Kane, E.W. 2006. “‘No Way My Boys Are Going to Be Like That!’: Parents’ Responses to Children’s Gender Nonconformity.”

Kane, Emily W. 2006. “’No Way My Boys Are Going to Be Like That!’: Parents’ Responses to Children’s Gender Nonconformity.” Gender & Society 20(2): 149-176.

Children as active members in their own socialization process as young as before age two. Balancing act of parents to expand normative conceptions of gender, but also to reinforce hegemonic masculinity enactions – even across, race, gender, class, sexual orientation, and partnership status. Heterosexual fathers as central, personal endorsement of HM; heterosexual mothers and gay parents promote HM as accountability to others. Fathers seem to promote differential treatment between sons and daughters; boundary maintanence of gender is more prevalent in boys – performed by both mothers and fathers (Antill 1987; Coltrane and Adams 1997; Maccoby 1998).

*** Use this article to help frame early Beers work about homeschool/gender soc/WS

Comes to West and Zimmerman’s (1987): “Accountability is relevant not only when people are doing gender in accordance with the expectations of others but also when they resist or stray from such expectations. This claim, present in West and Zimmerman’s (1987) earlier formulation, is one to which Fenstermaker and West (2002) return in defending the approach against criticism that it does not allow for resistance and social change. They note that their focus on the process by which gender is accomplished places activity, agency, and the possibility of resistance in the foreground. But the accomplishment of such change takes place within the context of, and is constrained by, accountability to gendered assessment. Fenstermaker and West (2002, 212) have recently argued that accountability is “the most neglected aspect of our formulation. . . . Few of those who have used our approach have recognized the essential contribution that accountability makes to it.” (here 152)


Reinforces idea of normative conceptions as historically and locally variable – approximations of gender conduct. ““In the accomplishment of difference [including gender], accountability is the driving motivator; the specifics of the normative order provide the content, with social interaction the medium” (Fenstermaker and West 2002, 213-14)” (here 152)


Hegemonic masculinity as a normative conception of gender – form to which men are accountable, and where subordinated masculinities and femininities are defined. “Connell (1987, 187) argues that there is no need for a concept of hegemonic femininity, because the fundamental purpose of hegemonic masculinity is to legitimate male domination. The subordination of nonhegemonic masculinities is crucial as well, as it allows hegemonic masculinity to legitimate not only male privilege but also race, class, and sexual orientation–based privileges as well” (here 153).


Masculinity does not exist except in contrast with femininity (Connell 1995, 68); historical constructions of manhood focus on anti-femininity “[…] masculinity is defined more by what one is not rather than one who is.” (Kimmel 1994, 119* update). Homophobia (according to Kimmel and Connell) are central to masculinity – “the most important feature of contemporary hegemonic masculinity is that it is heterosexual …. Contempt for homosexuality and homosexual men… is part of the ideological package of hegemonic masculinity” (Connell 1987, 186).


STATE YOUR LIMITATIONS LIKE THIS: “Scholars of gender have clearly documented the inseparability of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation, and I endeavor to consider each within the context of my interview data. But it is also important to note that the size of my interview sample limits my ability to fully consider those intersections. While some variations by race and class are evident within the broader interview project from which this particular analysis is drawn, such variations are generally absent in terms of parental responses to gender nonconformity” (156)


Girls were promoted to have gender typical, but also celebrated when gender-atypical; few consequences to additions of “masculine” characteristics. Wide support to ‘undo’ gender in sons, however limited to empathy, caretaking, and housework – interest in feminine items, attributes or activities were concerns of homosexuality. Gender nonconformity sparked fear of homosexuality not in girls, only boys – particularly by fathers’ policing. Heterosexual fathers view personal investment, or emotional attachment to gender conformity – risking their own accomplishment of masculinity (through fatherhood). Heterosexual mothers, lesbian mothers, and gay fathers did not demonstrate similar personal investment, but fear of how their son would be assessed by others for their gender nonconformity – negative treatment by adults/peers. However, only heterosexual parents raised concerns about sons’ sexual orientations.



Antill, John K. 1987. Parents’ beliefs and values about sex roles, sex differences, and sexuality. Review of Personality and Social Psychology 7:294-328.

Coltrane, Scott, and Michele Adams. 1997. Children and gender. In Contemporary parenting, edited by Terry Arendell. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Connell, R.W. 1987. Gender and power. Stanford, CA: Stanford University

Connell, R.W.1995. Masculinities. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Fenstermaker, Sarah, and Candace West, eds. 2002. Doing gender, doing difference. New York: Routledge

Kimmel, Michael S. 1994. Masculinity as homophobia. In Theorizing masculinities, edited by Harry Brod. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Maccoby, Eleanor E. 1998. The two sexes: Growing up apart, coming together. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

West, Candace, and Don Zimmerman. 1987. Doing gender. Gender & Society 1:124-51.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: