ABSTRACT

Apprehension over the status of white men in post-sixties American culture – the era in which ‘high’ Fordism decays and the period that Cormac McCarthy emerges as a published novelist – refers most directly to the political effects of feminism correlating with the changing tides of capitalism. ‘Second wave’ feminism was, of course, a response to the polarised ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ registers of being, which, according to David Savran, “monopolised American culture during the domestic revival that followed World War II” (170). Such reified gender demarcations, assured within culturally restricted principles of order and hierarchy, by and large promoted the “male [domestication] and [rationalisation] of women,” so as to ensure that ‘feminine’ would remain a synonym for ‘submissive,’ in contrast to the potency of the muscular working male, utilising his body as a righteous testament to his authoritative, autonomous manhood (Savran 170). In spite of the fact that a manufacture-based capitalist methodology routinely recognised the public sphere as an exclusively established ‘male domain,’ however, the increasingly seditious sites of convergence amongst gender processes and late capitalist economic circumstances affirmed an ever closer alignment of the feminine with mainstream culture, and, in so doing, ruptured those regulating fictions that consolidated and naturalised socio-economic, phallocentric supremacies. Issues surrounding men and masculinities significantly shifted because of this contingency, and the transfiguration of the sex role paradigm in the 1970s – to apply more immediately to questions of masculinity – exposed the many 127characteristically male traits that used to comprise the gender’s strength and thus legitimise its hegemonic status, as a series of politically sanctioned and socially practised mechanisms of oppression.