Dude, Youre a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School

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  1. Social Forces
  2. Dude, You're a Fag
  3. Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School - C. J. Pascoe - Google книги
  4. 'Dude, You're a Fag'

Social Forces

Was the faucet broken when it leaked? Pascoe has contributed a highly readable and extremely insightful book that will be required reading for students and scholars of youth and the construction of sex and gender in schools. Messner, author of Taking the Field: Women, Men and Sports "This is a strikingly original study of schoolboys renegotiating class, gender, and ethnicity, along with the labeling as 'fag'.

Here homophobia is at work in a path breaking study, which is also a highly readable must-read. Pascoe's careful and compassionate ethnography, we haven't known exactly how gender conformity is extracted from a slurry of humiliations, fears, and anxieties. Boys will not be boys unless they are made to be, by violence, real or implied.

Dude, You're a Fag

A troubling, thoughtful work. With fresh insight and careful observation, Pascoe sheds new light on the complex interplay of masculinity, homophobia, sexuality, and the body, compelling us to rethink the formation of gender identities, collective gender practices, and the reproduction of gender inequalities.

Pascoe highlights the sexualized dynamics of youthful masculinity. With vivid detail and perceptive analysis, she examines the 'fag talk' which pervades boys' conversations; the convergence of gender, sexual, and racialized practices in school rituals like the 'Mr. Cougar' contest; and the experiences of girls who display themselves as masculine.

Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School - C. J. Pascoe - Google книги

Boys participated in a fag discourse to ensure that others saw them as masculine by renouncing any fag-like behavior or same-sex desire. They did this by imitating fags and calling other boys fags. Boys imitated fags by lisping, mincing and pretending to sexually desire men, drawing laughs from male audiences who howled at these imitations. They frantically lobbed the fag epithet at one another, in a sort of compulsive name calling ritual.

In the context of River High the pseudonym of the school where I conducted this research being called a fag had as much to do with failing at tasks of masculinity as it did with sexual desire. More often than not these fag-like behaviors were those associated with femininity. Exhibiting stupidity, emotions, or incompetence, caring too much about clothing, touching another guy, or dancing were all things which could render a boy vulnerable to the fag epithet.

In this sense what I call a fag discourse is not just about homophobia, it is about a particularly gendered homophobia as these renouncements of the fag are as much about repudiating femininity as they are about denying same-sex desire. After listening to my tales about adolescent masculinity at River High people often ask me if this is a phase peculiar to high school, one that boys leave behind as they enter young adulthood and college. While the intensity of the fag discourse may decline with age, observations of and discussions with college students indicate that the gendered rituals central to adolescent masculinity do not disappear as youth leave high school and move to college.

While college classrooms are often constructed as non-homophobic and gender equitable spaces and while many colleges have anti-bias policies that cover gay people, students enter the classroom having been steeped in the fag discourse during their former school experiences.

Additionally, some college students spend some of their non-class time after all, courses are only a part of the college experience engaging in masculinity rituals reminiscent of those I saw at River High. Two years ago a student reminded me about the way in which the fag discourse might color students' understandings of what they learn in college classrooms.


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During my senior seminar entitled "Masculinities," Bradley, a former Marine and football player, continually sat back of the classroom arms folded defiantly, sneering at students' attempts at sociological analyses of inequality. As a result, I found my self surprised when he visited my office hours.


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  • Table of Contents: Dude, you're a fag :?
  • One day she got so fed up she dragged me outside and shoved Barbies in all my pockets and made me stand there while my friends laughed at me. Bradley, in this instance, serves as a classic example of the legacy of the fag discourse, the way in which some young men might come to class shaped by negative memories of gendered norms.

    Dude, You're a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School

    Like some other young men in my classes, Bradley learned early in life to renounce femininity and stereotypically feminine interests or suffer ridicule. These sorts of classroom experiences to which faculty are privy are only a small part of the college experience for many students.

    Students play sports, go to parties, organize clubs and pledge fraternities and sororities. In my book I note that the fag discourse runs particularly rampant in primarily male spaces.

    In auto-shop or the weight-room at River High, boys constantly insinuated that other boys were having sex with one another, that the friend sitting next to them on a weight bench was a fag or that their buddy across the room "loves the cock. Fraternity members have told me that their pledging rituals are filled with references to femininity and faggots.

    In these stories fraternity brothers humiliate pledges by teasing them for being feminine or gay. One fraternity member showed me a picture of his fraternity's relatively mild hazing rituals in which four pledges stood against the kitchen wall. Each boy's face sported lipstick, blush and eye shadow. One pledge's hair stuck out from his head in pony tails and another in braids. Other fraternity brothers reported to me that they had to describe themselves as "cum coveting," "cock craving" "faggot magnets," while fraternity brothers laughed at them.

    'Dude, You're a Fag'

    A look at other fraternities indicates that the rituals described to me by these fraternity members were not isolated ones. Last year, for instance, at the University of Vermont fraternity members were accused of forcing pledges to wear cowboy gear while listening to homophobic insults, an activity seemingly inspired by the movie Brokeback Mountain. Not long ago a fraternity member at the University of Texas was found dead after a night of partying, with homophobic epithets such as "fag" scrawled across his torso and legs.

    Sometimes fraternities do hold their members accountable for engaging in this type of gendered homophobia. It seems that the fag discourse, while particularly pervasive in the social pressure cooker that is high school, doesn't disappear once young men reach college. While my book documents the sort of gendered homophobic teasing that constitutes masculinity in adolescence, a similar sort of fag discourse is far from absent in a college setting. As with the 10 year-old boys at River High, college men are still watching out for the faggot who might get them, whether that faggot is part of their memory as with Bradley and his Barbies or a part of their social worlds in which they label each other fags as part of fraternity rituals.

    The official line of most universities, espoused by administrators, teaching assistants, and faculty members, is that the learning process should be non-homophobic and gender equitable. But, faculty, administrators and teaching assistants would do well to remember that the academic portion of college is only a small part of the student experience.

    Indeed, the world students inhabit and construct outside the walls of our classrooms and offices is a different one than the sheltered worlds within it. Be the first to know.