A nationalist, according to Max Weber, is a culture of sentiment that expresses itself in a state and retains notions of collective descent. According to this definition, nationalism requires both an aim and a conviction. If the aim is to attain statehood (imagine a nation’s history and present), the idea is built on mutual commonality. Furthermore, the theories foster nationalist ideologies about who they are and whom they embody, which is the reason for their acts. Nationalism was inextricably linked to state institutions and politics (Foner 156). Men have controlled and continue to control most state institutions, as they have in the military. Therefore, it is evident that the ideology of hegemonic nationalism characterizes hegemonic masculinity.
The modern historical studies of the U.S. show that the contemporary pattern of the middle-class masculinity came out of the renaissance of the masculinity in the late 19th and 20th Century. As a result, the U.S., as well as the European males, had the liberty to enjoy institutionalized codes of honor, which is described as normative masculinity. Such masculinity included courage, competitiveness, stoicism, persistence, willpower, courage and sexual virility among others and as such, reflected ideals of masculinity such as liberty and equality. The adherence to these masculine traits and behavior vary in the modern American societies as it depends on the place of application (Haywood 52). Currently, cross-cultural perceptions or conceptions of masculinity are what affect the contemporary society. Notably, it is not problematic to tell if the current U.S. hegemonic masculinity is based on the 19th Century renaissance of manhood or instead is rooted in historical, cultural conceptions of, the same concepts of masculinity since the ideals are identifiable as the leading form of sexual, class and racial-based masculinity in the contemporary societies.
Nationalism and manhood played a crucial role in early 20th century up to the period towards the 1950s. The manifestation of the two concepts included the rejection of ancient regimes and the transfer of sovereignty to the people. Nationalism and manhood aided in the liberation of the nation from internal and external oppression. Nationalism demanded the loyalty of the citizens for the welfare of the state. Nevertheless, as nationalism evolved in the 19th Century, it characterized ugly forms of racism, imperialism, and totalitarianism, which stimulated world wars in the 20th century. Nationalism and manhood still play an essential role in the contemporary American society through the conflict and relations between local and central governments. The concept of manhood is still key to the activities of the modern society.
There are different ways in which nationalism race, sexuality, class, ability, and gender define nationalism. Individuals predominantly understand gender notions as masculinity and femininity. The concepts are not innate to female as well as male sex but are rather based on social construction (Foner 160). Gender representations and roles are dynamic. The concept also characterized in flux definitions hence the need to have an adequate understanding of nationalism defined it. Cultural norms and values changed based on the existing political, cultural and economic pressures from different sources. Therefore, idealized masculinity tends to hold hegemonic power over other genders. Nationalism sprung from masculinized hope, memory and humiliation. The society treated women as second-class citizens as well as relegated to symbolic and minor roles in the nationhood movements. As such, the real actors in the fight for nationalism were men. They fought to defend their women, freedom, honor and their homeland.
Furthermore, race, sexuality, gender, and class are crucial to understanding past and present American identity. Individuals have identities that define how the society perceives them and their role in the society. In the past, the language of manhood was a unifying factor since many Americans share the idea. People viewed the society in gendered terms (Pagán 227). While politics was the work of the male, females role was in the world of family and home. Such gender spheres survived the 20th century and they, still exist in the contemporary society. In the fight for nationalism, the issue of racial and civic nationalism characterized the concerns of the fight towards sovereignty and equal rights. As such, minority groups including African-American, Mexican-American and other communities fought for recognition by the American society (Pagán 225).
Notably, the military builds men is a notion that has existed for many decades. The connection between military service and manhood has in existence in many American societies. As such, in the U.S., the notion has explicitly been described under a narration that the federal government and military institution describe as building men. Several ways in which military service determined manhood and loyalty in the fight and support of various war efforts of the U.S. and patriotic service of the military existed through the conception of military masculinity. The military played a significant role in the norms of the nation. It played a fundamental role in shaping masculine ideal through shared experience, GI training as well as the reputation men received from the services. Manhood and loyalty of men were determined by their ability to defend the country against threats, their intelligence, and courage in the service and the ability to respect the commands of their seniors (Haywood 54). Military service fostered the importance of men in every role they played in the society. Those who did not serve in the service or had returned from service were seen as heads of their families. The heads of the families were part of capitalistic systems engaged in an ideological war against the communist world.
The U.S. military incorporated men from different backgrounds, sexualities, races, classes, and temperaments. Nevertheless, imagery analysis of federal productions and advertisements showed a narrow scope of men in the military mostly comprising of straight, well-built, white middle class. Men who were of color, homosexuals, and non-working class or disabled were not allowed to be part of the service or receive economic benefits of their services after their fight for nationalism.
In conclusion, the American nationality incorporates both civic and ethnic definitions. In most of American history, political allegiance and blood define the citizenry of the nation. Such notions are traceable to the early years of the countrys liberty and slavery. Hegemonic masculinity gave men ascendancy over females and other men whose identities did not align with the ideal. The modern ideas of masculinity and national identity incorporates male roles in the society vis-à-vis those of the female. Men often take part in key political positions in the country such as presidential elections. Since the Second World War, the national belonging has changed to incorporate more of political conservatives. Nevertheless, the issues of ethnicity still run the American society based on racial stereotyping. The hegemonic notion of masculinity also affects political participation hence shaping the debate, culture, and American ideals.
Foner, Eric. Who Owns History?: Rethinking the Past in a Changing World. New York: Hill and Wang, 2003. Print.
Haywood, Chris, and Mairtin Mac an Ghaill. Men and masculinities. McGraw-Hill Education (UK), 2003.
Pagán, Eduardo Obregón. “Los Angeles geopolitics and the zoot suit riot, 1943.” Social Science History 24.1 (2000): 223-256.