Masculinity in Crisis

Lucas Cranach the ElderCommentators claim that masculinity is currently in crisis, by which they actually mean the masculinity of the young. Gender historian Ulrike Brunotte has ironically countered this claim with the maxim that “masculinity is always in crisis.” This adage can be taken to mean that late-life masculinity, too, is in crisis today, for older men cannot possibly live up to the cultural script of playing hard and staying hard. In addition, the saying can be understood as a historical intervention: the crisis in (late-life) masculinity is not confined to the present day, but reoccurs throughout history, for example in the painting Der Jungbrunnen (1564) by Lucas Cranach der Ältere.

Swinnen, Aagje, and Roel van den Oever. “‘Masculinity Is Always in Crisis’: Late-Life Masculinity in Historical Perspective.” Farewell Symposium for Dr. Ulrike Brunotte, Maastricht University, 15 Sep. 2021.