in Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement, 2nd edn (Geneva: WCC Publications, 2002), pp. 1131–1133 at p. 1131. In terms of Stackhouse’s four publics, the role of the social media and the internet could be a fifth public: the cyber-and-social-web public.
8. FN88) Dirkie Smit, ‘Notions of the Public and Doing Theology’, International Journal of Public Theology, 1:3–4 (2007), 431–54 at 434.
9. FN99) Ibid., 454. See also Dirkie Smit, ‘What does ‘Public’ Mean? Questions with a View to Public Theology’, in Len Hansen, ed., Christian in Public: Aims, Methodologies and Issues in Public Theology, Beyers Naudé Centre Series on Public Theology (Stellenbosch: African Sun MeDia, 2007), pp. 11–46 at p. 39.
10. FN1010) On male identity, see J. S. Van der Watt, ‘Images of Men and Masculinities within Cultural Contexts: a Pastoral Assessment’, PhD thesis, University of Stellenbosch, 2007 and J. S. Van der Watt, ‘The Peril of Patriarchal Power: Distorting Dignity and Intimacy in (Male) Sexuality’, in C. Hugo, ed., Caring for the Soul and Life: Essays in Honour of Daniël Louw (Pretoria: CB Powell Bible Centre UNISA, forthcoming), pp. 72–9.
11. FN1111) J. Collins, The Mind of Kierkegaard (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), p. 52.
12. FN1212) D. Galasiński, Men and the Language of Emotions (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), p. 81 and pp. 12–17; see also J. S. Kahn, Introduction to Masculinities (Chichester and Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), pp. 2–3 and M. Cohen, Fashioning Masculinity: National Identity and the Language in the Eighteenth Century (London and New York: Routledge, 1996), pp. 26–41.
13. FN1313) See I. M. Harris, Messages Men Hear: Constructing Masculinities (London: Taylor and Francis, 1995), p. 104.
14. FN1414) J. Steinberg, Three Letter Plague: A Young Man’s Journey through a Great Epidemic (Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 2008), p. 6.
15. FN1515) ‘Men and boys are supposed to be strong, have many sexual partners, get what they want through forms of aggression and have a lack of sensitivity for feelings. The strict gender norms hinder dialogue, healthy relationships and positive sexual relations’ (RFSU, ‘Tell Me More! Children’s Rights and Sexuality in the Context of HIV and AIDS in Africa’, The Swedish Association for Sexual Education (RFSU: Sweden, 2007), p. 15.
16. FN1616) Steinberg, Three Letter Plague, p. 6.
17. FN1717) Ibid., p. 326.
18. FN1818) M. Sidebé, ‘The Future of AIDS Starts Today’, Outlook—Special Section: The State of the AIDS Response, 2 (2010), 32–3.
19. FN1919) J. Rutherford, Men’s Silence : Predicaments in Masculinity (London and New York: Routledge, 1992).
20. FN2020) R. Horrocks, Masculinity in Crisis: Myths, Fantasies and Realities (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1994), p. 143. See also A. Clare, On Men: Masculinity in Crisis (London: Chatto & Windus, 2000).
21. FN2121) Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness (New York: Citadel Press, 1968), p. 54.
22. FN2222) Ibid.
23. FN2323) Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1965), p. 29.
24. FN2424) Ibid., p. 47.
25. FN2525) W. Smith, Hungry as the Sea (London: Pan Books, 1979), p. 130.
26. FN2626) Men’s Health (September 1999).
27. FN2727) Men’s Health (January 2000).
28. FN2828) Men’s Health (April 2000).
29. FN2929) Men’s Health (August 2000).
30. FN3030) Men’s Health (March 2001).
31. FN3131) Men’s Health (October 2001).
32. FN3232) Men’s Health (April 2004).
33. FN3333) Men’s Health (February 2006).
34. FN3434) Men’s Health (March 2006).
35. FN3535) Men’s Health (April 2009).
36. FN3636) Men’s Health (March 2009).
37. FN3737) Men’s Health (June 2009).
38. FN3838) Men’s Health (January 2010).
39. FN3939) A. Petersen, Unmasking the Masculine: Men and Identity in a Sceptical Age (London: Sage Publications, 1998), p. 15.
40. FN4040) Rutherford, Men’s Silence, p. 173.
41. FN4141) Ibid., p. 178.
42. FN4242) M. Mythos, ‘Gewalt und Religion. Ein Beitrag zur mythentheoretischen Analyse des populären Kinofilms’, Berliner Theologische Zeitschrift, 23:2 (2006), 199–213.
43. FN4343) Horrocks, Masculinity in Crisis, pp. 138–46.
44. FN4444) See T. Carrigan, B. Connell and J. Lee, ‘Toward a New Sociology of Masculinity’, in P. F. Murphy ed., Feminism and Masculinities (Oxford: University Press, 2004), pp. 151–65 at p. 153; see also N. Edley and M. Wetherall, Men in Perspective: Practice, Power and Identity (London and New York: Prentice Hall. 1995), p. 129.
45. FN4545) S. L. Dworkin and F. L. Wachs, ‘The Morality/Manhood Paradox: Masculinity, Sport, and the Media’, in M. S. Kimmel and M. A. Messner, eds, Men’s Lives (Boston: Pearson, 2004), pp. 507–21 at p. 508.
46. FN4646) D. Gauntlett, Media, Gender and Identity (London: Routledge, 2002), p. 38.
47. FN4747) Ibid.
48. FN4848) Ibid., pp. 187–91.
49. FN4949) Ibid., pp. 159–63.
50. FN5050) See T. F. Driver, ‘Growing Up Christian and Male’, in B. Krondorfer, ed., Men’s Bodies, Men’s Gods: Male Identities in a (Post-)Christian Culture (New York and London: New York University Press, 1996), pp. 43–65.
51. FN5151) H. Goldberg, The Hazards of Being Male: Surviving the Myth of Masculine Privilege (New York: Nash Publishing, 1976), pp. 112–13.
52. FN5252) M. L. Stemmeler, ‘Empowerment: The Construction of Gay Religious Identities’, in Krondorfer, ed., Men’s Bodies, Men’s Gods, pp. 94–109 at p. 95.
53. FN5353) I. M. Harris, Messages Men Hear: Constructing Masculinities (London: Taylor and Francis, 1995), p. 105.
54. FN5454) The search for the ‘deep masculine’, a sort of primal vitality and distinctly masculine spirituality is the endeavour of mythopoetic men’s movements (see S. Mirsky, ‘The Arguments for the Elimination of Masculinity’, in Krondorfer, ed., Men’s Bodies, Men’s Gods, pp. 27–41 at pp. 34–5).
55. FN5555) At stake is the question whether the HIV/AIDS pandemic, with the emphasis on circumcision and condomizing, is not reintroducing the powerful image of the erect male organ now in the disguise of a rubberized tool.
56. FN5656) See W. G. Doty, ‘Baring the Flesh: Aspects of Contemporary Male Iconography’, in Krondorfer, ed., Men’s Bodies, Men’s Gods, pp. 267–308 at p. 299.
57. FN5757) S. Bordo, The Male Body: A New Look at Men in Public and in Private (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1999), p. 43.
58. FN5858) E. Monick, Phallos: Sacred Image of the Masculine (Toronto: Inner City Books, 1987), p. 9.
59. FN5959) Horrocks, Masculinity in Crisis, pp. 16–20.
60. FN6060) ‘The phallus, the prized male erection, is taken as the quintessential symbol of manliness and the idealized phallus is big, hard, and up’ (J. B. Nelson, ‘Epilogue’ in Krondorfer, ed., Men’s Bodies, Men’s Gods, pp. 311–18 at p. 315). Humans have also emphasized those qualities in the divine; God, too, must be ‘big, hard and up’: sovereign in power, righteous in judgement and transcendent.
61. FN6161) Bordo, The Male Body, pp. 32–44.
62. FN6262) The phallic symbol has played an important part in cultic worship. Schwartz refers to the Greek gods Poseidon, Apollo and Zeus, who were frequently sculpted in Greek art with their penises fully displayed. The divine phallus is also evident in ancient Near Eastern mythology (Eilberg Schwartz, God’s Phallus and other Problems for Men and Monotheism (Boston: Beacon, 1994), p. 41).
63. FN6363) M. Kibby and Costello, ‘Displaying the Phallus: Masculinity and the Performance of Sexuality on the Internet’, in P. F. Murphy ed., Feminism and Masculinities (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 214–27 at p. 214.
64. FN6464) It is Haldeman’s contention that touching of the penis and masturbation can, at least, serve to put men back in touch with themselves (S. Haldeman, ‘Bringing Good News to the Body: Masturbation and Male Identity’, in Krondorfer, ed., Men’s Bodies, Men’s Gods, pp. 111–15 at p. 115).
65. FN6565) R. Tikkanen, Knowledge-Based HIV Prevention Intervention—Targeting Men Who Have Sex with Men: A Summary and Discussion of Six International Research Reviews (Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare: Edita Västra Aros, 2008), p. 36.
66. FN6666) ‘Let’s PLAY Safe’, A Special Edition of Outlook, 2 (July 2010), 82–3.
67. FN6767) According to recent reports, the Pope is revising his stand on the use of condoms (see D. P. Pusateri, ‘Faith-Based Organizations and the HIV/AIDS Pandemic’, Human Rights: Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities American Bar Association, 37:3 (2010), 12–13 at 13).
68. FN6868) E. C. Green and A. Herling, The ABC Approach to Preventing the Sexual Transmission of HIV: Common Questions and Answers (McLean: Christian Connections for the International Health and Medical Service Corporation International, 2007), p. 9.
69. FN6969) Ibid., p. 28.
70. FN7070) Ibid., p. 34.
71. FN7171) Masculinities share the negatively defining characteristic of not being feminine/ like women and the positively defining characteristic of having more power (social, physical, cosmic) than women/that which is feminine. See Mirsky, ‘The Arguments for the Elimination of Masculinity’, in Krondorfer, ed., Men’s Bodies, Men’s Gods, p. 31.
72. FN7272) See P. Bourdieu, Masculine Domination (Oxford: Polity, 2001).
73. FN7373) M. E. Mowrey, ‘The Accommodating Other: Masculinity and the Construction of Feminine Identity’, in S. B. Boyd, W. M. Longwood and M. W. Muesse, eds, Redeeming Men: Religion and Masculinities (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996), pp. 118–131 at p. 119.
74. FN7474) E. Rubin, ‘Veiled Rebellion’, National Geographic, 218: 6 (2010), 28–53 at 36.
75. FN7575) Ibid., 36.
76. FN7676) S. Smith, ‘Fear and Power in the Lives of Men’, in Boyd et al., eds, Redeeming Men, pp. 7–19 at p. 8.
77. FN7777) Driver, ‘Growing Up Christian and Male’, p. 55.
78. FN7878) A. Mirandé, “ ‘Macho’: Contemporary Conceptions”, in Kimmel and Messner, Men’s Lives, p. 29.
79. FN7979) Patriarchy is ever-present. See N. Kamau, AIDS, Sexuality, and Gender: Experiences of Women in Kenyan Universities (Eldoret: Zapf Chancery, 2009), p. vii.
80. FN8080) See C. C. Neuger, J. N. Poling, ‘Gender and Theology’, in C. C. Neuger and J. N. Poling eds, The Care of Men (Nashville: Abingdon 1997), pp. 32–45.
81. FN8181) P.L. Culbertson, Counselling Men (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994), p. 22. See also D. Browning, ‘The Problem of Man’, in D. Blankenhorn, D. Browning and M. S. Van Leeuwen, eds, Does Christianity Teach Male Headship? (Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans 2004), pp. 2–12.
82. FN8282) J. N. Poling, ‘Male Violence Against Women and Children’, in Neuger and Poling, eds, The Care of Men, pp. 138–162 at p. 140. See also M. M. Fortune, Sexual Violence: The Unmentionable Sin (Cleveland: Ohio, 1983).
83. FN8383) See James N. Poling, Understanding Male Violence: Pastoral Care Issues (St Louis: Chalice Press, 2003).
84. FN8484) ‘When the body is experienced as a thing, it has the right to live only as a machine owned by the self’ (J. B. Nelson, Embodiment: An Approach to Sexuality and Christian Theology (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1978), p. 41).
85. FN8585) N. Edley and M. Wetherall, Men in Perspective: Practice, Power and Identity (London and New York: Prentice Hall. 1995), p. 136.
86. FN8686) T. Tasker, ‘Dumb Movies For Dumb People: Masculinity, the Body, and the Voice in Contemporary Action Cinema’, in S. Cohan and I. R. Hark, eds, Screening the Male: Exploiting Masculinities in Hollywood Cinema (London: Routledge, 1993), pp. 230–44 at p. 242.
87. FN8787) Ibid.
88. FN8888) K. Panghorn, ‘Family Violence and Women’s Lib’, in F. Baumli, ed., Men Freeing Men: Exploding the Myth of the Traditional Male (Jersey City: New Atlantis Press, 1985), p. 214.
89. FN8989) M. S. Kimmel, ‘Masculinity as Homophobia: Fear, Shame, and Silence in the Construction of Gender Identity’ in P. F. Murphy ed., Feminism and Masculinities (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 182–99 at pp. 183–4.
90. FN9090) Kimmel, ‘Masculinity as Homophobia’, p. 189.
91. FN9191) See Louise Du Toit, ‘Rape Understood as Torture: What is the Responsibility of Men?’, in E. Conradie and L. Clowes eds, Rape: Rethinking Male Responsibility (Stellenbosch: EFSA, 2003), pp. 36–67 (Du Toit asserts that rape is irresponsible male behaviour and, as an act of power, is sexual terrorism, p. 49).
92. FN9292) Hence, in addressing rape, Du Toit concludes that men must refuse to be men in as far as the conception of masculinity involves enforcing one’s will against opposition (ibid., p. 64).
93. FN9393) Doty, ‘Baring the Flesh’, in Krondorfer, ed., Men’s Bodies, Men’s Gods, p. 268.
94. FN9494) When, in advertising, the relationship of the partly clothed male icon or female icon to the product is obscure, the partly nude body confronts the viewer with something numinous (ibid., p. 269).
95. FN9595) Ibid., p. 275.
96. FN9696) Ibid., p. 279.
97. FN9797) The Greek word for practical wisdom (phronesis) is equivalent to the Hebrew hokmah (skill in living). It denotes a creative understanding of God wherein divine wisdom (Sophia in Greek), together with the notion of Christ’s incarnation and the inhabitiation of the Spirit within the human body, plays a fundamental role. See J. Goetzman, ‘Mind (phronēsis)’, in C. Brown ed., Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 2 (Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1976), p. 616.
98. FN9898) G. Dalbey, Healing the Masculine Soul (Dallas/London: Ward Publishing, 1988).
99. FN9999) D. G. Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), p. 56.
100. FN100100) Ibid., p. 77.
101. FN101101) According to Nelson, “ ‘real men’ prize sex, but find eros foreign” (Nelson, ‘Epilogue’, in Krondorfer, ed., Men’s Bodies, Men’s Gods, p. 315). Nelson’s plea is for an erotic transformation of men’s bodies (ibid., pp. 313–14).
102. FN102102) Whereas, in films such as Pretty Woman for example, love is introduced as a mean to an end: to save, to heal, in this case a prostitute, from decadence and loneliness. See J. Hermann, Sinnmachine Kino. Sinndeutung und Religion im populären Film (Gütersloh: Chr. Kaiser/Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 2002).
103. FN103103) See J. Watson, Male Bodies: Health, Culture and Identity (Buckingham/Philadelphia: University Press, 2000), pp. 4–5.
104. FN104104) Krondorfer, ed., ‘Introduction’, p. 12.
105. FN105105) See ibid., p. 13; see also Patrick Arnold, Wildmen, Warriors and Kings: Masculine Spirituality and the Bible (New York: Cross Road, 1991), p. 52.
106. FN106106) Bordo, The Male Body, pp. 221–3.
107. FN107107) B. Ceyson et al., ‘The Great Tradition of Sculpture’, in G. Duby, J.-L. Daval, eds, Sculpture: From the Renaissance to the Present Day (Köln: Taschen, 2006), pp. 698–703.
108. FN108108) Wholeness can be a vague and slippery notion however. W. W. H. Lamb and H. Thomson, ‘Wholeness, Dignity and the Ageing Self: A Conversation between Philosophy and Theology’, in E. MacKinlay, J. W. Ellor and S. Pickard, Aging, Spirituality and Pastoral Care: A Multi-National Perspective (New York: The Haworth Pastoral Press, 2001), pp. 57–76 at pp. 60–69.
109. FN109109) See G. B. Collins and T. Culbertson, Mental Illness and Psychiatric Treatment: A Guide for Pastoral Counsellors (New York: The Hayworth Press, 2003), pp. 1–7. Modern psychiatry recognizes the importance of the spiritual aspect of the person.
110. FN110110) Thus, male identity is not determined by performance but by compassion.

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