Blog #1 Socy 391- Abbey Ritter

I read the preface of “Dude You’re a Fag,” to better understand the background of the research prior to the completion of this book by C.J. Pascoe. The author, Pascoe, began her research at River High at a time when technology wasn’t rapidly present. She mentions in the preface that at the time very few youth with whom he had spoken to had even had email accounts, let alone Facebook, MySpace, and Youtube. She finished his research in 2003 and didn’t complete his book until 2011. She describes this large jump as “nothing short of a digital revolution.” She began his research in an attempt to study interactions among youth and the gendered and sexualized policing of masculinity in online environments.

The author’s fieldwork was conducted at a suburban high school that she calls River High, although the name has been changed for research purposes. The residents making up the town around River high are predominantly white (over half) and about a quarter Latino or hispanic, with the rest being African American or Asian. She spent a year and a half conducting field work and formally interviewed fifty students. She tape recorded each interview and they usually lasted between forty five minutes to an hour and a half. She focused her field work on highly important gender moments such as school dances, plays, lunches, and school rallies. She also used three gender neutral sites which included a senior government classroom, drama class and the gay straight alliance, and auto shop and weight lifting. She took daily field notes focusing on students, faculties, and administrators.

Chapter 1 starts off by talking about a skit that was done at the school he was observing, known as River High. The main actors of the skit were Brent and Craig who began the skit as nerds. There were also two girls in the skit who were meant to be the nerds’ girlfriends as well as some “gangstas” who “kidnap” the girlfriends. By the end of the skit the two main actors, Brent and Craig, find some strength by revealing their muscles and changing out of their nerd clothes. The skit ends with the crowd applauding as the victorious nerds walk off stage with their rescued girlfriends. The author explains how he opens the book with this scene in order to portray the themes of masculinity he saw during his observations at River High. This masculinization process happens through a transformation of bodies, the assertion of racial privilege, and a shoring up of heterosexuality. The assembly where this skit occurred is known as the “Mr. Cougar,” assembly and it draws on the phenomena at River High which the author attempts to explain. This phenomena includes how teenagers, teachers, and the institutional logics of schooling construct adolescent masculinity through idioms of sexuality (Pascoe p. 4). In order to better examine the heteronormative and homopohic discourses, practices, and interactions in American high schools, Pascoe focuses on gender and sexuality practices with an emphasis on school rituals, specifically at River High.

She describes how his findings suggest that masculinity is associated with the male body. Through adolescence masculinity is a form of dominance. This dominance includes by throwing homophobic words at one another and by engaging in heterosexist discussions of girls’ bodies and their own sexual experiences. Pascoe goes on to explain how this masculine phenomena is somewhat different between certain races. African Americans, for instance, were more likely to be punished by school authorities for engaging in masculinizing practices such as the ones listed above. In order to understand gender and sexuality practices at River high, Pascoe first takes us on a little journey through history in order to better understand how the term “masculinity” first came about. Talcott Parsons one of the first sociologists to really address masculinity described gender roles as being central to the functioning of a well-ordered society. This idea was constructed so that males were the breadwinners and females the caretakers and any deviation away from these gender roles meant weakening of families and our society as a whole. This makes me wonder how previous gender roles and beliefs have shaped the norms of our societies today.

While not only highlighting the ways that masculinity is produced and manifested in relation to bodies, spaces, and objects at River high, the author also highlights a person’s sexuality. Sexuality refers to sex acts and sexual identities as well as a range of meanings that vary by social class, gender, location, and gender identity. The book uses a theory known as “Queer theory,” to draw on a postmodern approach to studying society that moves beyond traditional categories such as male/female. Queer theory emphasizes multiple identities and multiplicity in general. This approach looks at masculinity as a recognized able configuration of gender practices and discourses. The author speaks about how we expect people to act based on their gender. This is known as “doing gender,” which means we expect men to act like men and females to act like females.

 

 

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