Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ethel Spector Person - Masculinities, Plural

This is a good introductory article to the idea of multiple masculinities - and for now, all Sage Journals articles are free until October 15 or so with a simple registration. It's a Freudian approach, I mean literally, but it's useful in its own way.

Person, E.S. (2006, Dec) Masculinities, plural.
Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Society; Vol. 54 no. 4, 1165-1186. doi: 10.1177/00030651060540041501


Masculinity cannot be regarded as a single entity. Both within Western culture and across cultures, a wide variety of masculinities are easily observable. Yet masculinity is so often contrasted with femininity that the many differences among men are at times obscured. To in part correct this deficiency, various “psychologies” of men are explored, as well as the cultural components that shape a society's ideas of what constitutes masculinity. Male heterosexuality and homosexuality are also examined, as are a number of the fantasies and fears that men typically experience. What cannot be left out of any exploration of male psychology are those sources of strength that permit so many men to fiercely protect their families and, when called upon, to fight their country's wars. Nonetheless, the differences between individual men are significant and can even be said to be vast.

This article is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, she is very Freudian in her approach to gender studies and masculinity in particular. The Freudians tend to be among the most aware in terms of masculinities as opposed to a monlithic masculinity. That's cool.

The other interesting element is that she is seemingly pretty well-versed in contemporary science of gender - which makes phrases like "Oedipal phase" stand out as anachronisms of a long-ago discarded gender theory. Everything about Freud's model is wrong, so it surprises me every time I see on them (and there a lot in gender theory) using the old model.

Anyway, here is a passage that demonstrates what I am talking about:
While both biology and acculturation impact on core gender and gender identity, there is another factor, attached to self-identification. In 1955 John Money and his associates (Money, Hampson, and Hampson 1955) published a study that established gender as distinct from sexuality. They demonstrated that the first and crucial step in gender differentiation was self-designation by the child as female or male in accordance with the sex of assignment and rearing. Designated as either male or female at birth, most of the children they studied came to selfidentify as such in the first few years of life, and to internalize behaviors consistent with their designated sex. There were, however, exceptions. A few individuals who had been reassigned because of abnormalities of their genitals reverted to their biological sex. Self definitions encompass both core gender identity and gender role identity. Core gender identity refers to one’s self-identification as male or female. However, gender role identity refers to a self-identity that comprises behaviors and preferences referable to masculinity or femininity.

Gender role identity is believed to be shaped to a significant degree by gender identification with the same-sex parent, but this cannot be the whole story. A male raised solely by his mother may grow up with a strong sense of masculinity. Thus, both same-sex identifications and complementary identifications can be key in the formation of gender identity. In essence, a boy raised solely by his mother may acquire masculine characteristics through a complementary relationship to his mother. Moreover, he may identify with men other than his father. Similarly, a woman raised solely by her father may be entirely feminine. To put it simply, core gender identity depends primarily (though not exclusively) on one’s self-identification as male or female.

Considerable evidence exists to support the idea that boys’ doubts about their masculinity may first surface during the oedipal period, the result of the dual threats of castration anxiety and of a sense of genital inferiority in comparison with their fathers. Beginning in adolescence and extending into adulthood, the male is constantly evaluating, critiquing, and enjoying his sense of maleness, the size of his penis, and his sexual longings and behavior. He is also comparing himself to his peers. Anxiety over performance and prowess is as basic to male sexuality as its reputed aggressive content, and it may well be the lingering result of feelings of the weakness and fear of inadequacy inevitably experienced in earliest life.
Despite these issue on my part, it's an interesting article, so check it out while it's free.

1 comment:

online generic viagra said...

The gender bias will remain as it has been for the years. nice post to read. The needs of both the sexes should be looked upon.