ERG SES G 07, Gender and Education
With an increased level of interest in young peoples rights for full development, the United Kingdom has employed several school-based initiatives supporting children with the aim to transition them as effectively as possible from one phase to the next. As such, many aspects of childhood are being studied to inform, including bullying.Although recognizing bullying as having detrimental affects upon students, Cooper et al. (2004) reminds us that not all bullying is being addressed equally, nor occurring only in school.
Some researchers (e.g. Davies, 2004) suggest young gay males are subject to sexism through homophobic bullying. This is further supported by organizations serving LGBT adolescents who are aware that sexual minority youth face sexism due to their sexual identity. However, there is an increased concern amongst youth workers that these feelings of oppression and consequences of sexism have resulted in young gay males engaging in sexist behavior themselves as a socially accepted hierarchical model. Adult gay male misogyny is already well researched (e.g. Connell, 2005); however, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore why young gay males use sexism as a tool to support masculine boundaries, and is under-researched.
This paper considers why gay male youth support hegemonic masculinities through sexist bullying. I draw from a series of seminars I ran with an LGBT youth organization, each attended by twelve to seventeen male and female sexual minority adolescents. A variety of discussions and activities focused on sexism and the young LGBT community.
During these sessions, the impact of homophobia and feminized sexuality was discussed, creating tensions for several of the boys present. I therefore examined the effects of their feelings of de-masculinization, and their efforts to reclaim their idea of manhood.
Gay men ‘doing’ sexism, perpetuating socially reproduced masculinities has been considered (e.g. Stoltenberg, 1989, 2000), but not the gay youth and the reasons why he engages. Much hostility toward women and resentment of being associated with the feminine was present in the sessions. Becoming interested in this phenomenon due to the intensity of their attitude, I engaged with these young men. It became clear it was not in of itself an issue of identity politics and attempts to engage with hegemonic masculinities, as additional power imbalances were revealed.
These young men’s hostility toward women seemed to be more of an expression of frustration rather than a form of male privilege alone. It was not only the feminization of their sexuality which conflicted with their own masculinities, but compromises with their partners whose own efforts of reconciling with heteronormativity played an important role. As both boys sought their own space in what they felt masculinity is and should look like, one’s perceived weakness seemed to manifest a sense of strength in the other.
In an effort to gain social influence, these gay male youths expressed verbal sexist aggression because of their own frustrations over their de-masculinization. Their frustrations about heteronormatively defined masculinity as well as attempts to reconcile with what their own maleness should look like, including what it should look like in their relationships was revealed during group discussions. Their ostensible lack of acceptance from their school and social communities coupled with a feminized classification from their partners seemed to underpin their drive to regain individuality as young men strengthening their need to separate from, and weaken the women with whom they are compared.
These boys are angry; this is a look at why gay misogyny seems so aggressive in the early years. They tend to feel demonized and see themselves as victims, and are attempting to reconcile their place in the world.
The BEM Sex Role Inventory, retrieved from: http://garote.bdmonkeys.net/bsri.html Connell, R. W.; Messerschmidt, James W. (2005) Hegemonic masculinities, Rethinking the Concept, GENDER & SOCIETY, Vol. 19 No. 6, December 2005 829-859 DOI: 10.1177/0891243205278639 Retrieved from: http://gas.sagepub.com/content/19/6/829.full.pdf+html?hwshib2=authn%3A1422519053%3A20150128%253Adad77af4-ee2a-43e4-8ec2-12f82876b142%3A0%3A0%3A0%3AbDgn2rzglHBdxd%2FM4rJWaw%3D%3D Cooper, Cary L.; Hoel, Helge; Faragher, Brian (2004) Bullying is detrimental to health, but all bullying behaviours are not necessarily equally damaging, British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 32:3, 367-387, DOI: 10.1080/03069880410001723594 Retrieved from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/03069880410001723594 Davies, M (2004) Correlates of negative attitudes toward gay men: Sexism, male role norms, and male sexuality, The Journal of Sex Research 41:3, 259-266, DOI:10.1080/00224490409552233 (Published online 2012) Retrieved from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00224490409552233#.VMi4OnbsN8Y Pharr, S (1997) Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism, Chardon Press: Berkley, California, USA Stoltenberg J (1989, 2000) Refusing to be a Man: essays on sex and justice, Routledge: London and New York
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