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The quest for modern manhood: masculine stereotypes, peer culture and the social significance of homophobia

Plummer, David C. (2001) Journal of Adolescence 24: 15-23.

This paper explores the use of homophobic terms by boys and young men and the meanings they invoke when using them. Highly detailed interviews were conducted with young men from diverse backgrounds about their own experiences while growing up and their observations of schools, teachers, family and peers. Homophobia was found to be more than a simple prejudice against homosexuals. Homophobic terms like “poofter” and “faggot” have a rich developmental history and play a central role in adolescent male peer-group dynamics. Homophobic terms come into currency in primary school. When this happens, words like poofter and faggot rarely have sexual connotations. Nevertheless, far from being indiscriminate terms of abuse, these terms tap a complex array of meanings that are precisely mapped in peer cultures, and boys quickly learn to avoid homophobia and to use it decisively and with great impact against others. Significantly, this early, very powerful use of homophobic terms occurs prior to puberty, prior to adult sexual identity and prior to knowing much, if anything, about homosexuality. An effect of this sequence is that early homophobic experiences may well provide a key reference point for comprehending forthcoming adult sexual identity formation (gay or not) because powerful homophobic codes are learned first.

Making Sense of Masculinity and War

Hutchings, Kimberly (2008). Men and Masculinities 10(4): 389-404.

This article examines modes of theorizing about war in two contemporary literatures: on war and gender and on the changing nature of war. Both these literatures make a connection between masculinity and war. The article argues that, on examination, the link between masculinity and war does not depend on the substantive meanings of either masculinity or war, or on a causal or constitutive relation between the two; rather, masculinity is linked to war because the formal, relational properties of masculinity provide a framework through which war can be rendered both intelligible and acceptable as a social practice and institution.

Caring Masculinities: Theorizing an Emerging Concept

Elliott, K. (2015). “Caring Masculinities: Theorizing an Emerging Concept.” Men and Masculinities.
A space has emerged for theorizing caring masculinities as the concept has increasingly become a focus of European critical studies on men and masculinities (CSMM). In this article, I present a practice-based framework of the concept. I propose that caring masculinities are masculine identities that reject domination and its associated traits and embrace values of care such as positive emotion, interdependence, and relationality. I suggest that these caring masculinities constitute a critical form of men’s engagement and involvement in gender equality and offer the potential of sustained social change for men and gender relations. I draw on CSMM and feminist care theory to construct the framework proposed here. In doing so, I offer a feminist exploration of how masculinities might be reworked into identities of care rather than domination.

Hegemonic Masculinity/Masculinities in South Africa: Culture, Power, and Gender Politics

Morrell, R., et al. (2012). “Hegemonic Masculinity/Masculinities in South Africa: Culture, Power, and Gender Politics.” Men and Masculinities 15(1): 11-30.
The concept of hegemonic masculinity has had a profound impact on gender activism and has been taken up particularly in health interventions. The concept was part of a conceptual gendered vocabulary about men which opened up analytical space for research on masculinity and prompted a generation of gender interventions with men. Academic work focused primarily on relations between men, to the neglect of relations with women, while paradoxically acknowledging the power that men had over women. Interventions that drew on theories of masculinities focused on the content of hegemonic masculinity, identifying hegemony with oppressive attitudes and practices. Hegemonic masculinity was considered singular and universal, with little acknowledgment given to research-based work that argued for a model of multiple hegemonic masculinities. An unintended consequence of efforts to promote gender equity through a focus on men and hegemony has been a recent popular discursive backlash. In this, Jacob Zuma and Julius Malema, presidents of the African National Congress (ANC) and the ANC youth league respectively, have sought to valorize an African masculinity that is race-specific, backward-looking, and predicated on the notion of male superiority. In this article, the authors argue that the concept of hegemonic masculinities retains a utility in both scholarship and activism but that its use needs to be located within a broader gendered understanding of society which in turn needs to confront race and class-based national realities.

Engendering Gendered Knowledge: Assessing the Academic Appropriation of Hegemonic Masculinity

Messerschmidt, J. W. (2012). “Engendering Gendered Knowledge: Assessing the Academic Appropriation of Hegemonic Masculinity.” Men and Masculinities 15(1): 56-76.
The appropriation of concepts long established as salient contributions to gender theory and research recently has come under scholarly scrutiny. In this article, the author contributes to this dissection of crucial gender concepts by assessing the recent academic appropriation of the reformulated concept of hegemonic masculinity and how this appropriation engenders gendered knowledge. The author first briefly revisits the concept of hegemonic masculinity as reformulated by Connell and Messerschmidt. Following this, the author examines selected studies to illustrate how hegemonic masculinity has been appropriated differently, how this dissimilarity is significant for the production of gendered knowledge, and how several new directions in the appropriations extend gendered knowledge on hegemonic masculinity. Finally, the author discusses the relevance of all his conclusions to the wider debates over the concept of hegemonic masculinity and posits how these conclusions arguably impact future feminist/gender research and theory construction.

A Few Good Boys: Masculinity at a Military-Style Charter School

Johnson, B. (2010). “A Few Good Boys: Masculinity at a Military-Style Charter School.” Men and Masculinities 12(5): 575-596.
Through four years of ethnographic participant observation, and in-depth interviews, this article examines how militarism and masculinity are bound together in the social space of a military-style charter school in Southern California. Drawing on the concept of hegemonic masculinity by Connell, and the discussion by Higate and Hopton on the reciprocal relationship between militarism and masculinity, this article examines the construction of a military hegemonic masculinity at the school. It also examines the nuances and effects of this particular form of hegemonic masculinity for both boys and girls and argues it is exemplified at the school through the acceptance and condonement of violence and the warrior hero archetype. While not all cadets at the school have access to, or can capitalize upon the advantages of this particular hegemonic masculinity, specifically black boys and girls, it is a powerful force that shapes social interactions, social patterns, and social identities for boys and girls.

Peacekeepers, Masculinities, and Sexual Exploitation

Higate, P. (2007). “Peacekeepers, Masculinities, and Sexual Exploitation.” Men and Masculinities 10(1): 99-119.
My aim in this article is to analyze a set of gendered power relations played out in two postconflict settings. Based on interviews with peacekeepers and others, I argue that sexual exploitation of local women by male peacekeepers continues to be documented. I then turn to scholarly considerations of peacekeeper sexual exploitation, some of which accord excessive explanatory power to a crude form of military masculinity. This is underlined by similarly exploitative activities perpetrated by humanitarian workers and so-called sex tourists. In conclusion, I argue that a form of exploitative social masculinities shaped by socioeconomic structure, impunity, and privilege offers a more appropriate way to capture the activities of some male peacekeepers during peacekeeping missions. Finally, in underlining the conflation of military masculinities with exploitation, I pose the question of how to explain those military men who do not exploit local women while deployed on missions.

Taking Control of Sex?: Hegemonic Masculinity, Technology, and Internet Pornography

Garlick, S. (2010). “Taking Control of Sex?: Hegemonic Masculinity, Technology, and Internet Pornography.” Men and Masculinities 12(5): 597-614.
It is widely acknowledged that gender is a key category in pornography, yet the relation of the latter to contemporary masculinities remains relatively obscure. Although there is a substantial critical literature on the positioning and treatment of women in pornography, the connection between the consumption of pornographic images and the social construction of hegemonic masculinity has been more often presumed than examined. This lacuna becomes more apparent when juxtaposed with the profusion and proliferation of Internet porn in recent years. Rather than enter into existing antiporn or proporn debates, this article seeks to pose a different set of questions about the relationship between masculinity, technology, and pornography. It suggests that the Internet produces a qualitative change in the way in which viewers are affected by pornography and that this has implications for contemporary gender relations. Beyond men’s control over women’s bodies, Internet porn participates in the larger drama of a technological confrontation between men and nature one in which control and the meaning of masculinity is perpetually at stake.

Hegemonic Masculinity and the Possibility of Change in Gender Relations

Duncanson, C. (2015). “Hegemonic Masculinity and the Possibility of Change in Gender Relations.” Men and Masculinities 18(2): 231-248.
Hegemonic masculinity was introduced as a concept which, due to its understanding of gender as dynamic and relational, and of power as consent, could explain both the persistence of male power and the potential for social change. Yet, when hegemonic masculinity is applied in empirical cases, it is most often used to demonstrate the way in which hegemonic masculinity shifts and adopts new practices in order to enable some men to retain power over others. This is especially so in feminist International Relations, particularly studies of military masculinities, where shifts toward “softer” military masculinities such as the “tough and tender” soldier-scholar demonstrate to many feminists merely the “flexibility of the machinery of rule”. In this article, I challenge the pessimism of these accounts of military masculinity. My particular contribution is to build on an emergent and underdeveloped strand of Connell’s work on hegemonic masculinity: how change might be theorized. I argue that hegemonic masculinity remains a useful concept, but that the process through which hegemony may fail requires rethinking. I make this argument by exploring and working through empirical material on military masculinities, drawing on both my own research and critical analysis of the literature.

I’m Not Homophobic, I’ve Got Gay Friends

de Boise, S. (2015). “I’m Not Homophobic, I’ve Got Gay Friends: Evaluating the Validity of Inclusive Masculinity.” Men and Masculinities 18(3): 318-339.
Anderson’s concept of “inclusive masculinity” has generated significant academic and media interest recently. It claims to have replaced hegemonic masculinity as a theoretical framework for exploring gender relations in societies that show decreased levels of cultural homophobia and homohysteria; this clearly has important implications for critical studies on men and masculinities (CSMMs). This article is divided into two parts and begins with a theoretical evaluation of work using the framework of inclusive masculinity and what it claims to offer over hegemonic masculinity. The second half is an analysis of inclusive masculinity’s conceptual division of homophobia and homohysteria. Through this analysis, it is suggested that there are several major theoretical concerns, which call into question the validity of research utilizing the framework of inclusive masculinity.