Houston, T.M. 2012. “The Homosocial Construction of Alternative Masculinities.”

Houston, Taylor Martin. 2012. “The Homosocial Construction of Alternative Masculinities: Men in Indie Rock Bands.” The Journal of Men’s Studies 20(2): 158-175.

“while the men upheld certain hegemonic gender norms inside and outside of the scene, within the subculture they report constructing alternative masculinities through homosocial interactions and gender strategies involving their bodies and performances” (158) – gender is contextual/fluid, homosocial relations can act as sites to challenge hegemonic masculinity, not just reinforce it.

Homosocial spaces identified as sites of “defining, maintaining, and redefining what it means to be a man” (158). Kimmel (2006) – men construct/measure manhood in relation to each other (note – brings for multiplicity of masculinities – not just that of HegMasc); Bird (1996)  defines homosocial relationships as “the social interactions, strategies, and desires maintained among men, where gender meanings are ‘socially shared’ and either ‘reinforced’ or ‘weakened’ (Bird 1996: 121) to uphold the power structure” (Houston quote 158, see also Bird).  Homosocial interactions as central to maintaining hegemonic masculinity in U.S. (Lipman-Bluman 1976; Sedgwick 1985). Identified behaviors as central to construction of homosocial relationships – giving advice to friends on maintaining bachelor status, sexist jokes, homophobia (Britton 1990; Flood 2008; Lyman 2008 1987).  Use of language (i.e., sports talk) to engage in these bonds – often prioritizing men’s relationships with each other through competitive (hetero)sexual behavior, storytelling — doing homosociality à doing masculinity, which embeds hegemonic ideals of masculinity within individual identity/practice, expectations of group interaction, and institutional practices/norms (Bemiller 2005; Bird 1996?; Kendall 2000; West and Zimmerman 1987).

While multiple masculinities “do reinforce hegemonic masculinity in many ways, they also allow men to be creative and socially active in ways regarded as feminine or un-masculine in the larger culture” (159) – men within some subcultures incorporate feminine traits into their enactment of masculinity, which server to challenge hegemonic masculine norms (see also Barber 2008; Hawkins 2009; Henson and Rogers 2001; Schippers 2000).

Feminization, though in flux, defined here: “expressing emotions such as caring, joy, sadness, anxiety, and fear; being openly affection with peers; maintaining stylized/fashion forward dress codes that accentuate the body; engaging in beautification practices like styling one’s hair and adorning the body with accessories; and performing activities that sexualize the body and draw the gaze of onlookers” (159) vs. masculinity: “strength, competition, violence, prestige, rationality, heterosexuality, sexualization of women, homophobia, and suppression of emotion (unless it is anger)” (159).

Connell and Messerschmidt (2005): “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 of a particular setting” (836 quoted here on 173) — author suggests that alternative masculinities may influence each other, encouraging a revision of existing hegemonic ideals.

Scholars of G+S focus on body as “vessel” to do gender/reinforce norms – Butler (2006) notes how “social ideals construct boundaries based on the binary sex norm that are used to maintain the ‘surface politics of the body’, rendering it a ‘passive medium’” (175, 185 respectively in Butler, quote from Houston 161) — when an individual’s gender performance does not ‘match’ with their sex, Butler (2006) notes that ‘dissonance’ occurs which signifies “a fluidity of identities that suggests an openness to resignification and recontextualization” (187, quoted here on 161) — deviance from expectation highlights performativity of gender, demonstrating opportunities for change.

Autonomy of indie rock allows men to resist mainstream norms of music industry AND masculinity – in sound, performance, (kx – identity, subject matter), promotion – indie’s emotionality, affect toward other men, feminine stylings of body/comportment/sound differentiates from mainstream and hegemonic masculinity by appealing to uniqueness, homosocial relations with other men. Cohen (1997) – participation within indie rock bands offered opportunities for men to create close, emotionally-expressive relationships with other men (deemed feminine by popular music/masculinity norms – but offers homosocial peer support for, and a ‘safe’, egalitarian site to undertake alternative gender performances, at times even rejecting hegemonic heterosexuality through showing affection through kissing and hugging – labeled by Schippers ‘intragender erotic play’ without encountering stigma or label of homosexual (see 148, quoted here on 171)); however, women were frequently excluded from scene membership and activity.  Similarly, work on straight-edge subculture notes its promotion of pro-feminist and progressive politics, but were notably hypermasculine in discourse and activity, and situated women at the peripheries of membership/activity, frequently ignored (Haenfler 2006).

Indie musician’s conflicting masculinities – some subordinated through sexualities, however influenced by masculinist discourses, relationality to other men’s socialization (parents, peers), and identification with masculine roles within their family structure – informing them on how men “should” act. No less, consciously defied expectations for hegemonic masculinity – despite at time labeling HM as “normal” manhood. Indie as a site of “gender maneuvering” (Schippers 2002) through over rejection of hypermasculinity – shunning and ridiculing such practices/people within the scene and identifying themselves in opposition to that, cultivating a bodily presentation and comportment that signifies their prioritization/enactment of this belief — using “the bodies as a way to disrupt gender/sexual norms” (167) – similar to Schippers’ female indie participants.

Bruzzi (1997): “clothes are not just clothes” but “how the social world ‘reads’ and contextualizes” (148, quoted here on 167) – here, contextualizing gender. Men within this study do not only feminize their dress for scene contexts and participation (as noted by Schippers as a stylistic maneuver within their performances), but dress in such was on and off stage in their everyday lives.  Schippers (2002) – individuals do gendered dress as a way of communicating style’s association with binary sex system; however, androgynous styles may also blur/disrupt gender (see also Bruzzi 1997; Butler 2006) – but, also communicate identification with, belonging in, and status within indie scenes.

“While the men that state that masculinity is not very important in the scene, the disproportionate number of men in all areas of the scene (fans, promoters, distributors, and musicians) should be recognized as a challenge to this claim.  If gender were not relevant, we should see an equal proportion of women and men in the scene with equal access to the most important positions” (167) – Men’s contradictory claims to hegemonic and alternative masculinities is paradoxical, but allows “men to uphold their male privilege within the larger culture, while resisting hegemonic masculinity in the indie rocks  scene” (172) — men’s feminized behaviors attributed to creativity and artistry – but women’s feminization/masculinization (similar gender play) is notably not offered to women, creating status/value differences, encouraging disparate participations and memberships of men and women.

“Thus, while they challenged hegemonic masculine norms, they seemed to do little to actively promote equality between women and men in the scene.  Yet, within the indie scene men are doing masculinity differently and providing an example of how homosocial relations do not always have to uphold hegemonic masculine behaviors.  Through these small acts, constructing a more positive version of hegemonic masculinity that is less hierarchical and more emotionally healthy, supportive, and accepting becomes a more reachable goal” (171).


Barber, Kristen. 2008. “The Well-Coifed Man: Class, Race, and Heterosexual Masculinity in the Hair Salon.” Gender and Society 22(4): 455-476.

Bemiller, Michelle. 2005. “Men Who Cheer.” Sociological Focus 38(3): 205-222.

Bird, Sharon. 1996. “Welcome to the Men’s Club: Homosociality and the Maintenance of Hegemonic Masculinity.” Gender & Society 10(2): 120-132.

Britton, Dana M. 1990. “Homophobia and Homosociality: An Analysis of Boundary Maintenance.” The Sociological Quarterly 31(3): 423-439.

Bruzzi, Stella. 1997. Undressing Cinema: Clothing and Identity in the Movies. London: Routledge.

Butler, Judith. ORIGINAL YEAR/2006. Gender Trouble. New York: Routledge.

Cohen, Sarah. 1997. “Men Making a Scene: Rock Music and the Production of Gender.” Pp. 17-36 in Sexing the Groove: Popular Music and Gender, edited by Sheila Whiteley. New York: Routledge.

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

Flood, Michael. 2008. “Men, Sex, and Homosociality: How Bonds between Men Shape Their Sexual Relations with Women.” Men and Masculinities 10(3): 339-359

Haenfler, Ross. 2006. Straight Edge: Clean-Living Youth, Hardcore Punk, and Social Change.  New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Hawkins, Stan. 2009. The British Pop Dandy: Masculinity, Popular Music and Culture. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Henson, Kevin D. and Jackie Krasas Rogers. 2001. “’Why Marcia You’ve Changed!’ Male Clerical Temporary Workers Doing Masculinity in a Feminized Occupation.” Gender and Society 15(2): 218-238.

Kendall, Lori. 2000. “’Oh No! I’m a Nerd!’ Hegemonic Masculinity on an Online Forum.” Gender and Society 14(2): 256-274.

Kimmel, Michael. 2006. Manhood in America: A Cultural History. New York: Oxford University Press.

Lipman-Bluman 1976;

Lyman 2008 1987. “The Fraternal Bond as a Joking Relationship: A Case Study in the Role of Sexist Jokes in Male Group Bonding.” Pp. 148-164 in Changing Men: New Directions in Research on Men and Masculinity, edited by Michael S. Kimmel.  Newbury Park: Sage.

Shippers, Mimi. 2000. “The Social Organization of Sexuality and Gender in Alternative Hard Rock: An Analysis of Intersectionality.” Gender & Society 14(6): 747-764.

Schippers, Mimi. 2002. Rockin’ Out of the Box: Gender Maneuvering in Alternative Hard Rock. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Sedgwick 1985 : NO CITE

West and Zimmerman 1987 – OMG, COME ON.


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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: