Publication details

From Toxic to Politically Correct : Masculinities in American Psycho and Darkly Dreaming Dexter



Year of publication 2019
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Humanities and Social Sciences Review
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Keywords CSMM; Hegemonic Masculinity; Counterhegemonic; Violence; Control; Crime Literature
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Description American Psycho (1991) and Darkly Dreaming Dexter (2004) are two American novels known for having serial killers for protagonists. The gender performances of these two self-proclaimed psychopaths, however, could not be more different; one brings traditional portrayals of violent masculinity to extremes, while the other invents a new take on fictional masculinity. With his desire to punish women, desperation to one-up other men, and frequent attacks of gay panic, American Psycho’s protagonist Patrick Bateman presents the worst extreme of hegemonic masculinity (as discussed by Connell, O’Neil and others). Driven by his fragile nerves and an even more fragile ego, Patrick often loses control and kills innocent people, his violence all the more heinous and sexualized if the target is a woman. The protagonist of the Dexter series, on the other hand, is an asexual man who has no interest in sexualized violence. Self-possessed, cool-headed, and rational, he knows how to control his bloodlust and channel it productively by hunting other murderers. In pretending to be unremarkable, he positions himself as a submissive man, yet his ego is never threatened by women or other men. Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter Morgan is proof that you can successfully write about a monstrous serial killer in a genre based on hypermasculine tropes without having your protagonist perpetuate the ideals of hegemonic masculinity.
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