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To Be or Not to Be?: Some thoughts on and research experiences of experience, bodies and masculinity
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Education, Department of Education.
2006 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

By taking my point of departure in feminist post structuralism and inspired by the line To be or not to be? in Shakespeares play Hamlet, I will deconstruct and discuss the concept of masculinity, male experiences and the constructions of borders for the male body from three aspects. In the first section called Hamlet, I focus on the position man and discuss how the Sex role discourse and the modernity discourse of an autonomous subject construct an identity position experienced as being myself. Using examples from my research projects I intend to exemplify how this position constructs men, masculinity and experiences of masculinity and unmanliness in certain ways. Masculinity is in this position constructed either as something natural or as something inauthentic, problematic and as a concept possible to distance oneself from. In both understandings masculinity is connected to certain men and groups of men and understood as certain characteristics, practices, bodies, aesthetic appearances and styles. Hereby masculinity, the male body and its border tend to be defined, materialised and experienced in a restricted and narrow way. The discussion in this part is grounded in material and results from my recent research projects directed at men in female occupation, men and fashion, family orientated men in Sweden and a project in progress on boys and constructions of masculinity in school. In the second section, The Ghost, I will discuss how on the one hand metaphors from theatre and on the other hand a narrow and stereotypical masculinity concept haunts gender researchers in the same way that the ghost is haunting, whispering and giving clues to Hamlet in the play. In this section I will problematise Connells (1987,1995) understanding of hegemony and highlight how the concept of Hegemonic Masculinity, although it is presented as a better concept than the Sex role theory, still in some ways are repeating that concept and thereby suffer from some problems inherent in the sex role theory. I will also shortly highlight how the gender concept and theatre metaphors included in the sex role theory also haunt Butlers (1990, 1993) more fluid concept of masculinity and femininity and her discussion of gender as a performative performance. Criticism is also directed at the underlying presumptions in Steven M. Whiteheads (2002) elaboration of Butlers concept. What kind of bodies, characteristics, practices and aesthetics are researchers experience, describe and reproduce as masculine and feminine? How are researchers experiences formed and restricted by theatre metaphors and the narrow and normalised masculinity concept in the sex role theory? What kind of male experiences can be experience, named and described as masculinity? In the last section called Ophelia I briefly discuss some obstacles, problems and possibilities connected to my body and my position as a female researcher studying men and constructions of masculinity and femininity. In this section I also shortly discuss my experiences of male collegians, masculinity and femininity constructions and of the normalised male body in the field of Critical Studies on Men and Masculinities. In the presentation at the conference I intend to use quotations from interviews as well as sounds and pictures as examples and illustrations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2006.
Keywords [en]
Masculinity, role-theory, hegemonic masculinity, heteronorms, post structuralism, Connell, Butler
National Category
Gender Studies
Research subject
Gender Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-24940OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-24940DiVA, id: diva2:598712
Note

Distrubution: Som fil per email: Marie.Nordberg@kau.se

Available from: 2013-01-22 Created: 2013-01-22 Last updated: 2013-01-22

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Citation style
  • apa
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  • Other locale
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Output format
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