Volume 19, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1569-2159
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9862
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This article examines the discourses of masculinity to pervade debates on the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. The article outlines an association between excessive forms of masculinity and popular cultural discourses around conflict and war, constructing and reproducing a popular lexicon on the British experience of World War II in ways that are widely interpreted as symptomatic of a coarsening of political discussion. However, the article also emphasises the performative quality of these masculine discourses in line with the personalisation of politics, and stresses the scope for contestation and ridicule. The article thereby identifies the articulation of a performative masculinity with a nation-based politics of the right. While disputable and occasionally subject to derision, this produces a gendered component in any antagonistic turn in contemporary political culture.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. BBC
    BBC 2019 Amber Rudd accuses Number 10 of language that ‘incites violence’, BBC News, 27September, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-49854569
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Bellamy, Christopher
    1995 Portillo rant triggers a storm in the forces, The Independent, 12October, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/portillo-rant-triggers-a-storm-in-the-forces-1577144.html
  3. Bennett, Catherine
    2018 Brexit is lost in toxic masculinity: no wonder women are turning against it, The Guardian, September9, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/09/bosis-johnson-brexit-toxic-masculinity
    [Google Scholar]
  4. The Express
    The Express 2019 Brexiteers ‘fuel death threats’ to own MPs, The Express, 23April.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. The Guardian
    The Guardian 2019 Donald Trump: send in Nigel Farage to negotiate with the EU, The Guardian, 2June.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Harris, Robin
    2019 The Conservatives may not survive the most lethal existential crisis in their history, The Daily Telegraph, 27April.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Hyde, Marina
    2018 Keep calm, the top guns of Brexit have got our backs, July8, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/08/top-guns-brexit-eu-machismo-tories
    [Google Scholar]
  8. 2019 The macho drama queens of Brexit are about to be knocked out by reality, April2, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/02/macho-drama-queens-brexit-steve-baker-mark-francois?CMP=fb_gu
    [Google Scholar]
  9. King, Mervyn
    2018 May’s Brexit deal is a betrayal of Britain, Bloomberg, 4December.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Malone, Carole
    2019 It is no wonder we can’t crack Brexit, The Express, 2February.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. McKinstry, Leo
    2018 Boris is right: the Chequers Brexit proposal is absurd, The Express, 10September.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Millar, James
    2018 The Brexiteers represent the four faces of toxic masculinity, New Statesman, 5Julyhttps://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2018/07/brexiteers-represent-four-faces-toxic-masculinity
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Owen, Glen
    2019 As Williamson invokes Dunkirk: I will order the Navy to replace channel ferries, Mail on Sunday, 3February.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Perkins, Anne
    2018 A Dad’s Army style Brexit looms. Don’t panic!, The Guardian, 8October.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Withers, Iain
    2018 Treasury urges banks to assess risks of no-deal Brexit, The Daily Telegraph, 15October.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Aldgate, Anthony and Jeffrey Richards
    2007Britain Can Take It: British Cinema in the Second World War (2nd edition). London: IB Taurus. 10.5040/9780755604098
    https://doi.org/10.5040/9780755604098 [Google Scholar]
  17. Atkinson, Max
    1984Our Masters’ Voices: The Language and Body Language of Politics. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Barthes, Roland
    1972Mythologies. New York: Hill and Wang.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Boers, Frank, and Muriel Demecheleer
    1997 “A few metaphorical models in (western) economic discourse.” InDiscourse and Perspectives in Cognitive Linguistics, ed. byWolf-Andreas Liebert, Gisela Redeker and Linda R. Waugh, 115–130. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/cilt.151.10boe
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cilt.151.10boe [Google Scholar]
  20. Chilton, Paul
    1987 “Metaphor, euphemism and the militarization of language.” Current Research on Peace and Violence10 (1): 7–19.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Connell, R. W.
    2002 “Studying men and masculinity.” Resources for Feminist Research29 (1/2): 43–55.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. 2005Masculinities (2nd edition). Cambridge: Polity.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Clayman, Steven, and John Heritage
    2002The News Interview: Journalists and Public Figures on Air. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511613623
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511613623 [Google Scholar]
  24. Davies, Jude
    2007 “Stupid white men: towards a political mapping of stupidity.” REAL: Yearbook of Research in English23: 189–209.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. De Blasio, Emeliana, Matthew Hibberd, Michael Higgins, and Michele Sorice
    2012La Leadership Politica: Media a Costruzione del Consenso. Rome: Carocci.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Evans, Geoffrey, and Jon Mellon
    2015 “The political popularity contest.” Significance12 (2): 8–10. 10.1111/j.1740‑9713.2015.00809.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1740-9713.2015.00809.x [Google Scholar]
  27. Fahey, Anna Cornelia
    2007 “French and feminine: Hegemonic masculinity and emasculation of John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential Race.” Critical Studies in Media Communication24 (2): 132–150. 10.1080/07393180701262743
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07393180701262743 [Google Scholar]
  28. Fowler, Roger
    1991Language in the News: Discourse and Ideology in the Press. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Genova, Dafina
    2018 “Grasping political cartoons? Not an easy matter.” European Journal of Humour Research6 (1): 85–99. 10.7592/EJHR2018.6.1.genova
    https://doi.org/10.7592/EJHR2018.6.1.genova [Google Scholar]
  30. Goffman, Erving
    1972The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. 1981Forms of Talk. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Hansard [Google Scholar]
  33. Higgins, Michael
    2013 “Governmentality, populism and empowerment.” InThe Media, Political Engagement and Empowerment, ed. byRichard Scullion, Roman Gerodimos, Darren G. Lilleker and Daniel Jackson, 74–86. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Hooper, Charlotte
    2001Manly States: Masculinities, International Relations, and Gender Politics. New York: Columbia University Press. 10.7312/hoop12074
    https://doi.org/10.7312/hoop12074 [Google Scholar]
  35. Hoxha, Tim
    2011 “The masculinity of James Bond: sexism, misogyny, racism and the female character.” InJames Bond in World and Popular Culture (2nd edition), ed. byRobert G. Weiner, B. Lynn Whitfield and Jack Becker, 193–207. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Katz, Jackson
    2016Man Enough? Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and the Politics of Presidential Masculinity. New York: Olive Branch.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Kelsey, Darren
    2017Media and Affective Mythologies. London: Routledge. 10.1007/978‑3‑319‑60759‑7
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-60759-7 [Google Scholar]
  38. Kowaleski-Wallace, Beth
    1994 “Tea, gender, and domesticity in eighteenth-century England.” Studies in Eighteenth Century Culture23: 131–145. 10.1353/sec.2010.0065
    https://doi.org/10.1353/sec.2010.0065 [Google Scholar]
  39. Langer, Ana Ines
    2011The Personalisation of Politics in the UK: Mediated Leadership From Atlee to Cameron. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. MacKenzie, S. P.
    2007The Battle of Britain on Screen: ‘The Few’ in British Film and Television Drama. London: Bloomsbury. 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748623891.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748623891.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  41. McDougall, Julian
    2017 “‘Jolly fucker’: the face of Farage.” InPopular Culture and the Austerity Myth: Hard Times Today, ed. byPete Bennett and Julian McDougall, 59–65. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Messerschmidt, Maike
    2018 “Ingrained practices: sexual violence, hypermasculinity, and re-mobilisation for violent conflict.” Global Society32 (4): 477–495. 10.1080/13600826.2018.1513397
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13600826.2018.1513397 [Google Scholar]
  43. Moffitt, Benjamin
    2016The Global Rise of Populism: Performance, Political Style and Representation. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Montgomery, Martin
    2007The Discourse of Broadcast News: a Linguistic Approach. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Mouffe, Chantal
    2005On the Political. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Overy, Richard
    2004The Battle of Britain: Myth and Reality. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Philo, Greg, and Gregory McLaughlin
    1995 “The British media and the Gulf War.” InGlasgow Media Group Reader: Industry, Economy, War and Politics, ed. byGreg Philo, 146–156. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Smith, Angela
    2016 “Mediated political masculinities: the commander-in-chief vs the new man.” Social Semiotics26 (1): 94–110. 10.1080/10350330.2015.1075293
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10350330.2015.1075293 [Google Scholar]
  49. Smith, Malcolm
    2000Britain and 1940: History, Myth and Popular Memory. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  50. Storey, John
    2010 “Becoming British.” InThe Cambridge Companion to British Culture, ed. byMichael Higgins, John Storey and Clarissa Smith, 12–25. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CCOL9780521864978.002
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL9780521864978.002 [Google Scholar]
  51. Street, John
    2004 “Celebrity politicians: popular culture and political representation.” British Journal of Politics and International Relations6 (4): 435–452. 10.1111/j.1467‑856X.2004.00149.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-856X.2004.00149.x [Google Scholar]
  52. Thurnell-Read, Thomas
    2016 “Beer and belonging: Real Ale consumption, beer and identity.” InDrinking Dilemmas: Space, Culture and Identity, ed. byThomas Thurnell-Read, 45–61. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  53. Tiresias
    Tiresias 1984Notes from Overground. London: Paladin.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Tolson, Andrew
    1991 “Televised chat and the synthetic personality.” InBroadcast Talk, ed. byPaddy Scannell, 178–200. London: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Wodak, Ruth
    2009The Discourse of Politics in Action: Politics as Usual. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
    [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): European Union; masculinity; political communications; political rhetoric; populism
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error