Niels Ulrik Sørensen
On the edge: The aestheticization of the masculine and the heterosexual among young men in a late-modern city explores body, gender and identity constructions among young men in the light of individualization and aestheticization in late-modern cities. On the basis of an empirical study among young men in Copenhagen, it is argued that individualization and aestheticization in late-modern cities blur the lines between young men’s ordinary and extreme aesthetic body practices. Not because the lines lose their importance, but because they have become so crowded that they are almost impossible to identify. Being on the lines between the ordinary and the extreme has become a normative ideal, wherefore they are no longer lines between the socially and culturally included and excluded. What is socially and culturally included is what is on the lines. What is outside the lines – whether on the extreme or the normal side – is in danger of being socially and culturally excluded. On the Edge analyzes this new aesthetic body regime as an attempt to emulate a modern ideal of heterosexual masculinities by carving out a narrow and specific space for male body, gender and identity constructions in an individualized and aestheticizied late-modern context which carry considerable homosexual and feminine connotations. Thus, being on the line means being included in a masculine and heterosexual space, and being outside means risking exclusion. But, it is argued, as this space is carved out of homosexually and femininely connoted context, the masculine and the heterosexual are losing their status as being ontologically different from the homosexual and the feminine. On the contrary, they more and more seem to be narrow and specific deviations of the homosexual and the feminine. Though these deviations still are utterly important for the male body, gender and identity constructions, it is argued that they tend to destabilize the modern ideal of heterosexual masculinities which they attempt to emulate.
aestheticization, individualization, masculinities, young men ,body-practices, late‑modernity