1 through extensive fieldwork and interviewing i

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1 Through extensive fieldwork and interviewing I discovered that, for boys, achieving a masculine identity entails the repeated repudiation of the specter of failed masculinity. Boys lay claim to masculine identities by lobbing homophobic epithets at one another. They also assert masculine selves by engaging in heterosexist discussions of girls’ bodies and their own sexual experiences. Both of these phenomena intersect with racialized identities in that they are organized somewhat differently by and for African American boys and white boys. From what I saw during my research, African American boys were more likely to be punished by school authorities for engaging in these masculinizing practices. Though homophobic taunts and assertion of heterosexuality shore up a masculine identity for boys, the relationship between sexuality and masculinity looks different when masculinity occurs outside male bodies. For girls, challenging heterosexual identities often solidifies a more masculine identity. These gendering processes are encoded at multiple levels: institutional, interactional, and individual. To explore and theorize these patterns, this book integrates queer theory, feminist theory, and sociological research on masculinities. In this chapter I address the current state of sociological research on masculinity. Then, using feminist theories and theories of sexuality, I rework some of the insights of the sociology of masculinity literature. I conclude by suggesting Pascoe, C. J.. <i>Dude, You're a Fag : Masculinity and Sexuality in High School</i>, University of California Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, . Created from emory on 2019-09-06 08:01:24. Copyright © 2011. University of California Press. All rights reserved.
that close attention to sexuality highlights masculinity as a process rather than a social identity associated with specific bodies. WHAT DO WE MEAN BY MASCULINITY? Sociologists have approached masculinity as a multiplicity of gender practices (regardless of their content) enacted by men whose bodies are assumed to be biologically male. Early in the twentieth century, when fears of feminization pervaded just about every sphere of social life, psychologists became increasingly concerned with differentiating men from women (Kimmel 1996). As a result, part of the definition of a psychologically “normal” adult came to involve proper adjustment to one’s “gender role” (Pleck 1987). Talcott Parsons (1954), the first sociologist to really address masculinity as such, argued that men’s “instrumental” role and women’s “expressive” role were central to the functioning of a well-ordered society. Deviations from women’s role as maternal caretakers or men’s role as breadwinners would result in “role strain” and “role competition,” weakening families and ultimately society.

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