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Becoming a Man

Trajectories of Young Gay Men in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Wendell Ferrari and Marcos Nascimento

Abstract

This paper seeks to analyze the affective-sexual trajectories of young gay men in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Based on qualitative research with 15 young, urban, low-income gay men aged between 19 and 24, carried out in 2019, this article shows the learning of masculinity and its consequences on the men's sex lives. As a result, we argue that these young men have been brought up for the exaltation of heterosexuality and being a real man since boyhood; that the pedagogies of masculinity produce hierarchies among gay masculinities; and that the connection with other social markers, such as race, social class, religion, sexual preferences related to being active or passive, and gender expressions, upholds the notion of hegemonic masculinity. Regarding those who escape this pattern, these young men reveal several vulnerabilities and multiple violent acts during their trajectories.

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Anne Watson, Michael Kehler, and Joseph Derrick Nelson

Scholes, Laura. 2018. Boys, Masculinities and Reading: Gender Identity and Literacy as Social Practice. New York: Routledge.

Villavicencio, A. (2021). Am I My Brother's Keeper? Educational Opportunities and Outcomes for Black and Brown Boys. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

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Michael R.M. Ward

I took over as editor of BHS in January 2019. In that time, we have put out three regular issues, which have contained a large variety of work focusing on gender issues concerning boys and young men, and three special issues on more specific topics, such as boyhood and belonging and the work of one of the leading masculinities scholars of the past 30 years, Raewyn Connell. These two recent special issues (13.2 and 14.1) contained work from established and emerging scholars focusing on the twentieth anniversary of Connell's seminal text, The Men and the Boys. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they have been very well received, and articles in this collection are among the most read in the journal's history.

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“Isn't That a Girl Problem?”

Boys, Bodies, and the Discourse of Denial

Michael Kehler and Chris Borduas

Abstract

Revisions to Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculums across Canada have prompted a conservative response denouncing the explicit and robust language used to address sexualities and young bodies. In this paper, we question the (in)visibility of male bodies and a prevailing discourse of denial, while situating the discussion alongside an evolving Canadian curriculum. Drawing on a national study, we examine narratives of adolescent boys to demonstrate how they make sense of locker-room interactions and bodily negotiations among their male peers. We introduce a discourse of denial to illustrate the ways in which adolescent male bodies and body image issues specifically have been misunderstood as a “girl problem” in schools. We argue that a limiting narrative of male bodies ignores the marginalization of boys facing shaming and homophobia in schools. We conclude by calling for a (re)consideration of male bodily practices while proposing changes that would more fully acknowledge adolescent male bodies in schools.

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Making Masculinities on the Street

Exploring Street Boys’ Everyday Relationships on the Streets of Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo

Thandie Hlabana, Lorraine van Blerk, and Janine Hunter

Abstract

Raewyn Connell's seminal texts, including Masculinities (1995), The Men and the Boys (2000), and others have contributed to a nuanced understanding of masculinities as both contextual and relational, including gendered power relations, division of labor, emotional relations, and symbolism. This article seeks to extend Connell's approach by using this nuanced lens of masculinities to examine the lives of boys living on the streets of a city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The article highlights the experiences of everyday relationships over three years for 19 street boys, aged 13–18, and the role of city spaces in their lives. It suggests that the spatiality and temporality of street boys’ relationships shape their masculine practices and identities, as played out in their everyday interactions with each other and with girls, women, and men as part of their daily survival. A mosaic of street masculinities emerges, that is both fluid and complex, shedding light on previously unexplored masculinities in an understudied group and part of the world.

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Kathrine Vitus and Nathalie Perregaard

Abstract

We explore the experience and meaning of being in an arranged male adult friendship for 7–10-year-old boys from single-mother families; we look at this from the perspective of the boys, their mothers, and their adult friends. In analyzing empirical material from a two-year fieldwork study, we draw on methodology and concepts from phenomenology. We propose that boy–adult friendships provide boys with a realization of masculine embodiment and reflect hierarchical masculinity, but that the presence of the male body is essential. We discuss how the analysis contributes to the literature on adult–child friendships, particularly between boys and male nonrelative adults, and to that on masculinity and boyhood studies, exploring boys’ embodiment from a phenomenological perspective.

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Johanna Kingsman

Abstract

Formal rites of passage (ROP) processes are largely lacking within Western culture. This scarcity is seen to be detrimental to adolescent boys’ masculine identity formation. With schools bearing increased responsibility for the well-being of students, and as a way of addressing the apparent cultural deficiency, interest in school-based ROP programs has expanded. This scoping review adopted a systematic methodology to refine an initial accumulation of 708 articles. Nine key articles investigating the impact of school-based ROP programs for adolescent boys were examined. The ROP programs were analyzed according to rationale, design, and impact, with each program focusing on three major domains of impact—community, responsibility, and identity. The review found that adolescent boys’ participation in ROP programs may enhance community engagement, build responsible citizenship, and improve self-perception through the development of positive masculine identity.

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Jeff Hearn

Abstract

In this contribution, I consider some appreciative links and qualified connections between Raewyn Connell's work and my own. In particular, I use the example of sport, a key area in the making of boys and young men in many parts of the world, with special reference to body, practice, and theoretical and empirical conceptualizations of masculinity.

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The Continual Relevance of The Men and the Boys, Twenty Years On

Revisiting Raewyn Connell’s Pivotal Text

Michael R.M. Ward, Kopano Ratele, Sebastián Madrid, Anna Tarrant, Victoria Cann, and Raewyn Connell

Following the launch of our first special issue in December 2020 (Cann et al. 2020) we are delighted to publish this second, linked issue. As evidence of the impact and dominance of Raewyn Connell’s ideas and their influence on the field, we received so many high-quality abstracts in response to our call for papers that we decided to create two collections. This second special issue of Boyhood Studies, An Interdisciplinary Journal, celebrates the twentieth anniversary of Raewyn Connell’s landmark text, The Men and the Boys (2000), and hosts a wide range of international and interdisciplinary authors to highlight the continued global relevance of the book and Connell’s work more widely. This issue continues this work by showcasing an impressive array of empirical research studies and reflection pieces by emerging and leading scholars that are guided by the original themes in The Men and the Boys.

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“Girls Are Like Flowers; Boys Are Like footballs”

How Fathers Hope to Configure Their Sons’ Masculinity

Florencia Herrera

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.