Masculinity in "Fight Club"

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Others often use masculinity, most often associated with strength, confidence and self-sufficiency to define a man’s identity. The narrator perceives Tyler Durden as a fearless young man who is independent and living life by his own rules. So is Tyler Durden masculine because of his no nonsense attitude or are his law breaking antics and unusual lifestyle seen as a failure because he is a man with neither family, money nor a well respected job? These typical aspirations are commonly defined as the male American dream, but does following life by the rulebook placed on males by society really make a male masculine? Fight Club specifically debunks the male American dream. It challenges’ the idea that the masculine identity is defined by material items and instead embraces the idea that masculine identity can be found in liberation from conformity and the ability to endure pain.

The male American dream is most often interpreted as moving your family up in society by increasing your wealth. With this comes the need to purchase items that are on par with one’s income level and therefore showing off wealth and status. This need for items is not particularly because of usefulness or practicality but to distinguish oneself in society as a part of a particular class level, coming from the pressure to keep up with one’s peers. This film shows that society has taken over the definition of our needs and men no longer think for themselves but rather turn to see what others have and from that interpret what society sees as acceptable and standard. The male American dream can be interpreted as a never-ending cycle to prove oneself to others and appear to the standards that others define. According to Tyler Durden, “Advertising has us chasi...

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...from all material items and does not use society’s standards as the rules to his identity. According to Fight Club, Tyler has found his masculine identity and the members of Fight Club are able to do this as well by enduring the pain of Fight Club and not conforming to society’s standards. When one is not tied down to material items and possessions to define them, they see their true identity. This masculinity defined by Fight Club is the theory that freedom comes from having nothing; thereby men are liberated by society’s confines, most specifically the male American Dream.

Works Cited

Fight Club. Novel by Chuck Palahniuk. Screenplay by Jim Uhls. Dir. David Fincher. 1999. 20th Century Fox, 2002. DVD.

Friday, Krister. ""A Generation of Men Without History": Fight Club, Masculinity, and the Historical Symptom." Project MUSE. 2003.

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