Depictions of the ideal masculine male are contrived with social stereotypes that include the ability to exhibit leadership, violence, and the attitude to succeed regardless of success or failure. These masculine traits create both similar and contradicting relationships between the cultural myths of individual opportunity and ideal masculinity. The intersection of these cultural myths is evident in Studs Terkel’s interview of C.P. Ellis’s arduous life transition from an unconfident and violent man who typifies fictitious masculinity to a self-assured and self-governed male who defies conventional cultural and political hegemony. Furthermore, these myths are constructed and enforced by the wealthy and idolized by the unfortunate. Without the myth of individual opportunity, the poor and self-doubting would cease to conceptualize the myth of masculinity.
Individual opportunity is a myth because there are many people who work hard and seek betterment, but nevertheless remain stagnant within their financial status in society. Ellis states, “I can understand when a guy looks at his paycheck and looks at his bills, and he’s worked hard all the week, and his bills are larger than his paycheck” (520). This quote exemplifies what is false about the myth of individual opportunity. Supposedly, the myth of individual opportunity gives everyone the right to succeed regardless of who they are or where they came from. If the myth of individual opportunity were true, Ellis’s father would slowly become richer and more successful over time as he continued to work harder. One could argue that his father wasn’t working hard enough to warrant higher income. However, when Ellis became a husband and father, he too would experience the hardship of long hours for low pay.
The myth of ideal masculinity requires the myth of individual opportunity through the perception of archetype fatherhood. The societal... [continues]
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