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Which decade (1960s to date) in your view has seen the greatest changes in the sexual representation of women and men in literature?

Feminist theory has contributed significantly to the sexual representation of females, the focus of feminist arguments have centred on the analysis of power relations between males and females. Although feminist theory has contributed significantly to the understanding of patriarchal oppression, it has not been until the more recent years that I feel that there has been a more significant change in the sexual representation of males and females in literature. The reason for this is that in the past, feminist theories have done a lot to explain how living in a patriarchal society can affect issues of work, health, domestic violence, family etc. However, literature has failed to take account of the male point of view; literature has failed to explain male behaviour in each of the spheres of life mentioned previously.  However, more recently there has been a wealth of knowledge created by academics and researchers in regards to the male standpoint or differing notions of masculinity. This has enabled a more rounded and even representation of males and females in literature.

Therefore, in this piece of work I am arguing that literature since the 1990's till the present day has made a real advancement of knowledge in understanding the same spheres of life from both a feminised but more so a masculinised perspective. A holistic understanding of males and females did not begin till the 1990's. Moreover, I feel it is important to look at the sexual representation of males and females up until the present day, as the wealth of knowledge that has been built up in this area has depended upon the foundations laid in the 1990's. This essay will go on to justify the reasoning behind why the 1990's till the present day has made the greatest changes in the sexual representation of males and females in literature. Firstly I will begin by discussing the absence of a male standpoint in literature. I will then go on to illustrate this point by addressing the literature which has emerged on sexuality as a direct result of a more comprehensive understanding of the sexual representation of males and females in our society today.  Both of these topics will illustrate the point that without an understanding of the notions of masculinities and femininities we would not have been able to build a more comprehensive understanding of males and females in our post modern society.

Although I have focused on sexuality and masculinity, the debate of masculinity has dominated literature since the 1990's. The traditional notions of masculinities are being questioned, theories of masculinity have been applied to explain the differences in academic attainment levels between boys and girls, to explain domestic violence (Anderson, 2001), men's non traditional career choices (Simpson, 2004), man to man violence (Whitehead, 2005), and health (Courtenay, 2000).

In conclusion, 1990's to date has seen the greatest changes in the sexual representation of men and women in literature. The main reason for this is the development of a framework to place male behaviours and interactions within a context of socialisation. The focus of the sexual representation of women in literature has been evident in literature since the rise of feminism; however since the 1990's the emergence of literature has allowed us to understand the sexual representation of man and women in a holistic manner. In doing so we are able to apply theories of masculinity and femininity to attempt to explain new gendered phenomenon.

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