Connell, R.W. and J. Messerschmidt. 2005. “Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept.”

Connell, R.W. and James W. Messerschmidt. 2005. “Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept.” Gender and Society 19 (6): 829-859.

Hegemony taken from the Gramscian term of how class relations stabilized, but cannot be reduced to a matter of cultural control and de/mobilization of gender members (like classes). Gay liberation as a means to see observe a “hierarchy” of masculinities through violence and prejudice against gay men offered by straight men. Gender hierarchy research performed in 70’s, 80’s in resistance to sex roles, provided ethnographic empiricism SRT lacked. Influence of psychoanalysis – men’s power, gender development, and contradictions within boy’s gender developments that “led” to transsexualism.
HM as a practice, not as a set of expectations or identity. Non-normative, statistically. “It embodied the currently most honored way of being a man, it required all other men to position themselves in relation to it, and it ideologically legitimated the global subordination of women to men” (832). Applications from this definition in education, criminology, media studies. Research documents consequences of HM (individual and group), mechanism by which HM worked, diversity in types of masculinities, and mapping changes in HM

Critiques of HM
1) Concept of masculinity is essentialized, heteronormified, focuses on dichotomization of sex versus gender, reduces or emphasizes the body too much; authors point to female bodied enactions of masculinities, complex identities expressed through ethnographies. “Masculinity is not a fixed entity embedded in the body or personality traits of individuals. Masculinities are configurations of practice that are accomplished in social action and, therefore, can differ according to the gender relations in a particular social setting” (836). Heterosexuality and its critique as a formant of masculinity has been ever-present in the development of HM.
2) Those that do hold great social power often do not embody an ideal masculinity; theory is sometimes applied as fixed OR fluid – what does HM look like in practice? “They provide models of relations with women and solutions to problems of gender relations. Furthermore, they articulate loosely with the practical constitution of masculinities as ways of living in everyday local circumstance. To the extent they do this, they contribute to hegemony in the society-wide gender order as a whole” (838). Can be specified in formal organizations, or large institutions.
3) Reification of negative traits, negative power – theory is built from direct experience of women rather than structural basis of women’s subordination – must distinguish between patriarchy (long-term structure based on subordination of women) and gender (specific system of exchange that arose in light of modern capitalism) – HM must factor in institutionalization of inequality, cultural constructions, interplays of intersections
4) Concept minimizes the individual, emphasizes the structure behind the norms, does not specify the process of oppression – yet, the interactional nature of the theory looks to demonstrate the multiplicity of masculinities, how individuals utilize these interactions to privilege selves. “Masculinity is defined as a configuration of practice organized in relation to the structure of gender relations. Human social practice creates gender relations in history. The concept of hegemonic masculinity embeds a historically dynamic view of gender in which it is impossible to erase the subject” (843)
5) Self-producing process – C&M say no, that it is derived from a historical set of relations, and are maintained through micropolitical processes

Revisits idea of hegemonic masculinity in light of criticism, use across academic fields, and through the expansion of studies on men and masculinities. Re-asserts that masculinity used here is not essentialist or reified, but acknowledges criticisms on trait models of gender and rigid typologies. Incorporates new psychological models (with limit) – “The concept of hegemonic masculinity does not equate to a model of social reproduction; we need to recognize social struggles in which subordinated masculinities influence dominant forms” (829). Further research suggested in modeling gender hierarchy (through survival of nonhegemonic masculinities; girls’ adoption of masculinities), agency of women within this model, recognition of wide array of masculinities, interplay between local/regional/global levels (how does hegemonic come to embody a global Northern ideal, where “protest” masculinities are often of the global South? – regional HM as influence not dictate to global HM), embodiment’s role in power (“Bodies participate in social action by delineating courses of social conduct?the body is a participant in generating social practice” -851), and the internal contradictions of the concept of HM (- having HM traits does not always translate into a successful or satisfying life). “Cultural consent, discursive centrality, institutionalization, and the marginalization or delegitimation of alternatives are widely documented features of socially dominant masculinities” (846). Singular form of dominance, or pattern of dominance is not universal. HM is not a simple collection of traits or a fixed character.
“Gender is always relational, and patterns of masculinity are socially defined in contradistinction from some model (whether real or imaginary) of femininity” (848).


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