Pope and Chrisler

Gracie Hall

Pope notes in chapter two that the rise of the adonis complex can be derived from two different sources. The first is the rise of steroids, which really began to take off in the 1980’s. ‘Roided men began to appear in Hollywood films and infiltrate the media. Now, Pope notes, almost every magazine cover boasts images of men’s bodies that would be impossible without steroid use. This fact, however, is widely unknown and the question “do you think _____ uses steroids?” is often thrown around even when the answer (according to Pope) is fairly obvious.

I thought that Pope’s second avenue aiding the rise of the adonis complex was more interesting in reference to Chrisler’s article. Pope notes that the women’s liberation movement and the subsequent gains could be explanation for the adonis complex. As women have threatened men’s power and masculinity through economic, social, and cultural gains–men have in turn become more and more muscular. Pope notes that this is because muscles signal masculinity, and bodybuilding “the surest way to achieve muscularity” symbolically represents the male body as “power and strength” and “represents men’s attempts to reclaim feelings of masculinity” (53). Furthermore, no matter the effort women put in, they will never be able to match mens muscularity (50). Pope notes that since the early 1900’s threats to masculinity and concern with male body image has gone hand in hand; when threats become larger and more apparent (as they did between the 1960’s and 1990’s) the adonis complex becomes more entrenched and widespread.

Chrisler notes a similar phenomenon as PMS has changed from a “relative obscurity to cultural icon in a mere 30 years” (155). For this reason, along with a lack of evidence, Chrisler defines PMS as a “culture bound syndrome” because it occurs in some societies but not others. In industrialized nations, “PMS summarizes and symbolizes core meanings and behavioral norms of the culture” (161). Women are categorized as “emotionally unstable, and inherently unhealthy” and therefore their legitimacy is questioned and seemingly their roles in public life should be limited. PMS has been inflated to a cultural icon for the benefit of men as women grow more and more equal.

Chrisler notes on 165 that “the existence of PMS encourages women to think of themselves as unstable and potentially ill for at least half of each month”. Furthermore, it also encourages men to think of women this way as well. Therefore PMS works to limit women, because if they are “preoccupied with rhythmic changes in their bodies and emotions” they won’t be able to be fully concerned with winning political power or changing social institutions. PMS undermines the feminist message that the personal is political, and instead boasts that women’s problems are internal and individual.

The explanation that womens push towards equality is why the adonis complex and PMS have become so entrenched and widespread is also relevant to other changes we have seen. For example, as women have gained economic power in the labor force we have seen a resurgence of the importance of mothering and the rise of mother worry. As women have gained more acceptance to be sexually explorative and free we have seen the creation of grinding and the hook-up culture, both of which reinforce traditional power dynamics. I think that Chrisler’s “culture bound syndrome” is a concept to consider when thinking about changes concerning gender and sexuality, and furthermore her suggestion to ask, “who does this benefit?” is an important take away that is applicable to all that we have studied.



One thought on “Pope and Chrisler

  1. Gracie,

    I agree that it is important for us to look at the effect that the two issues have on our lives and who they really benefit? I think these articles make it very clear that these are things that we all participate in but very rarely question. In an ideal world we wouldn’t be worried about the way our bodies look and women would have the freedom to express their emotions without being labeled as mentally ill, but our society has evolved in a way that doesn’t benefit anyone. With the rise of the media and we have seen an increase in unhealthy behaviors associated with one’s body and PMS has become a widely known topic. That said, why do we enjoy the media so much? We obsessively compare ourselves to the stick thin or “‘roided” models and movie stars on the cover of every magazine and movie even though it makes us feel terrible about ourselves.

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