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Nine Centuries of ManManhood and Masculinity in Scottish History$
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Lynn Abrams and Elizabeth L. Ewan

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474403894

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474403894.001.0001

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Music Hall, ‘Mashers’ and the ‘Unco Guid’: Competing Masculinities in Victorian Glasgow

Music Hall, ‘Mashers’ and the ‘Unco Guid’: Competing Masculinities in Victorian Glasgow

(p.223) 11 Music Hall, ‘Mashers’ and the ‘Unco Guid’: Competing Masculinities in Victorian Glasgow
Nine Centuries of Man

Tanya Cheadle

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter examines an intra-gender competition between three masculine identities in Victorian Glasgow. In 1875, sexually risqué performances at a music hall prompted a group of men from the ‘unco guid’, or rigidly respectable middle class, to launch a morality campaign against the halls. Their efforts were largely unsuccessful due to the formation of a cross-class alliance between young, working-class men, known as ‘mashers’, and bourgeois hedonists, who together defended their male right to sexual pleasure. The analysis of this masculine power play is suggestive in three ways: it demonstrates the existence in Presbyterian Scotland of an unrespectable masculinity; it emphasizes the importance of considering alternative forms of masculine identity in their own right, and not in relation to a hegemonic norm; and it suggests that the preservation of music-hall style into the Edwardian period was the result as much of a gendered as a class-inflected contest of social hierarchies for control.

Keywords:   music hall, hedonism, unrespectable masculinity, sexuality, morality, masculinity, Glasgow, Scotland, social hierarchies

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