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- Our Ph.D. Students | Drew University
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- What is there to learn about violence and masculinity from a genderqueer man?
Although studies have focused on how dominant beliefs about masculinity and femininity are associated with high rates of violence [ 4 , 8 , 10 — 12 ], they have predominantly focused on cis-gendered persons whose social gender matches their biological sex men and women, neglecting other gender identities. There is an increasing body of work on gender-non-conforming people; however, much of this work focuses on transgender people who identify with, behave or appear like a sex other than that which they were assigned at birth [ 18 ].
There is also some research which suggests that those who identify as genderqueer may be at higher risk for violence than people who identify and pass as transgender [ 19 ]. The term genderqueer has been used to refer to individuals who see their gender as fluid or hybrid, or reject the binary between male and female [ 19 ]. This may be attributed to the perception that non-conventional expressions of gender, for example those which challenge a dichotomous order of gender, are regarded as particularly threatening to social relations [ 18 , 19 ]. However, the association between the risk of violence victimisation and gender identities is very complex and it is necessary to be cautious not to naturalise the threat potential to some identities over others.
As argued in this article, non-conventional gender identities have the potential to destabilise particular versions of masculinity, including violent masculinities. The promotion of gender equality or more egalitarian masculinities has been recognised as central to disrupting practices of violence [ 20 , 21 ]. Such disruption involves challenging and transforming dominating, aggressive and violent versions of masculinity. Our use of a case study is intended as an example of some of the possible links and contradictions between issues of gender and violence, rather than as a blueprint which constructs fixed relationships between these issues.
He lives in a middle-class suburb in Cape Town. While we acknowledge the problematic nature of these terms, we also feel it is necessary to acknowledge the reality of racialisation in South Africa — where constructions of race continue to hold social salience. Adam lives with his wife, his two daughters, of whom the younger is adopted, and another married couple with whom he and his wife are in a polyamorous relationship.
In South Africa, where most men spend 13 times less time than women taking care of children [ 23 ], Adam is an unusual man. However, it must be noted that even though Adam problematises the binary between male and female, he continues to position himself in relation to the category of male.
As Foucault has argued, attempts at resistance offer opportunities to investigate how power operates [ 24 ]. The article has two main aims. First, it aims to demonstrate the shifting relationship between constructions of violent and non-violent masculinity in the talk of a genderqueer man, as well as the differing subjectivities contained within these competing discursive constructions.
Secondly, by using a case study, it aims to show how qualitative approaches can have a decisive advantage in that they are able to reveal the complexity and contradiction of masculine identities, as these are negotiated within the context of the interview. Research which explores the ways in which violent men talk about violence is significant for two reasons.
Secondly, it reveals how men position themselves in relation to their use of violence and how they construct their subjectivities post-violence [ 26 ]. Thus, we are concerned with how power is organised at the level of the individual [ 27 ]. The case study of Adam emerges from a larger study which explored how gender is constructed by both parents and children within families [ 28 ]. In particular, the study investigated how particular constructions of gender promote or prevent gender equality within the context of the home.
The study received ethical clearance from the University of South Africa. The study included 18 families from a range of different cultural and material backgrounds in Cape Town. Families who were likely to identify with notions of gender equality were recruited by posting an advert on two social media pages which focus on feminist issues. Other families were recruited through religious and community-based organisations, as well as a snowball sampling technique. All the families that were recruited agreed to be interviewed.
Parents signed consent forms for themselves, as well as their children, and children signed assent forms. The interview questions covered a range of topics related to meanings and practices of gender within the family. Parents were asked the following questions: Tell me about how you raise your children; do you think there should be a difference in how boys and girls are raised? If applicable How do you and your partner differ in your approach to parenting?
Children were asked: What do you like about your family? Who is the boss in your family? Can you tell me about your parents? Do you think boys and girls should be treated differently? Do you think that you will have children someday? What type of parent would you like to be?
Following the interviews, participants were given the option of reading the interview transcript or listening to the interview recording. However, none of the participants requested to read or listen to the interviews.
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The analysis focuses on how Adam responded to questions about his gender identity and how he relates that to violence. Simultaneously, the extract also illustrates the dynamic interaction between interviewer and interviewee. This points to how qualitative approaches can have a decisive advantage in that they are able to reveal the complexity and contradiction of masculine identities. Interviewer: Ja? So the other day we had an altercation with a one of the guys […] walking our dog.
What if you know something goes wrong and you get badly hurt? Adam: Yes. Ja and and I think intrinsic in our culture is this um impression that men … must stand up for their rights and women must be careful about who could attack them … you know the sort of weak—weaker gender stereotype. Interviewer: Ja. If I found myself in a dangerous situation. The extract shows the complex ways in which Adam constructs his masculinity. Throughout the interview he grapples with contradictory notions as he reflects on his response to an altercation with another man.
In other words, the male point of view is socially learned.
What is there to learn about violence and masculinity from a genderqueer man?
Adam is thus drawing on constructions of aggression as a key component of masculinity. Therefore, Adam is wrestling with masculinity as inherently predetermined, automatically connected with men and therefore immoveable, while simultaneously constructing it as vacillating and adjustable.
This struggle has important implications for the way in which men are able to position themselves in relation to violent or non-violent masculinities. This construction is consistent with research that has shown that a key obstacle to transforming gender relations is an account of masculinity as fixed and biologically determined [ 33 ].
tiebocorobout.ml Therefore, this biological discourse of masculinity can be seen to produce and legitimate an aggressive and violent subjectivity. The discourse inhibits more emotionally vulnerable subjectivities and therefore could prevent men from engaging in alternative, non-violent ways of being [ 27 ]. However, Adam constructs male violence as shaped by cultural norms.
Therefore, rather than an uncontrollable instinct, violence is constructed as a choice.
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He positions himself as an individual within a broader cultural framework that influences gender relations. Therefore, while Adam constructs gender as socially constituted and therefore flexible, he also highlights the way in which the individual is acted upon by the culture system. In this way, the subjective possibility for resisting violence is created. This is supported by a study with men in South Africa which has shown that the construction of masculinity involves an ongoing negotiation of hegemonic norms and values [ 27 ].
Here, Adam is also highlighting the way in which a particular performance of masculinity affords him power and, to some extent, protection. Main article: Feminism international relations. Women's suffrage Muslim countries US. First Second Third Fourth. Variants general. Variants religious. By country. Lists and categories. Lists Articles Feminists by nationality Literature American feminist literature Feminist comic books. It has been suggested that this article be split into a new article titled Overview of Feminist Ethics Scholars.
Discuss November Google Scholar. Women and Social Movements in the United States, Alexander Street Press. Documenting the American South. Women and Economics. Berkeley: University of California Press, Journal of Religious Ethics. New York: Routledge, Unspeakable: A feminist ethic of speech. OtherWise Publications. International Feminist Journal of Politics : Taylor and Francis, Feminist theory. Feminism portal. Ecofeminism Feminist method Hegemonic masculinity Women's history Women's studies. Russell Dorothy E. Smith Marilyn Waring.