Masculinities in Transition I

Thursday May 19 11:00 am to 12:30 pm (Eastern Daylight Time)
Virtual Platform

Session Code: GAS3A
Session Format: Regular Session
Session Language: English
Research Cluster Affiliation: Gender and Sexuality
Session Categories: Regular Session

At its root, one of the greatest obstacles to addressing the challenges of our time and the inadequacies of our social structures and institutions is masculinity. This session addresses the impact of traditional masculinity yet also the growing transitions away from the traditional, hegemonic, colonial, and ‘toxic’ masculinities, towards more robust, fluid, and accessible masculinities. Tags: Gender, Masculinity, Sexuality, Social Structure

Organizers: Chris Tatham, University of Toronto, Paulina García-Del Moral, University of Guelph; Chairs: Chris Tatham, University of Toronto, Paulina García-Del Moral, University of Guelph


Navjotpal Kaur, Memorial University

Punjabi masculinities and transnational spaces: performance, choice, and othering

Researchers on transnational men and masculinities portray migrant men as a rather homogeneous group who cause or occasionally deal with similar problems. Similarly, international students are mostly studied in relation to their education or school, rather than as part of the gendered, migrant population who are transitioning to becoming immigrants and experience complexities regarding aspects of their social identities. The lacuna in literature opens avenues for a comprehensive understanding of student-migrant men’s identities and masculinities in response to the intricacies of source and host situation as well as their hegemonic content. Building on existing literature on transnational masculinities and partly on Identity Process Theory, I focus on upper-caste Punjabi men who came to Canada as international students. Through in-depth interviews with 22 men, I explore the significance of landownership, caste identity, and transnational communication in constituting the hegemonic masculinities in transnational spaces, and the ‘othering’ faced by young men in Canada. 

Anna Lippman, York University

Sensitive Thugs: reformulating masculinity and vulnerability through rap music

Suge Knight, the former CEO of the famed Death Row Records, once said that hip-hop is a man’s world (Hurt 2006). When we consider the extreme stereotypes and tropes associated with (mostly Black) rappers, we can see the truth in this statement. Yet, neither hip-hop, nor its formulations of authentic masculinity, remain static. In between explicit lyrics about dominating women and getting paid, rap music also provides a forum for men to discuss their fears, hopes, and vulnerabilities against the backdrop of hard-hitting beat. Through a reformulation of hegemonic and protest masculinity, rap music allows young men to discuss their emotions, admit weakness and vulnerability, and speak frankly on mental health. Tupac famously rapped: “I cry at times I once contemplated suicide/but when I tried all I could see was my mama’s eyes” (Shakur 2002). At the same time, this emotive lyricism is only possible when coupled with explicit reference to, and important signifiers of, protest masculinity. This paper presentation discusses the current and socio-historical importance of hip-hop culture and rap music as an important “space” for young men’s identity construction and performance. Using notes and ethnographic experiences from working in youth social services, a discussion of the importance of this type of masculinity is examined and contextualized against larger social structures such as race and class. Suggestions for detangling the positive aspects of identity construction through hip-hop (i.e. ethnic pride, resiliency, creativity) from the negative aspects (i.e. homophobia, patriarchy, capitalism) are introduced.

Connor MacMillan, Simon Fraser University

What does masculinity have to do with it? Men, fathers' rights groups and the complexities of manhood

The socially constructed gender role of masculinity fosters a concept of a prototypical masculine performance, which disseminates an ideal of how men are supposed to act within given social situations. Men are socialized to believe that, by embodying the virtues of masculinity (e.g., hard work, dedication, discipline), they are entitled to power and control, such as through being a self-made man. Thus, a masculine social performance is often dependent upon the degree to which a man can embody, foster, and display forms of power and control inherently imbued within a hegemonic masculine gender role. However, through a surge in gender equitable ideologies, men may come to feel emasculated and humiliated if their masculine role is being challenged. If enactments of masculinity fail to achieve the gendered norms of entitled power and control, it invokes a sese of self-blame and humiliation that prompts a masculine sense of, what they feel to be, righteous rage. A thwarted sense of entitlement can provoke chronic forms of anger in which men will seek to enact performances to reify their gender role and mitigate feelings of humiliation. For example, fathers’ rights groups emerged as a response to men’s perceived gender inequality and belief of a lack of social, paternal, and gendered rights; these groups seek to empower men and their masculine performance by teaching them to defend their manhood and inherent rights. Using a thematic analysis and a grounded theory approach this research examines 1) how father’s rights groups assist men regain a masculine identity that is perceived as being challenged; 2) how father’s rights groups assist men mobilize support in defence of their entitled gendered rights; 3) how men react to and perceive a loss of an entitled access to privileged resources; and 4) what institutions or systems men perceive as perpetuating this entitlement.

Matt Husain, University of British Columbia

Masculinity and suicides in young Bangladeshi-Canadian men in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)

This article problematizes the significance of the issue of homogeneity in immigrant health service delivery and settlement supports that are associated with social disconnection and self-harm. In collaboration with a community-based partner, the article investigates the ways in which young Muslim Bangladeshi-Canadian men from immigrant households navigate parental expectations and pressures placed upon them as both carriers of tradition and embodiments of Bangladeshi cultural and familial “success” and “achievement.” In particular, the article aims to understand how young Bangladeshi-Canadian men in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) interpret the integration of neoliberalism and Islam as it is practiced in their communities. The objectives of the article is to: 1) articulate how the GTA’s Bengali Muslim community define “success”; 2) determine how social and economic pressures are developed and amplified in the Bangladeshi diaspora, and how young Bangladeshi-Canadian men internalize and contest these expectations; and, 3) describe how young Bangladeshi-Canadian men navigate the socio-economic expectations, demands, and psychological pressures resulting from the cultural traditions, Islamic observances, and the new opportunities presented by their new lives in the GTA. The article achieves these objectives by understanding specific parental expectations and relations with their adult male children as well as the voices of those young men, and their living experiences to properly address their needs. The findings reveal that it is important that we understand social disconnection and self-harm in relation to cultural and familial “success” and “achievement” to improve access and advance on the path of equity for marginalized Bangladeshi-Canadian youth.