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
Grace Skahan, McGill University
In recent decades, it has been well established by scholars and activists alike that engaging men and boys in gender-based violence prevention and gender equality efforts is critical to the success of these movements. This is important not simply because men are often the perpetrators of violence, but also because they have the potential to serve as important allies in the struggles against such violence. However, the number of men who are critically engaged, or even interested in gender-related issues remains low and little information exists on young men who are involved in and/or interested in gender-related causes. Using the sociological concept of hegemonic masculinity, my research seeks to better understand what institutions, cultural and social practices and relationships lead young men to be interested in gender-based violence prevention in order to better understand the development of counter-hegemonic masculinities. According to hegemonic masculinity, institutions and structures uphold problematic gender norms in such a way that they become normalized and often invisibilized. If we are to examine sites where cultural and social practices and institutions uphold gender inequalities, then intervention and prevention programs must also understand how progressive norms that challenge hegemonic masculinity are supported by institutions and cultural and social practices. While the literature existing on this topic is limited, what does exist shows us that examining counter-hegemonic masculinity development can bring to light patterns of relation and resistance and help us to rigorously examine whether such pathways are indeed upholding feminist values of anti- oppression and intersectionality. Deepening research on all the above can greatly contribute to building more justly gendered futures and contribute to an important and growing body of research that can critically inform gender-based violence prevention educational initiatives with youth.
Samantha Cima, University of Alberta
In 2017, Terry Crews, ex-football player and celebrity personality, disclosed his own experience of sexual assault. Crews, a 6’2 muscular Black man, does not fit the stereotypical image of ‘sexual violence survivor.’ Judith Butler’s performativity theory illuminates how identities are discursively and relationally formed through repeated stylizations of acts and bodies. These performances are policed by all members of society, introducing precarity for those who fail to signal an appropriate performance (based on gender, race, and so on). As the performance of the male gender does not allow vulnerability, instead forcing domination and strength, the experience of sexual victimization creates a state of precarity and exclusion for male survivors, including Crews. While Butler’s performativity theory clarifies the ways male survivors are subordinated to the rest of the male gender, it does not analyze what drives the will to perform and signal various identities. Patricia H. Collins’ standpoint theory recognizes marginalized groups’ knowledge and ways of knowing as unique standpoints that provide insight into how dominant society operates. Though the focus is on subjugated groups, this paper extends this analysis by examining how racism impacts Black men through mandates of hypermasculinity and hypersexuality, thereby creating subgroups of men who experience marginalization despite still having male privilege. This paper combines Butler and Collins, despite their differences, to illustrate how the experience of sexual victimization creates a state of precarity for male survivors, which fosters their subordination to the rest of the male gender. Using Crews as a case study, this paper demonstrates the specific subjugated standpoint that has created different ways of knowing for male survivors of sexual violence than the rest of the male gender.
Melanie Heath, McMaster University
Over the past three decades, sociological research on men and masculinities has addressed transformations in how masculinity is practiced in societies across the globe. These changes have been conceptualized in relation to “hegemonic masculinity,” the masculinity at the top of the gender hierarchy that works to legitimate patriarchy and institutionalize unequal power relations between men and women and among men (Connell 1995; Messerschmidt 2012). In recent years, scholars have theorized the emergence of “hybrid masculinities” that incorporate elements of marginalized/racialized and subordinated/feminized masculinities into privileged men’s gender performances and identities (Bridges and Pascoe 2014). Studies of this hybridity have primarily focused on how privileged, White men borrow elements of those who are “Othered” into their own identity projects. A central question of this research is whether transformations in masculinities move in a new, more liberating direction. Based on in-depth interviews with men living in plural marriages (having more than one wife) in the United States and France, this paper considers how plural marriage shapes men’s identities based on racial privileging or racial othering, moving beyond the focus of studying hybridity only among White privileged men. I consider the question of whether hybrid masculinities among these men can led to a softer masculinity in relation to the wives’ power and the structural forces that alienate some men due to their race and class status.