Youth, Respect and Power

Today's modern industrialised societies are often said to have a “cult of youth”, a worship of the idea of being young. This could be linked to our consumerist culture and the constant search for new products and experiences. The “seductive power [of objects of consumption] lies mostly in their not having been experienced before [and] the young, by definition, fit the bill … as objects of consumption” (Bauman 2007: 59). This positions youth as desirable but not respected, a thing to be possessed but not admired.

Masculinity and Femininity

“Masculinity” and “femininity” are terms which encompass broad categories of behaviour deemed appropriate for and typical of those categorised as male and female respectively. These definitions are somewhat recursive as masculinity is defined as behaviour typical of males (or more specifically, men) and men are then expected to behave in masculine ways. The terms are also defined in opposition to each other, in that masculinity is whatever femininity is not, and therefore men are expected to behave in “not-feminine” ways. But neither exists as an objective standard outside of society and “vary across cultures and change over time” (Cameron 2007: 23); “Manhood does not bubble up to consciousness from our biological makeup; it is created in culture” (Kimmel 2001: 267).