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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.

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Hegemonic Masculinity and “Badness”

How Young Women Bargain with Patriarchy “On Road”

Clare Choak

Abstract

The relationship between masculinity, crime, and violence has a long history, whereby hegemonic masculinity is utilized as a resource to create and sustain tough reputations “on road”, where everyday lives are played out on urban streets. Within the context of road culture—of which gangs are part—this is particularly significant given the hypermasculine focus. This paper considers Raewyn Connell's (1995; 1997; 2000) work on hegemonic masculinity and emphasized femininity and develops it in new directions by exploring how these hegemonic identities are inscribed on women's bodies. In the English context, the dominant discourse around young women “on road” is of that of passivity, as they are victims first and offenders second. An underexplored area is their role as perceived “honorary men” when adopting behavior associated with hegemonic masculinity, therefore how they bargain with patriarchy within these spaces is explored.

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“Let Us Be Giants”

Masculinity Nostalgia and Military Edutainment in South Asian War Comics

Tehmina Pirzada

Abstract

Since 2003, a budding collection of English-language war comics dealing with military conflicts between India and Pakistan have become part of the comic book repertoire in both countries. This article focuses on two such comics, Siachen (2012) and Haider (2015). Drawing upon Raewyn Connell's theorization of hegemonic masculinity, the article analyzes how the masculine role models depicted in Haider and Siachen vehemently deny the horrific emotional and physical costs of warfare. By examining hegemonic masculinity in the comics through masculinity nostalgia, and through close reading of the characters’ physical appearances and their shared military camaraderie, this article establishes how the comics endorse militancy and warfare for the purpose of entertainment and education, thereby serving as military propaganda, regardless of the creators’ personal intent.

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Masculinity, Fun, and Social Change

Reflections on The Men and the Boys

C.J. Pascoe

Abstract

Raewyn Connell's theorizing in The Men and the Boys shaped my analysis of young men's engagements with masculinity, and my thinking about gender inequality more generally. The claims about relationships between global inequalities and gender relations in that text shifted my focus away from types of boys—gay boys, straight boys, nerdy boys, popular boys—to a focus on gender relations among boys themselves, processes by which boys both robbed others of precious indicators of masculinity and attempted to claim said indicators for themselves. This shift highlights the centrality of interaction, practice, and institutions to gender inequality among American teenagers. The essay concludes by discussing how Connell's focus on global inequalities provided a foundation from which to argue that many of the same gendered dynamics we see among American teenagers—what I came to call masculinity contests—are also deeply woven into political discourses and practices.

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Michael J. Richardson

Abstract

I have carried Connell's work with me as I have embarked on a career within human geography with specialist interest in gender and generation. Although my empirical lens has shifted and expanded in different ways and at different times, those same theoretical underpinnings have remained in place. I found myself returning to Connell's work on The Men and The Boys in my most recent academic work, namely through a “young dads and lads” project. Particularly noteworthy are the ways in which these young men move (and are moved by others) in between “boyhood,” “manhood,” and back again. Connell's work helps me understand how processes of childhood socialization gendered these boys, and how as young men they are gendered still through processes of fatherhood. I am left questioning what is left behind when boys become men. I also am left needing to thank Raewyn for my lectureship—perhaps these reflections will go some way toward doing so.

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Still Just Hegemonic After All These Years?

“Worst Thing S/He Thinks About Me” Predicts Attitudinal Risk Factors for High School Healthy Relationships Program

Jessica J. Eckstein and Erika Sabovik

Abstract

Men and boys are commonly viewed as perpetrators and/or facilitators of relational violence, but this biological essentializing oversimplifies “masculinity” as “bad.” Connell illustrated the complex roles of bodies, structural order maintenance, and “pupils as agents, school as setting” (Connell 2000: 161) in shaping masculinity processes. Our study examined these factors by examining how peer perceptions of gendered identity threats relate to beliefs negatively affecting power relations. Students (N = 87; n = 36 males, 51 females) from four classes at two high schools in Connecticut provided pre- and post-test data for a Sexual Violence Prevention Program. Results show unhealthy attitudes related to peer perceptions as a basis for violence scenarios. We discuss primary-prevention curricular implications by addressing masculinities as social relationships involved in adolescents facilitating healthy relational practices.

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Timothy Laurie, Catherine Driscoll, Liam Grealy, Shawna Tang, and Grace Sharkey

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.

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The Unrealized Potential of Body-Reflexive Practices

Intimations of a New Materialism

Steve Garlick

Abstract

Raewyn Connell's work foregrounds bodies in a way that challenges the social-constructionist orientation that has dominated much of the critical research on masculinities. Yet, her concept of “body-reflexive practices” is one of the least explored aspects of her work. In this commentary, I argue that body-reflexive practices, as the concept is developed in The Men and the Boys, points in the direction of a potentially productive convergence between masculinity studies and new materialist theories. In its engagement with the nature of bodies underlying the cultural construction of gender, Connell's work maintains a relevance that has been largely unappreciated. This is especially the case for boys and young men as they develop masculinities in negotiation with their corporeal capacities.