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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.

Sexed Bodies and Military Masculinities

Kronsell, A. (2015). “Sexed Bodies and Military Masculinities: Gender Path Dependence in EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy.” Men and Masculinities.
This article explores the European Union (EU)’s Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) through a framework based on feminist institutional theory that highlights the durability in the dynamics of gender relations. Path dependency based on historic features of military institutions’ strict sex division based on gender war roles has influenced the development of different CSDP bodies. The CSDP is sexed because male bodies dominate the organizations studied, yet this remains invisible through normalization. A dominant EU hierarchical military masculinity is institutionalized in the EU’s Military Committee, combat heterosexual masculinity in the Battle groups, and EU protector masculinity in the EU Training missions. The CSDP embodies different types of military masculinities; the relations between them are important for the reproduction of the gender order through a gendered logic of appropriateness. Yet, this too is invisible as part of the informal aspects of organizations. While women’s bodies are written out of the CSDP, the construction of femininity in relation to the protector/protected binary is central to it. Two protected femininities are read in the texts. The vulnerable femininity of women in conflict areas is important for how the CSDP understands itself in relation to gender mainstreaming. In relation to the vulnerable femininity, CSDP constructs an EU protector masculinity, in turn, set against an aggressive violent masculinity in the areas where missions are deployed. Women’s bodies are absent from the CSDP and they lack agency but are nevertheless associated with a protected femininity.

Masculinities at the Margins of “Middle Adulthood”

Bartholomaeus, C. and A. Tarrant (2015). “Masculinities at the Margins of “Middle Adulthood”: What a Consideration of Young Age and Old Age Offers Masculinities Theorizing.” Men and Masculinities.
The intersections of masculinities and age have attracted relatively little theorizing. This article examines the theoretical implications of young/old age and masculinities by bringing together two bodies of literature (young age and masculinities and old age and masculinities) and two research studies (one with pre-teenage school students in Australia and one with grandfathers in the United Kingdom). We focus on two key themes: caring practices and relations and the divide between physical activity and intellectual pursuits. Drawing on these themes, we show how age allows for gender transgressions and practices of gender equality and how young boys and old men can also uphold a discourse of hegemonic masculinity, despite age-related tensions. We conclude by arguing that a consideration of age has much to offer in terms of thinking about how gender is socially constructed and illuminates the complex power relations of age and gender categories.

Communal Religious Practice and Support for Armed Parties: Evidence from Lebanon

Hoffman, M. T. and E. R. Nugent (2015). “Communal Religious Practice and Support for Armed Parties: Evidence from Lebanon.” Journal of Conflict Resolution.
Does religion inevitably promote support for militant politics? Using a new and unique data set compiled from a nationally representative survey in Lebanon, we examine the conditions under which communal religious practice may serve to promote support for or opposition to armed parties. We argue that this relationship, far from being unidirectional and consistent, depends on the interests of the individual sectarian group. For groups engaged in conflict, communal prayer may increase support for arming political parties. For noncombatant groups, however, religion tends to promote opposition to such militarization. Using both observational and experimental evidence, we demonstrate that communal religion increases the salience of group interests through both identity and informational mechanisms. For regular worship attenders, communal religious practice increases the salience of sectarian identity. For nonattenders, informational primes about sectarian interests have the same effect. Among noncombatant groups, this increased salience leads to opposition to armed parties whose presence would threaten the livelihoods and security of those on the sidelines.