Archive by Author

The Masculinities of Mario Dubsky

24 Oct

Detail of Good Friday Shadow _ Dubsky

I first discovered the work of Mario Dubsky in my final year of Art College, some 12 years ago. I was working on a series of paintings that explored bats and bat mythology. One day I was searching for some inspiration in the college library and came across a book of drawings by Dubsky[1]. At the time I looked upon his work with merely a visual art lens, enjoying his use of line and tone to create dark shadowy forms. The first drawing that grabbed my attention was ‘Good Friday Shadow’, which depicts a man naked but for an open shawl or shirt across his shoulders, arms out stretched in cruciform. It was the initial resemblance created by the out stretched arms and drooping shawl or shirt to that of the wings of a bat or vampiric creature that stirred my curiosity in Dubsky’s work.   Many of his drawings proved useful references to my own paintings at that time. Now at the early stages of a new series of painted works many years on, I have rediscovered Dubsky’s drawings and have been looking upon them with a masculinities lens.

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The Men Who Stare at Beer

1 Oct
by ClayDarcy

by ClayDarcy

Train-watching (aka ‘railfanning’) men and plane-watching men are synonymous with England, men who (allegedly) stare at goats synonymous with America; however, in Ireland if one looks in the right places you can find the men who stare at beer! I recently witnessed an animated conversation between two men that sparked my attention and got me thinking about these beer gazers. The conversation I witnessed brought to my mind a quintessential image associated with old Irish pubs: a lone man sitting at the bar or small table staring into a cold pint of beer or stout.   Usually this man is silent and still, occasionally he might throw a comment or two to the bar man or fellow beer gazer … if he feels obliged or inclined.

The conversation I witnessed went a little like this:

First Man (FM): Why didn’t you go out the other night?
Second Man (SM): Because I had no one to go out with.
FM: What do you mean?
SM: It would have been too late by the time I got to the pub and there wouldn’t have been anyone there I would have known.
FM: Could you not have rang someone and said “Hey are you coming down for a pint?” Or what about ya man Andy? Would he not have been there?
SM: It was too late. It would have been last orders by the time I got there.
FM: Are you telling me that you wouldn’t go into a pub by yourself for a pint?
SM: No, I wouldn’t go into a pub by myself, I would have to meet people there. You can’t just go in by yourself … on your own … I’d have to be meeting others, you know?
FM: WHAT? [total disbelief]… A real man can walk into a pub by himself get a pint and read a paper or just sit at the bar or whatever – A REAL MAN!

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The Eye of the Beholder

25 Aug

Whether you love it or loathe it, social media is omnipresent and every day millions of people upload millions of photographs to their social media pages for the visual consumption of friends, family and complete strangers.  John Berger (1972: 2) states that ‘every image embodies a way of seeing’.  Images posted on social media reveal much about those who made them, particularly how they view the world around them.  Unfortunately social media, through the types of images displayed there, can be used to reinforce dysmorphic ideas about our bodies and problematic views on gender and gender “normativity”.  Recently, I have been thinking about the types of visual representations of men and women that communicate dysmorphic or problematic messages, and specifically how others see [interpret] these representations.  What does a self-made image of a man or woman posted on a social media site mean to others who view them?  And to what degree can they impact on the spectator?  Do such images hold meaning for the spectator, are they more than a fleeting visual curiosity or distraction?  If such images do hold meaning; what meaning exactly?  I know of course the simple answer to these questions is – it depends!  Depends on the image and depends on who the spectator is.  None-the-less, I find this an interesting line of inquiry.
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Doing Selfies!

15 Jul


Everyone seems to be taking selfies these days – politicians, celebrities, sporting icons, ordinary Joe Soaps and even academics! However, selfies are not new phenomena. Humans have been making self-portraits for hundreds of years, yet contemporary selfies do represent something new. Having a background within the visual arts, my initial interest in selfies lay within their visual quality and aesthetic value. However, my interest in selfies has begun to shift from their visual merit to the degree to which they function as gender depictions.

Selfies are a treasure trove to the sociologist on so many levels. Selfies are first off an identity depiction, used to by the self-portraitist to capture a moment in time and/or to communicate a specific meaning or message. They reveal something of the growing complexity and intertwining of technology and social media in many people’s lives, and how technology is being used to fulfil various types of social interaction and communication. On another level, selfies are for many individuals a medium for communicating messages about their identity and provide a means of identity construction. In this way selfies are gender displays. Selfies illustrate how gender is socially constructed. For example, an individual might create and publicly display a self-portrait via social media that explicitly adheres to normative gender stereotypes, thus the selfie process becomes a gender performance. Continue reading

Visible Men, Yet Invisible as Men

9 Jun
Source: author

Source: author

When I first undertook my research into Irish men’s recreational use of illicit drugs, I knew that men were more likely to engage in illicit drug use than women. However, I hadn’t examined the literature in great depth at that time. Now having extensively researched the topic it is widely evidenced that men, the world over, are the predominant users of illicit drugs[1].

Like men elsewhere, Irish men are more likely to be binge drinkers[2] and users of illicit drugs than women[3]. Irish men are nearly twice as likely to use cannabis, ecstasy or cocaine[4]. Moreover, Irish men are more likely to experience problematic drug and alcohol use, and report difficulties in their lives as a result of their drug use. Irish men account for approximately 80% of those in drug treatment centres / services[5] and accounted for 72% of all drug related mortalities in Ireland during 2011[6].

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Man Tan

14 May
Source: Author's image

Source: Author’s image

What do Gerard Butler, George Hamilton, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey all have in common? You may have guessed it … they use fake tan.

Recently my wife interrupted me whilst I was studying in my little ‘man cave‘.  She was getting ready for a night out to celebrate her brother’s engagement and needed to apply some ‘Tan Building Moisturizer’ to her back and couldn’t reach.  Obediently, I obliged and applied the tanning cream, which I was instructed to make sure I washed off my hands.  On the way into the bathroom, I spied myself in the mirror and thought I looked a little pale and peaky … you guessed it … I rubbed what cream was left on my hands into my face.  I said nothing to my wife until later that evening, when I asked her whether I had a nice healthy glow?  She laughed when I told her of my impulsive act of ‘man-scaping’ and warned me I had better not tell her brothers or my friends, as they would probably make fun…

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Drinking Down Masculinity – An Unexpected Pub-crawl: Part Three

22 Apr


Source: Author

Source: Author


The Old Man’s Pub

The final leg of my unexpected pub-crawl was realized when my friend’s longstanding wish to enter a known ‘old man’s pub’ was fulfilled when we entered the Smelly Mosher.  Like a scene from a western movie, the Smelly Mosher’s patrons all turned on their bar stools to see three strangers enter their sacred domain.  Entering the Smelly Mosher was like entering a time capsule to the past and provided an opportunity to experience a masculine domain that is antiquated and obscure.  Continue reading

Drinking Down Masculinity – An Unexpected Pub-crawl: Part Two

15 Apr
Source: Author's photo

Source: Author’s photo


Trendy Men’s Pub

A simple catch up with two friends had inadvertently turned into a pub-crawl with a difference.  My night out with friends had turned into a sociological pub-crawl exploring men and masculinities.  Earlier we visited the Sporty Flamingo and the Timid Lamb; however, we didn’t prescribe to the masculinities offered in these pubs and had taken our thirst elsewhere. Continue reading

Drinking Down Masculinity – An Unexpected Pub-crawl: Part One

8 Apr
Source: Author

Source: Author

The Sports Bars 

What happens when you unintentionally bring a whole load of sociological theory about men and masculinities with you on an impromptu pub-crawl?  This is an account of such a scenario.  Having recently begun the journey across the bridge to academic life, much of my time has been spent reading journal articles, seminal texts and weighty volumes.  I decided some recreational downtime was deserved and arranged to catch up with two friends. Continue reading

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