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.
Some Research Perspectives
Adam White and Stefan Robinson
The social function of sport has traditionally been to develop an economically efficient workforce and to prevent young men from becoming effeminate, and by extension homosexual. However, since the 1980s both the social positioning of homosexuality has changed, as has the economic requirements of the Anglo-American workforce. As such, the social function of contemporary sport is negated. With modern athletes now opting for softer masculine presentations, we start the debate on the intersection of sport, health, and inclusive masculinities, an area lacking scholarly attention so far. Through exploring masculinity-challenging discourses, participation rates and athletes’ self-withdrawal from sport when injured, we begin to theorize how modern athletes may view potentially risky and injurious sporting activities, showing that boys today are less inclined to engage in injurious activities, and, when they do, opting for softer and safer strategies.
Guest Editor's Introduction
This introductory article explains the aims of the interdisciplinary conference “Masculinity and the Other” held at Balliol College, Oxford, August 29-30, 2007, at which all of the papers comprising this special issue of Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies were first presented. It points out the prominence which the notions of the “boy” and boyhood and the life-cycle enjoyed at the conference and seeks more generally to suggest the benefits a more fully integrated discussion of these topics might bring to the fields of masculinity and gender studies.
Correlates with Masculinity Ideology
Chris Blazina, Maribel A. Cordova, Stewart Pisecco and Anna G. Settle
This study investigated the Gender Role Conflict Scale-Adolescent Version (GRCS-A) and its relationship with the Gender Role Conflict Scale (GRCS), the measure from which it was adapted. Significant correlations between the adult and adolescent versions provided support for the concurrent validity of the GRCS-A. Further analyses revealed that two other measures of male masculinity, the Adolescent Masculinity Ideology in Relationships Scale (AMIRS) and Male Role Attitudes Scale (MRAS), are also significantly related to the GRCS-A. Implications for future research and clinical use are discussed.
Anti-corporate, Anti-militarist and Martyrdom Masculinities
Manal Hamzeh and Heather Sykes
This article examines the masculinities of Ultras football fans during and after the January 25th Egyptian revolution, within the interlocking systems of power of neoliberalism, militarism and Islamism. The Ultras' anti-corporate masculinities were strengthened through protests against satellite TV and the Egyptian Football Association, while they also developed anti-militarist masculinities as they protested business elites, Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and Central Security Forces. The Ultras developed martyrdom masculinities due to their shock over the Port Said stadium massacre and subsequent retribution protests. The Ultras may be reiterating hegemonic masculinities operating within the same patriarchal logic of the three regimes. Their grief and shock may be limiting their self-reflexivity and capacity to build coalitions.
Boys, Masculinity and Historical Memory in War Comics 1945–1995
This article maintains that as a genre war comics are a valuable and neglected source for understanding constructions of ideal masculinity in the post-war West. While its main focus is the depiction of heroic manliness in one of the most commercially successful American war comics, G.I. Joe, comparisons are made with Britain’s Commando Comics and the German pictorial war magazine Landser, which concentrated mainly on the Second World War and also enjoyed wide popularity. The article suggests that while mainly addressing an adolescent readership, over time these comics came to direct their political and moral messages not only to boys but also to increasing numbers of older men who had started reading these comics when they were boys themselves. In particular, it argues that war comics strategically deployed notions of “boyishness” in their story lines, exploiting both the negative and positive connotations of the word to make readers question the egotism and immorality of contemporary society.
Masculinities of Coloured Adolescents Awaiting Trial in Post-Apartheid Cape Town, South Africa
Adam Cooper and Don Foster
This study explored the young, marginalised masculinities of 25 boys awaiting trial for various offences in Cape Town, South Africa. The boys came from impoverished areas created by Apartheid legislation and most of the boys were involved in gangs. Through their language and descriptions of practices the boys construct three intersecting discourses of masculinity, as they strive to be the toughest gangster, the sweet “mommy’s boy” and a “gentleman” who provides and protects for his family. Although the boys end up in the criminal justice system awaiting trial, they still have a certain amount of agency, as they slide between discourses and temporarily become gangster superheroes. These boys’ masculinities are bound up with their context: they live in a place with a violent past and a tumultuous post-Apartheid present, precipitating substantially ambivalent subjectivities.
The present article discusses the importance of age in the construction of masculinities during the Hellenistic period. Focusing on the comedies of Menander, it aims to show how not only chronological or physical age, but also mental age, that is, maturity, modifies different concepts of masculinity, especially “ideal masculinity.” Other important factors in the construction of gender such as social and economic standing, class and education are also discussed. The relationship between fathers and sons is of particular interest and importance as it exemplifies how the masculinities represented in Menander were dynamic, not only developing but also changing between groups of different age and social importance.
Robyn Singleton, Jacqueline Carter, Tatianna Alencar, Alicia Piñeirúa-Menéndez and Kate Winskell
A study of 50 narratives (16 male-authored, 34 female-authored, ages 13–16) contributed to a scriptwriting competition by Mexican youth from Oaxaca State was undertaken to understand youth social representations of hegemonic masculinity. Representations of masculinity manifested within three domains: substance use, companionate or abusive relationships, and economic roles. Positively portrayed male characters maintained companionate relationships and economically provided for loved ones. Rejection of abusive rural male characters who misuse financial resources occurred via condemnatory language and tragic outcomes. The young authors highlight financial control as a key element of Mexican masculinity, but this control goes unchallenged if dependents benefit. The rejection of a macho hegemonic masculinity in favor of a companionate relationship model mirrors historic trends in Mexico regarding migration, gender, class, and modernity.
Hegemonic Boyhood Masculinity as Depicted in Boy’s Life Magazine, 1911–2012
Susan M. Alexander and Kelsey Collins
Hegemonic masculinity is a fluid concept that varies according to historical period and social and cultural location. While much has been written about hegemonic masculinity as experienced by adult men, research is lacking on hegemonic masculinity in boyhood from an historical perspective. Using a quantitative content analysis of images on the covers of Boy’s Life magazine, this study finds three distinct historically specific images of hegemonic American boyhood masculinity: boys who serve their country as patriotic scouts in uniform; boys who admire celebrities, particularly professional athletes; and a branded boyhood in which boys wear brand name products while engaging in sports activities.