“Girls Are Like Flowers; Boys Are Like footballs”

How Fathers Hope to Configure Their Sons’ Masculinity

in Boyhood Studies
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  • 1 University of Barcelona, Spain florencia.herrera@udp.cl
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Abstract

To contribute to the discussion about how masculinity—understood as a configuration of gender practices (Connell 2000)—is reproduced, this paper analyzes fathers’ discourse about the gender of their sons and daughters. I carried out a qualitative longitudinal study in Chile during which 28 first-time fathers were interviewed before and after their child's birth or arrival (adoption). I suggest that these fathers see gender in essentialist, dichotomous, and hierarchical terms. They expect to shape their sons’ gender practices according to hegemonic masculinity (discouraging gender practices associated with femininity or homosexuality). In the study, no attempt to reformulate masculine gender practices was observed but, rather, an interest on the fathers’ part in maintaining the patriarchal gender order.

Contributor Notes

Florencia Herrera holds a PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Barcelona. She is a lecturer at the School of Sociology of the Diego Portales University, Chile. Her research interests are related to parenting, reproduction, gender, and qualitative methods. Most recently, her experience as a researcher and a mother with visual disability has drawn her to be interested in the experiences of parents with disabilities. Email: florencia.herrera@udp.cl. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5832-7984

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