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.
A Study of Inclusive Masculinities among High School Cross-Country Runners
Luis Morales and Edward Caffyn-Parsons
This empirical study examines sixteen- to seventeen-year-old heterosexual male cross-country athletes from a diverse, middle-class high school in California and how they express physical tactility and emotional intimacy in a culture of diminished homohysteria. Using participative and non-participative observations of the team, coupled with ten in-depth interviews, we find acceptance of gay men, and note a range of homosocial behaviors including bed-sharing, cuddling, hand holding, hugging, and emotional intimacy. We discuss the ways in which heterosexual boundaries and identities are maintained, and the process by which normalizing heterosexuality as the assumed sexual orientation contributes to heterosexism. Despite the reproduction of heterosexism, the relationships these high school athletes form with each other are not predicated on homophobia or hypermasculinity. Finally, we discuss adolescent expressions of masculinity in the transition to manhood and in the face of diminishing homohysteria.