Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Masculinity and Sexuality in High School

"In C.J. Pascoe's research with teenage boys she concluded that the word f@g does not relate to sexuality, but rather it is used as a form of discipline to encourage peers to perform masculinity in a very specific matter. She explores this idea in her book, Dude, You're a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School,"writes Renee at Womanist Musings.

Pascoe's controversial research and subsequent analysis created debate about the merits of her book with some of the readers over at the blog, Womanist Musings. Below are a few excerpts from the comments section. The author, C.J. Pascoe, discusses her book in an interview. Check out the video (with transcript) here. After reading the transcript of the interview join in the discussion. What do you think about her book?

Julianreal said:

I find her analysis, as presented in this video, anyway--and this is only a seven minute video, so I get that--to be stunningly superficial. This to me is like someone saying "d*ke" is used by girls not as a put down of girls with a socially degraded and despised sexual orientation, but "to police femininity"--as if lesbians don't exist and are not deeply shamed and self-esteem-injured by the term when it is used as an insult by non-lesbians. She's basically telling us--correct me if I've got this wrong--that because straight girls use the term "d*ke" to police each others' presentation of femininity, it DOESN'T exist primarily to target, stigmatise, and degrade lesbians for being lesbian.
This is like whites saying we use the n word to police or promote each other's whiteness without noting the goddamned history of the term as a white het male supremacist tool of derision, oppression, and terrorism against Black people.
Stephanie said:

Right the word f@g has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Like b*tch has nothing to do with women. I feel that this woman has no business writing about the material; her analysis is terrible. Why would anyone pay for this book?
Knightgee said:

To be gay is to be considered outside of normative masculinity/femininity because heterosexuality is seen as inseparable from being a "real man". To say it's about policing gender is true, but it's not removed from the component of sexuality. It's about policing sexuality too. The perceived failure to conform to normative sexuality and thus normative gender is why it's an insult, the stereotypes of effeminacy are essentially all built off of the assumption that gay men "receive", so they are women because only women receive and so they must act as women are seen as acting. Honestly, this is the kind of thing that the likes of Judith Butler have already thoroughly explored. So she isn't really adding anything new to the discussion from a purely theoretical and intellectual standpoint and is managing to do so with an inflammatory book title.
Sparky said:

This is so shallow it is unreal - and aside from the word use. ye gods did she get a prize for packing that word in as often as possible? Did she TRY to do it? Even in the title? I'm sure that's going to be great fun running into on the bookshelf when shopping – more reason to keep to net shopping :)

She does something that I have seen a lot in feminist circles - making homophobia all about sexism (not that there isn't sexism in homophobia to to make it ALL about sexism) in a way that tries to diminish and brush over homophobia entirely - as a lesser or irrelevant, something to toss aside as only part of the “real” fight against a “proper” oppression.