The Cold War, which began after World War II and lasted through the 1980s, was a geopolitical rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union grounded in an ideological rivalry between capitalism and communism. The Cold War raised concerns about both external and internal threats to American strength, social stability, and security, and particularly to material abundance, middle-class lifestyles, and cultural norms about masculinity. Motivated by fears of emasculation, effeminization, and homosexuality, Americans anxiously defined their nation and their way of life in terms culturally associated with masculinity, including power, diplomatic and military assertiveness, economic success, sexual and physical prowess, moral righteousness, and patriotism.

Postwar Anxieties

A major basis of Cold War anxiety was the fear that the defining features of American life weakened both American ...

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