Becoming a Super-Masculine “Cool Guy”

Reflexivity, Dominant and Hegemonic Masculinities, and Sexual Violence

in Boyhood Studies
James W. Messerschmidt Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Southern Maine, USA

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In this article the author builds on the arguments articulated by Raewyn Connell in her seminal work The Men and the Boys (2000) by summarizing and analyzing a case study of an adolescent boy who was identified at school as a “wimp” and who eventually engaged in sexual violence. Such subordinated boys rarely are—if at all—discussed in childhood education, sociology, and feminist literatures on violence. The synopsis reveals the interrelationship among in-school bullying, reflexivity, embodiment, and the social construction of dominant and hegemonic masculinities through the commission of adolescent sexual violence. The analysis demonstrates the continued relevance of Connell's work, and the author builds on and expands on Connell's formulation through, in particular, an examination of reflexivity, dominant masculinities, different types of hegemonic masculinities, and intersectionality.

Contributor Notes

James W. Messerschmidt is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Southern Maine in the United States. In addition to over 80 research articles and book chapters, he has authored 14 books, most recently Hegemonic Masculinity: Formulation, Reformulation, and Amplification and Gender Reckonings: New Social Theory and Research co-edited with Patricia Yancey Martin, Michael Messner, and Raewyn Connell. His research interests focus on: cognitive sociology; inequalities and intersectionality; gender, masculinities, and sexualities; youth crime and violence; and political sociology. Email:

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Boyhood Studies

An Interdisciplinary Journal

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  • Flood, Michael. 2002. “Between Men and Masculinity: An Assessment of the Term ‘Masculinity’ in Recent Scholarship on Men.” In Manning the Next Millennium: Studies in Masculinities, ed. S. Pearce and V. Muller, 203213. Chicago: Black Swan Press.

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  • Messerschmidt, James W. 2004. Flesh & Blood: Adolescent Gender Diversity and Violence. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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  • Messerschmidt, James W. 2014. Crime as Structured Action. 2 nd Edition. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

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