This paper employs data from from a multi-year, ethnographic study of children in a diverse public preschool to destabilize some of the claims of the “boy crisis” literature (Hoff-Somers, 2000). Focusing on fine-grained analyses of events in the study context, the authors illustrate the complexity of everyday interactions between female teachers and the male and female preschoolers in their classes, as well as between the male and female preschoolers themselves. These analyses suggest that a preschool environment where all teachers are female is as patriarchally and hegemonically saturated as any other context, as both boys and girls (and teachers) are subject to, and invariably take up, powerful cultural scripts reflected in children’s and other media in the larger cultural milieu. Further, we emphasize that preschool—arguably among the most “feminized” school environments—is more complex than “boy crisis” proponents present.
Boys, Girls and the "Boy Crisis" in Preschool
Sally Campbell Galman and Christine A. Mallozzi
James Franco's Psychosexual Artistic Explorations of Boyhood
In 2010, James Franco debuted his exhibition “The Dangerous Book Four Boys” at the Clocktower Gallery. He appropriated his title from the Igguldens’ guidebook The Dangerous Book for Boys (2006). This paper explores Franco’s representation of boyhood, focusing on his anxiety over traditional gender roles. Dangerous depicts boyhood as a homosocial and homoerotic realm in which women are both envied and elided. Franco’s vision of boyhood is premised upon a longing for both domestic structures and practices. The exhibit is organized around several small rough-hewn wooden structures resembling small houses. Inside the constructions, the films Destroy House and Castle depict young men destroying identical domiciles with axes, shotguns and blowtorches. Ironically, these violent depictions are safely contained within intact replicas of the very structures being destroyed in the films. These constructions are emblematic of Franco’s fraught relationship to masculinity, stereotypical gender roles and domesticity.
Queerness, Pedophilia and Perversions in "L.I.E." and "Mysterious Skin"
Sarag E. S. Sinwell
Drawing on the work of Gayle Rubin, Jonathan Dollimore, and B. Ruby Rich, this paper will explore the ways in which Michael Cuesta’s L.I.E. (2000) and Gregg Araki’s Mysterious Skin (2004) portray adolescent male bodies and subjectivities within the context of the queer. Throughout these films, cinematic identification is primarily tied up with the stories of adolescent boys. However, the perverse acts in which they participate (both voluntarily and involuntarily), the inclusion of multiple points of view, and the focus on our own cultural constructions of childhood, adolescent and adult sexualities trace a network of nodes of identification. Thus, I argue that L.I.E. and Mysterious Skin queer identification by imagining a multiplicity, fluidity, and diversity of modes of identification that engage with both the normal and perverse natures of identity, sexuality, and subjectivity.
Masochism in Alan Hollinghurst's "The Folding Star"
This article reads Hollinghurst’s The Folding Star through a synthesis of Freud’s theories of transference and the death drive and Jean Laplanche’s theory of infantile masochism. My reading traces the role of masochism in the formation of the gay male subject and in this way contributes towards an understanding of the repressed masochism which is central to psychic life, and more specifically to an understanding of its role within masculinity and gay masculinities. Through this reading I attempt to shed light on the problems of such an identity both for the subject and for a relationality at work within Hollinghurst’s novel which is consistently dependent upon a melancholic preservation of heterosexual masculinity.
Introducing a Special Issue on Boyish Temporalities
Diederik F. Janssen
Pioneering cultural historian Johan Huizinga’s short chapter on puerilism, featured in his interwar essay In the Shadow of Tomorrow, famously highlighted what he considered the mutual “contamination of play and seriousness in modern life.” “Puerilism we shall call the attitude of a community whose behaviour is more immature than the state of its intellectual and critical faculties would warrant, which instead of making the boy into the man adapts its conduct to that of the adolescent age” (Huizinga, 1935 [1936, p. 170]). The puerilist condition degrades the serious to the superficial, true and ritual play to boundless childishness. It is a dangerous and decadent symptom, a “bastardization of culture,” a semi-seriousness and appetite for the sensational and the trivial appealing to obedient masses and small minds. Modern man becomes a slave to his comforts. “In his world full of wonders man is like a child in a fairy tale. He can travel through the air, speak to another hemisphere, have a continent delivered in his home by radio. He presses a button and life comes to him. Will such a life give him maturity?”
Postwar American Melodrama and the Crisis of Queer Juvenility
This essay analyzes the cinematic genre convention of the “sensation scene” as a vehicle for the representation of queer crises in American juvenility during the postwar era. Through popular cinema, post-WWII America organized and communicated concerns about the production of “fit” masculine and heterosexual juveniles who would be capable of carrying out the postwar expansion of American democratic and capitalist ideologies. The sensation scene was deployed by popular films to mark queer and racialized masculinities in an aesthetic system that mirrored institutional efforts to prevent “unfit” juveniles from accessing the benefits of full social and political participation. Today, the genre device continues to structure popular film representations of and common thinking about the relative value of young, male American lives.
Trans Sailors and Cultures of Resistance
Looking to queer and trans cultural texts from DIY zines to classic queer literature to contemporary experimental cinema, this article considers how sailors represent boyhood as a trangressive embodiment that reworks masculinities and processes of representation. By locating the youthful transmasculine body as a representational norm, queer/trans films like Maggots and Men (2009) create spaces through which sailors reshape meanings assigned to maleness, boys, and men. A linked analysis of Micah Bazant’s self-published Timtum (1999) and James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room (1956) raises further questions about the signs and codes of sailors and postadolescent boyhood in opening up new embodiments for gender non-conforming adults. Investigating how trans sailors become icons of youthful nostalgia and queer masculinities, this paper also questions correlations between sailors and Whiteness, boyhood, colonialism, migration and race.
Adolescent masculinity in the 1980s was marked by the need to distance oneself from the specter of “the fag.” In this homohysteric culture, compulsory heterosexuality and high rates of anti-gay sentiment necessitated that adolescent boys distance themselves from anything associated with femininity. It was this zeitgeist that brought Connell’s hegemonic masculinity theory to the vanguard of masculine studies. However, homohysteria has diminished among adolescents today. Accordingly, in this article, I foreground research extracts from multiple ethnographies on groups of 16-year-old adolescent boys in order to contextualize the repeated and consistent data I find throughout both the United States and the United Kingdom. In explaining how the diminishment of homohysteria promotes a “One-Direction” culture of inclusive and highly feminized masculinities, I suggest that new social theories are required.
Theoretical Reflections and the Case of Early School Leaving
Elli Scambor and Victor Seidler
The paper discusses the phenomenon of the “boy crisis” in education by following trajectories which seek to describe the situation of boys at school in different countries across Europe in its complexity. The current study of the Role of Men in Gender Equality (Scambor, Wojnicka & Bergmann, eds., 2012) offers an international comparison of the situation of boys and outlines major trends related to gender disparities in education across Europe. An in-depth analysis of male early school leavers leads to a deeper understanding of boys and men as heterogeneous social groups. Relations between so called “costs” and “privileges” in education show considerable varieties due to differences between boys, with educational careers being strongly influenced by social class, “race,” and ethnicities as well as migration backgrounds.
Noah N. Allooh, Christina M. Rummell, and Ronald F. Levant
The present study examined the extent to which youth who endorse emo subculture reject the traditional masculine norm of restrictive emotionality. It also examined the relationships between endorsement and rejection of emo subculture and traditional masculine and feminine norms and masculine gender role conflict. In Study 1 (N = 13) three focus groups were conducted to create the mixed methods Emo Culture Questionnaire (ECQ). In Study 2 (N = 164) exploratory factor analysis of the quantitative part of the ECQ resulted in a 15-item, 4-factor scale; however, due to low reliabilities, only two scales were used in the analyses. Three hypotheses were mostly supported. The endorsement of emo subculture by men was negatively associated with their Restrictive Emotionality subscale scores of both the Male Role Norms Inventory-Revised (MRNI-R) and Gender Role Conflict Scale (GRCS). The endorsement of emo subculture by women was negatively associated with their MRNI-R Restrictive Emotionality scores but was not positively associated their Femininity Ideology Scale (FIS) Emotionality scores. Negative views of the emo subculture by both men and women were positively correlated with their MRNI-R Restrictive Emotionality scores. An exploratory question found that the endorsement of emo subculture had significant negative correlations with three additional MRNI-R subscales and the total scale for men and with five MRNI-R subscales and the total scale for women. In addition, the endorsement of emo subculture had significant negative correlations with two FIS subscales, and with two additional GRCS subscales and the total scale for men. Qualitative results from the ECQ indicated that while the label “emo” may not function as a personal identifier, the music, fashion, and behavior thus identified remain popular.