Orthodox Masculinity

Whilst researching into notions of gender and sexual orientation within sports, I came across this paper titled “Establishing and Challenging Masculinity: The Influence of Gendered Discourses in Organized Sport”.

The paper discusses the discourse of masculinity within organised sport, including an experiment observing the behaviours of a British football team during a match and interactions within the changing rooms.

The paper explains how sport has been used to promote male dominance over women. Sport has given men a way of demonstrating strength and violence. As a result the competitive nature of sport can be used to justify social dominance.

“But sport could only work in this capacity if women (formally) and gay men (culturally) were excluded from participation. If women and gay men also bashed their bodies and thumped their chests, men would be less equipped to lay claim to patriarchal and heterosexual privilege (Bryson, 1987)”.

The version of masculinity most typically esteemed within sporting cultures is ‘orthodox masculinity’. The “principle conditions are that one be heterosexual and hyper-masculine. This combination is so strong that heterosexuality and masculinity are deemed synonymous; cultural conflation that Progner (1990) calls heteromasculinity”. Also within this theory of masculinity it is believed that men try to raise their masculine status by distancing themselves from any forms of femininity. One way of achieving this is by expressing homophobic views in order to disassociate oneself from homosexuality (comments such as “that’s gay” & “Don’t be a poof”).

The authors of this paper decided to observe a football team (rather than any other sport) because “messner (2002) suggests that sports, such as football, serve at the center of masculine production for all boys and men in western society”. What they discovered was that several incidents presented themselves when homophobia was used to heighten their own masculine status. For example when one of the football players made a comment to another team mate saying “What are you a poof?” the player responded with acts of aggression, such as punching a wall. Several other homophobic comments were observed during half time of one of their matches, such as “Don’t be a fucking poof!” and “Bend them over and fuckin rape them!”.

From reading this paper it is suggested that orthodox masculinity appears to exist within football. Which means that heteromasculinty is also present; as a result this could discourage gay men from participating in the sport. If we go back to a point that stonewall mentioned in their report that, the participation of gay men could be increased if their were a stronger presence of role models within the sport, then this rigid notion of masculinity could potentially be challenged by an increase of gay football players.



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