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Unformatted text preview: Abstract This article argues that American adolescent boys become masculine through the continual repudiation of a fag identity. Using insights from sociologists of interaction and post-structural theorists of sexuality this article demonstrates that the fag insult has multiple meanings which are primarily gendered but also sexualized and raced. This article builds on prior analyses of adolescent homophobia by (1) pointing to the limits of an argument that focuses centrally on homophobia, (2) demonstrating that the fag is not only an identity linked to homosexual boys but an identity that can temporarily adhere to heterosexual boys as well and (3) highlighting the racialized nature of this fag discourse. Keywords adolescence, gender, homophobia, masculinity, sexuality C. J. Pascoe University of California, USA Dude, Youre a Fag: Adolescent Masculinity and the Fag Discourse Theres a faggot over there! Theres a faggot over there! Come look! yelled Brian, a senior at River High School, to a group of 10-year-old boys. Follow- ing Brian, the 10 year olds dashed down a hallway. At the end of the hallway Brians friend, Dan, pursed his lips and began sashaying towards the 10-year- olds. He minced towards them, swinging his hips exaggeratedly and wildly waving his arms. To the boys Brian yelled, Look at the faggot! Watch out! Hell get you! In response the 10-year-olds raced back down the hallway screaming in terror. (From authors fieldnotes) The relationship between adolescent masculinity and sexuality is embedded in the specter of the faggot. Faggots represent a penetrated masculinity in which to be penetrated is to abdicate power (Bersani, 1987: 212). Penetrated men symbolize a masculinity devoid of power, which, in its contradiction, threatens both psychic and social chaos. It is precisely this specter of penetrated masculinity that functions as a regu- latory mechanism of gender for contemporary American adolescent boys. Article Sexualities Copyright 2005 SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi) Vol 8(3): 329346 DOI: 10.1177/1363460705053337 www.sagepublications.com Feminist scholars of masculinity have documented the centrality of homophobic insults to masculinity (Lehne, 1998; Kimmel, 2001) especially in school settings (Wood, 1984; Smith, 1998; Burn, 2000; Plummer, 2001; Kimmel, 2003). They argue that homophobic teasing often characterizes masculinity in adolescence and early adulthood, and that anti-gay slurs tend to primarily be directed at other gay boys. This article both expands on and challenges these accounts of relation- ships between homophobia and masculinity. Homophobia is indeed a central mechanism in the making of contemporary American adolescent masculinity. This article both critiques and builds on this finding by (1) pointing to the limits of an argument that focuses centrally on homo- phobia, (2) demonstrating that the fag is not only an identity linked to homosexual boys...
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