Study Guide

Nation Men and Masculinity

By Terry Pratchett

Men and Masculinity

Imagine the video to the song "Macho Man." What do you see? Bulging biceps? A construction worker on a Soloflex? A guy in a feathered headdress on a treadmill? Okay, maybe that's not the best example, but work with us here. Now, keep the song (sorry if it gets stuck in your head for hours), but replace these images with scientists: Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin. Do they fit? Why or why not? In Nation, Mau's culture reveres warriors as the ultimate men. But, through Daphne's culture, Mau discovers that some men flex their brains more than their biceps. He realizes that you don't need to be a hunter with a spear to be a man. Being able to calculate the trajectory of one using your brain is just as manly. (Although arguable less useful if a wild boar is charging you down.)

Questions About Men and Masculinity

  1. Mau's culture involves a lot of seemingly arbitrary rituals to be considered a "man." Are rituals and rites of passage necessary to achieve manhood?
  2. Why does Mau's culture revere warriors so much? What types of cultures might revere certain types of men? 
  3. Mau's culture went from revering science to revering strength. How have ideals of masculinity changed in your culture?

Chew on This

Mau learns that masculinity can be associated with brains, but you have to have the brawn to back it up.

Masculinity is defined in relation to femininity. Without being contrasted to femininity, masculinity has no meaning.