I am most excited to be announcing the first issue of Boyhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. The journal continues Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies, seven volumes of which were published between 2007 and 2013 by The Men’s Studies Press. Boyhood Studies will complement Berghahn’s prize-winning title Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, published as of 2008.
Diederik F. Janssen
Anna Tarrant, Gareth Terry, Michael R.M. Ward, Sandy Ruxton, Martin Robb, and Brigid Featherstone
This article considers the so-called war on boys through a critical examination of the way boys and young men have been represented in what might be termed the male role model discourse in policy and media debates in the UK. Critical engagement with academic literatures that explore the male role model response to what has become known as the problem of boys, predominantly in education and in welfare settings, reveals that contemporary policy solutions continue to be premised on outdated theoretical foundations that reflect simplistic understandings of gender and gender relations. In this article we advocate policy solutions that acknowledge the complexity and diversity of boys’ and young men’s experiences and that do not simplistically reduce their problems to the notion of a crisis in masculinity.
On Roles, Goals, and Imagos in Boyhood—An Evolving Psychoanalytic Vision
Clifton Edward Watkins
The psychoanalytic vision of the father-son relationship, for far too long, remained yoked to patrifocal, patriarchal, phallocentric, and heteronormative biases. Fathers were seen as the paragons of masculinity, providing their sons with rescue and salvation from the sinister specter of enmeshment with and engulfment by mother. Only in the last approximate 25 to 30 years have we seen a significant shift in that vision of fathers begin to occur in psychoanalysis. In this paper, I consider some of the essentials that appear to now define that ever-evolving psychoanalytic vision of fathers. Some ways in which fathers seemingly contribute to boys’ development will be examined, and the roles, goals, and imagos that characterize the father-son relationship during boyhood will be accentuated. This current vision, still very much a work in progress, reflects earnest efforts to contemporize an antiquated and gender biased psychoanalytic perspective and render it relevant for the twenty-first century father, fathering, and father-son relationship. Upending psychoanalytic overemphases on pathology, misery, and negativity, it is an optimistic iconoclasm that challenges and questions tradition, proposes an alternative path to explanatory possibilities and conceptualizations, and above all else, embraces and celebrates “more life,” joy, happiness, health, and positivity in fathering.
Hegemonic Boyhood Masculinity as Depicted in Boy’s Life Magazine, 1911–2012
Susan M. Alexander and Kelsey Collins
Hegemonic masculinity is a fluid concept that varies according to historical period and social and cultural location. While much has been written about hegemonic masculinity as experienced by adult men, research is lacking on hegemonic masculinity in boyhood from an historical perspective. Using a quantitative content analysis of images on the covers of Boy’s Life magazine, this study finds three distinct historically specific images of hegemonic American boyhood masculinity: boys who serve their country as patriotic scouts in uniform; boys who admire celebrities, particularly professional athletes; and a branded boyhood in which boys wear brand name products while engaging in sports activities.
Michael C. Reichert
Judy Y. Chu. 2014. When Boys Become Boys: Development, Relationships, and Masculinity. New York: New York University Press. 227 pp. ISBN: 978-0-8147-6480-0
Sarah C. Hunter and Damien W. Riggs
Books published on fathering and raising boys are becoming increasingly popular. These books claim simply to describe boys and fathers. However we suggest that they make only specific identities available. We make this suggestion on the basis of a critical analysis of six books published since an initial study by Riggs (2008). In this article we extend Riggs’s analysis by identifying how the books analyzed draw upon hegemonic masculine ideals in constructing boys’ and fathers’ identities. The analysis also suggests that biological essentialism is used to justify the identities constructed. Five specific implications are drawn from the findings, focusing on understandings of males as well as females, the uptake of dominant modes of talking about males, and the ramifications of biological essentialism. The findings emphasize the need to pay ongoing attention to popular parenting books since, rather than offering improved strategies for raising boys, these books present assertions of what boys and fathers should be.
Schools, Masculinity and Boyness in the War Against Boys
Chris Haywood, Máirtín Mac an Ghaill, and Jonathan A. Allan
The re-publication of Christine Hoff Sommers’s book on the War Against Boys (2000, 2013) continues to feed into a widely circulating premise that feminist inspired pedagogical strategies are having a detrimental effect on boys’ experience of education. It resonates with a UK newspaper article whose author asked: “Why do women teachers like me treat being a boy as an illness?” (Child 2010). In the late 1990s, Sara Delamont had already highlighted how the media targeted feminists for the failure of boys, where “school and classroom regimes … favour females and feminine values; a lack of academic/scholarly male role models for boys, a bias in favour of feminism in curricula, a lack of toughness in discipline, and a rejection of competition in academic or sporting matters” (1999: 14).
Jonathan A. Allan
Crises of masculinity and wars on boys often deploy the suicides of young males as a rhetorical strategy in raising awareness for a political cause, that is to say a declaration of war, a war that remains dubious at best. Who, for instance, declared “war” on “boys”? This paper argues that theorists of gender, particularly masculinity, must think carefully and critically about suicide as a rhetorical strategy. In particular, this paper seeks to explain why men’s rights activists and scholars prefer the term “boys” to “young men” or “adolescents,” and subsequently aims to work through ideas of temporality, futurity, and slow death to understand the deployment of suicide as strategy.
Christopher J. Greig. 2014. Ontario Boys: Masculinity and the Idea of Boyhood in Postwar Ontario, 1945-1960. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Xxviii+182 pp. ISBN: 978-1-55458-900-5
Michael Reichert and Richard Hawley. 2014. I Can Learn from You: Boys as Relational Learners. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. 216 pp. ISBN: 9781612506647