Towards an Affirmative Feminist Boys Studies

in Boyhood Studies
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  • 1 Senior Lecturer in the School of Communication, University of Technology Sydney, Australia timothy.laurie@uts.edu.au
  • 2 University of Sydney, Australia catherine.driscoll@sydney.edu.au
  • 3 University of Sydney, Australia liam.grealy@sydney.edu.au
  • 4 University of Sydney, Australia shawna.tang@sydney.edu.au
  • 5 University of Sydney, Australia grace.sharkey@ sydney.edu.au
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Abstract

This critical commentary considers the significance of Connell's The Men and the Boys in the development of an affirmative feminist boys studies. In particular, the article asks: How can research on boys contribute to feminist research on childhood and youth, without either establishing a false equivalency with girls studies, or overstating the singularity of “the boy” across diverse cultural and historical contexts? Connell's four-tiered account of social relations—political, economic, emotional, and symbolic—provides an important corrective to reductionist approaches to both feminism and boyhood, and this article draws on The Men and the Boys to think through contrasting sites of identity formation around boys: online cultures of “incels” (involuntary celibates); transmasculinities and the biological diversity of the category “man”; and the social power excercised within an elite Australian boys school. The article concludes by identifying contemporary challenges emerging from the heuristic model offered in The Men and the Boys.

Contributor Notes

Timothy Laurie is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Communication at the University of Technology Sydney. His core research interests include cultural theory, gender and sexuality studies, studies in popular culture, and philosophy. Timothy has recently co-authored The Theory of Love: Ideals, Limits, Futures (forthcoming) with Hannah Stark, and co-edited Unsettled Voices: Beyond Free Speech in the Late Liberal Era (2021) with Tanja Dreher and Michael Griffiths. Email: timothy.laurie@uts.edu.au

Catherine Driscoll is Professor of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. Her research ranges across the areas of youth and girls studies, popular cultural and media studies, cultural theory, modernist studies, and rural cultural studies. Her books include Girls (2002), Modernist Cultural Studies (2010), Teen Film (2011), The Australian Country Girl (2014), and The Hunger Games: Spectacle, Risk, and the Girl Action Hero (with Heatwole 2018). Her co-edited scholarly collections include Cultural Pedagogies and Human Conduct (with Watkins and Noble 2015), and Youth, Technology, Governance and Experience (with Grealy and Hickey-Moody 2018). Email: catherine.driscoll@sydney.edu.au

Liam Grealy is a Research Fellow in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. He is employed by the Housing for Health Incubator, for which his work examines housing and infrastructure policy in regional and remote Australia and southeast Louisiana. His other research and policy work relates to youth and media, preventive detention, and higher education research. Email: liam.grealy@sydney.edu.au

Shawna Tang is a Lecturer in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney, and researches sexuality, gender, and race, with a focus on Asia and Australia. She inhabits the multiple fields of queer cultural studies, intersectional and affective transnational feminisms, transgender studies and critical race theories to rethink racialized questions of queer identity, politics, and futurisms. Email: shawna.tang@sydney.edu.au

Grace Sharkey is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. Her research interests include feminist and queer theory, youth and popular culture. Email: grace.sharkey@sydney.edu.au

Boyhood Studies

An Interdisciplinary Journal

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