Study Guide

Brokeback Mountain Men and Masculinity

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Men and Masculinity

You would do Brokeback Mountain an injustice if you boiled it down to a "gay cowboy" movie. That's like calling the Kentucky Derby just a "horse race" or Justin Bieber "annoying."

All of these are much more complicated than one or two words can describe, and Brokeback Mountain explores nuances of sexuality beyond homosexual, heterosexual, and even bisexual. It also looks at how society's ideals of masculinity affect men in all their relationships. Basically, the strong, silent type is only silent because he's a hot mess inside and has no idea how to express it. We'll add "sad" to that list: strong, silent, and sad.

Questions About Men and Masculinity

  1. Why are Jack and Ennis attracted to one another?
  2. What traditionally "masculine" and "feminine" traits does each man possess? How do these roles shift over time?
  3. How do others react to the men's relationship?
  4. What is Ennis afraid of? Is he afraid of his own sexuality, or the consequences of it?

Chew on This

Emotions are typically feminine traits. Ennis's need to be typically masculine causes him to shut away his emotions, which hurts his relationship with his wife, with Jack, and with his daughter.

Ennis might be more Jackosexual than homosexual. Sexuality exists on a spectrum, and although Ennis is mostly attracted to women, it's Jack he is attracted to the most. But other men don't float his boat.

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