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Professional WrestlingSport and Spectacle, Second Edition$
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Sharon Mazer

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781496826862

Published to University Press of Mississippi: September 2020

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496826862.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM Mississippi SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mississippi.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Mississippi, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSSO for personal use.date: 28 November 2020

Real Men Don’t Wear Shirts

Real Men Don’t Wear Shirts

Chapter:
(p.85) 4 Real Men Don’t Wear Shirts
Source:
Professional Wrestling
Author(s):

Sharon Mazer

Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781496826862.003.0004

Professional wrestling’s play of masculinity is profoundly carnivalesque as it affirms and mocks, celebrates and critiques prevailing definitions of what it is to be a “real” man in contemporary American culture. Because it is centered on, and always returns to, the display of male bodies, and because the action is both a simulation and a parody of violence between men, the performance is always highly ambivalent and profoundly transgressive, at once hypervisible and hypermasculine. As professional wrestlers mask their profound dependence upon and cooperation with each other in the ring, so too they perform a denial of intimacy, even as their performances are exceptionally, provocatively intimate. Despite its apparent social subversiveness, in the end, professional wrestling affirms the dominant culture; it is always a performance by men, for men, about men. Both its ethos and its aesthetics are explicitly centered on the idea of masculinity at once essential and performed.

Keywords:   Manliness, Carnivalesque, Homosociality, Heteronormativity, The male body

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