As the global youth population grows exponentially across Africa, there is increasing recognition of the risky health behaviors impeding boys’ healthy transitions through puberty. This study in Tanzania sought to capture boys’ voiced experiences of transitioning through adolescence, and the masculinity norms shaping boys’ engagement in risky behaviors. A critical finding was the gap in parent-son communication around pubertal body changes and avoidance of risk behaviors. Findings also suggest influences from globalization and modernization are changing boys’ pubertal experiences and introducing new challenges for parents attempting to provide guidance. Given evidence from high-income countries indicating parents can serve as protective factors for young people during the transition through adolescence, additional research is needed to understand current parent-son dynamics and potential interventions.
Implications for Adolescent Health
Marni Sommer, Samuel Likindikoko, and Sylvia Kaaya
Emerging Vulnerabilities and New Opportunities for Promoting Changes in Gender Norms
Gary Barker, Ravi Verma, John Crownover, Marcio Segundo, Vanessa Fonseca, Juan Manuel Contreras, Brian Heilman, and Peter Pawlak
This article presents a review of global data on boys' education in the Global South and recent findings on the influence of boys' educational attainment on their attitudes and behaviors in terms of gender equality. The article also presents three examples—from Brazil, the Balkans, and India—on evaluated, school-based approaches for engaging boys and girls in reducing gender-based violence and promoting greater support for gender equality. Recommendations are provided for how to integrate such processes into the public education system in such a way that provides benefits for both boys and girls in a relational approach.
Michael Atkinson and Michael Kehler
There has been a dramatic rise in public, and particularly the media, attention directed at concerns regarding childhood obesity, and body shape/contents/images more broadly. Yet amidst the torrential call for increased attention on so-called “body epidemics” amongst youth in Canada and elsewhere, links between youth masculinities and bodily health (or simply, appearance) are largely unquestioned. Whilst there is a well-established literature on the relationship between, for example, body image and marginalized femininities, qualitative studies regarding boys and their body images (and how they are influenced within school settings) remain few and far between. In this paper, we offer insight into the dangerous and unsettled spaces of high school locker-rooms and other “gym zones” as contexts in which particular boys face ritual (and indeed, systematic) bullying and humiliation because their bodies (and their male selves) simply do not “measure up.” We draw on education, masculinities, health, and the sociology of bodies literature to examine how masculinity is policed by boys within gym settings as part of formal/informal institutional regimes of biopedagogy. Here, Foucault’s (1967) notion of heterotopia is drawn heavily upon in order to contextualize physical education class as a negotiated and resisted liminal zone for young boys on the fringes of accepted masculinities in school spaces.
Our longitudinal studies of boys over the past two decades have revealed that boys have and/or want intimate male friendships and that these relationships are critical for their mental health. Yet as they reach late adolescence, boys become wary of their male best friends even as they continue to want emotional intimacy with these peers. As the pressures of stereotypic manhood intensify, boys disconnect from the very relationships that support their mental health. The numerous challenges faced by boys in school and at home are in part a reflection of this disconnection.
Karl Frerichs, Peter Kuriloff, Celine Kagan, Joseph Nelson, Dwight Vidale, and John Thornburg
"Reinventing Leadership Training Using a Participatory Research Model" by Karl Frerichs and Peter Kurlioff
"Reading for Masculinity in the High School English Classroom" by Celine Kagan
"Helping Boys Take Flight: A Peer-Mentoring Program for Boys of color at the Riverdale Country School" by Joseph Nelson and Dwight Vidale
"A Relational Approach to Teaching Boys" by John Thornburg
There is a strong relationship between the cultural practices of competitive, organized youth sport and compulsory physical education. The hyper-masculine, violent, and homophobic culture traditionally found within boys segregated sporting spaces is mirrored when youth are compelled to participate in physical education. However, cultural homophobia is on rapid decline in Western countries. Recent research shows high school and university sport to be an increasingly inclusive environment for openly gay male youth. I explore this cultural shift among high school (sixth form) physical education students in England. Using three months of ethnography, and conducting 17 in-depth interviews with 16-18 year old ostensibly heterosexual boys, I show an absence of homophobia and homophobic discourse, the abatement of violence, the absence of a jock-ocratic school culture, and the emotional support of male friends. Thus, I show that while the structure of sport education has remained the same, the hyper-masculine culture surrounding it has changed.
This paper is based on longitudinal, ethnographic research with young people from ages 10-18 growing up in urban, low-income, immigrant communities of color and how they represented their everyday lives and family-school relationships through photography and video. The author analyzes the similarities and differences between the boys’ and girls’ perceptions, participation in, and representations of their care worlds and how this shapes their identities. The article features the themes of love, care and solidarity that were central to the boys’ understandings and identities, re-casting widely held assumptions about the crisis of Black boyhood that preoccupy current educational discourse.
Support for and Silencing of Queer Voice in Schools, Families, and Communities
Gilligan (1996) and other feminist relational psychologists have identified a “silencing” to which adolescent girls are vulnerable when they confront pressures to conform to patriarchal values and norms in various social contexts. As Machoian (2005) and other researchers have noted, the silencing of girls’ authentic voices at adolescence is associated with heightened risk for depression and for suicide, cutting, eating disorders, and other self-harming behaviors. This article is based on in-depth interviews that examined the ways in which lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identifying youth might be subject to an analogous silencing of their authentic “queer voices.” Drawing on four case studies of male youth who participated in a larger qualitative research project, the article examines how schools, families, and communities both supported and silenced the authentic expression of their voices as gay- or queer-identifying boys. Since two of the case studies are based on interviews with participants at both late adolescence and young adulthood, the article also examines the effects of supportive factors over time and how they helped contribute to a purposeful, voiced sense of queer male identity as the participants reached manhood.
Bullying, Privilege and the Schooling of Hegemonic Masculinity
Brett G. Stoudt
In order to better understand the socialization and (re)production of privilege, most especially gendered privilege, within elite independent schools it is important to examine the masculine performances of its students enacted through bullying as well as the masculine environments in which these enactments are produced. This paper will begin explicating the messages received and the representations shaped by Rockport’s hegemonic masculine curriculum and the embodiment of these dynamics through research on bullying conducted with students and faculty at an elite, single-sex independent boys school, Rockport. The data revealed that bullying between boys at Rockport helped to discipline and reproduce hegemonic masculine boundaries; it was as much an expression of Rockport’s culture as it was a vehicle for policing and reproducing its culture. However, not only were the boys within Rockport gendered, the faculty and even the institution itself was gendered. In this way, it was systemic, both students and faculty acted within this institutional culture and held and managed expectations about their gender.
Adolescent African American Boys' Response to Gender Scripting
Lionel C. Howard
This article focuses on the ways in which a select group of adolescent African American males respond to gender scripts. Drawing on interview and focus group data, the article describes four different responses to messages they receive from peers and significant adults about socio-culturally appropriate behaviors and characteristics of masculinity: 1) adapting or modifying their presentations of self, 2) internalizing ascribed gender scripts, 3) resisting, and 4) remaining conflicted about an appropriate response. Narratives highlight the complexity of gender identity development and active participation of African American boys in the construction of a masculine identity that feels most authentic, as well as the role of agents of socialization on identity.