Defying the System: Counterhegemonic Masculinities in Sense8



Year of publication 2018
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description In response to decades of feminist criticism, femininities in fiction have gone through many changes. The portrayals of masculinity, however, have been changing rather slowly, partly because the ideals of hegemonic masculinity that have come under criticism (by Connell and many others) are what makes a traditional hero: a man who stands above women and lesser men, mentally and physically invulnerable, and a master of his and other people’s fates. Creating a counterhegemonic male protagonist is therefore no easy task, especially when the narrative calls for an action hero, or a man to fit the tone of a hypermasculine genre such as sci-fi, or on the other hand, a man to appeal to the female audience in a romantic role. The creators of the TV show Sense8 (2015-2018) achieve this balancing act, even though their story falls under all three of these genres. Out of their eight protagonists, three are heterosexual males who at first sight fit the mold of traditional leading men without resorting to unhealthy hegemonic attitudes towards women, other men, or to themselves. Instead of feeling threatened or uncomfortable, these characters actively support feminist women, gay men, and transgender people. They have their share of action scenes, but even more often, they use the premise of being telepathically connected to eight people to build and maintain healthy relationships. My presentation will analyze not only the way Sense8 changes the traditional male hero, but also the way this new hero changes the story that is being told.
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