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Introduction

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).

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Jonathan A. Allan, Chris Haywood and Frank G. Karioris

Men’s prostate orgasms, cuckold culture, breastfeeding fathers, and erectile dysfunction technologies have epithetically signaled how men’s bodies, sexualities, and masculinities have exceeded the gender and sexual order of modernity. A proliferation of practices, discourses, and affects that appear to denaturalize and decenter Western epistemologies of the erotic have generated a number of sociocultural uncertainties around how we understand men and their bodies. Gender and sexual identities that have been veridically located within and on the body are becoming increasingly dispersed. Jeffrey Weeks (2007) suggests that the unifying ideologies about sexuality and gender, promulgated through traditional authorities of the church, the family, and conventional morality, have acted to stabilize the norms and values in place. He suggests that the ideological hold of such authorities has become broken “by decades of challenge and change and eroded by the dissolving powers of global flows, economic modernization, and cultural transformations, as well as by the will for change represented by the everyday choices of countless millions” (2007: 109). The impact of such shifts has been realized in the form of broader social and cultural realization and public reflexiveness about the ontological myths that have pervaded men’s identities and practices. In short, the mimetic connection between men’s bodies, identities, and practices has been fractured, resulting in increasing awareness of the heterogeneity of what it means to be a man. One of the impacts of this development has been attempts to nostalgically re-establish the old ontological certainties about men and reconstruct a truth of gender and sexuality. It is at this moment, in the slipstream of increasing media scrutiny, political concern, and broader social and cultural interrogation about what it means to be a man, that this journal locates itself.

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Jonathan A. Allan, Chris Haywood and Frank G. Karioris

As noted in our introduction, the Journal of Bodies, Sexualities, and Masculinities hopes to do things differently. One of these differences, which perhaps may not be all that different, is that our journal will have a rotating cover image. Each issue will include a different image that is reflective of the journal or perhaps of a particular article in the issue. One goal behind this practice is to promote spaces and places that may be unknown to scholars working in the field; as such, we will work with various archives to acquire images that we can freely disseminate, and in each issue we will provide a brief overview of the archive consulted to obtain the cover image. Too often archives work in isolation; sometimes they are funded by private sources and are not part of the academy.