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Benevolent Fathers and Virile Brothers: Metaphors of Kinship and the Construction of Masculinity and Age in the Nineteenth-Century Belgian Army

Author:

Josephine Hoegaerts

BE
About Josephine

Josephine Hoegaerts (1983) is a fwo post-doctoral researcher at K.U.Leuven. Currently she is conducting research into the evolution of vocal (pedagogic) practices in Western Europe in the long nineteenth century, and gender and age-related discourses of vocal differentiation. Recent publications include ‘“L’homme du monde est obligé de se battre”. Duel-vertogen en -praktijken in en rond het Belgische parlement, 1830-1900’, Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis 124:2 (2011) 190-205; ‘Manoeuvring Men: Masculinity as Spatially defined Readability’, Gender, Place and Culture 17:2 (2010) 249-268, and ‘Domestic Heroes: Saint Nicholas and the Catholic Family Father in the Nineteenth Century’, Journal of Men, Masculinities and Spirituality 3:1 (2009) 41-63.

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Abstract

This article traces the evolution of different discourses of masculinity in the nineteenth century Belgian army. It highlights specifically the way in which officers and men used concepts such as fatherliness, brotherhood, youthfulness, filial duty and other kinship metaphors to express their gendered identities and their mutual relationships within an all-male community. Despite their continued reliance on these metaphors, the ways in which the language of age and kinship was deployed in the army changed throughout the century, and most notably around 1880.

 

As the army became 'modern', its soldiers became brothers-in-arms rather than obedient sons and its officers became virile family men rather than wise paternal greybeards. Approaching the twentieth century, when comradeship between young men would play a key-role in the self-representation of the army, youth gained importance in military structures and the muscular and sexual vigour of the young male body became central to definitions of masculinity.

 

This article is part of the special issue 'Low Countries Histories of Masculinity'.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.18352/bmgn-lchr.1563
How to Cite: Hoegaerts, J., 2012. Benevolent Fathers and Virile Brothers: Metaphors of Kinship and the Construction of Masculinity and Age in the Nineteenth-Century Belgian Army. BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review, 127(1), pp.72–100. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/bmgn-lchr.1563
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Published on 19 Mar 2012.
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