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Distinct Hegemonic Masculinity Behaviors Between Heterosexual and Gay Men
This paper examines two published journal articles that describe research completed on masculinity between heterosexual men and gay men. The study by Kris Gebhard, Lauren Cattaneo, June Tangney, Stephanie Hargrove, and Rachel Shor, which focused on heterosexual men masculinities, used surveys to conduct their investigation with undergraduate students in a psychology course at a large mid-Atlantic university (male: n=86; female: n=181).
The study by James Ravenhill and Richard O. de Visser, which focused on gay men masculinity conducted face to face and Skype interviews with six young gay men, ranging in age from 20-24 years of age, and eleven older gay men who ranged in age from 30-42 years old. These subjects were from England and Wales.
Although both articles examine the masculinity struggles in men, the research varies between heterosexual men shame and threatened-masculinity, and gay men either not demonstrating enough masculinity or too much hegemonic masculinity. The study administered by Kris et al. suggests that men who suffer from threatened masculinity experience shame and guilt, which tends to bring on physically aggressive behavior. Ravenell and de Visser suggest older men prefer to demonstrate more masculinity than younger gay men because of cultural shifts that have accepted the gay community in today’s society.
Both articles conduct interesting studies on hegemonic masculinity from different perspectives. Some of the findings of masculinity were similar between heterosexual and gay men. According to both studies, hegemonic masculinity can explain the hostility some gay, and heterosexual men show toward other gay men who subvert normative masculinity. In the survey that only tested heterosexual men, it showed, challenged masculinity, usually through gender discrepancies, causes low self-esteem, anxiety, and shame. They have reduced confidence, which increases aggression and most times, lead to violence within men. The study shows that externalization of blame is a possible response to shame, which is relevant to attack. Instead of becoming angry and hostile from their flaws, they revert their anger toward other individuals, such as the opposite sex, other heterosexual men, or gay men.
The next study that interviewed young and older gay men, research revealed that older gay men are more prone to act more masculine than young gay men. In today’s society, the acceptance of the LGBTQ community around the world has increased since the 1980s, according to the UCLA School of Law. Older men regardless of their sexuality, still had to illustrate hegemonic masculinity behaviors in the case of threatening harm caused by heterosexual hegemonic masculine men who may deal with threatened masculinity, shame related issues. Also, most older gay men are not acceptable to gay men who portray to be more feminine than masculine. They believe that their sexuality should not depict who they indeed are as a person, but more importantly, as a man.
The research done by Ravenhill and de Visser with the older and younger gay men makes the most substantial impact on the topic and population because their method of conducting face to face interviews in person or via Skype provides an accurate and in-depth reaction to how both parties deal with hegemonic masculinity. In addition to the direct contact with the subjects, there was diversity in ethnicity when referencing the demographics of the participants. Also, the subjects varied in age, relationship status, and their level of education. The procedure was not as intense as the alternative study done by Kris et al. There were only four direct questions addressing masculinity and their experiences as a gay man, which were divided into two sections to answer the research questions, (a) masculinity in opposition to “gayness” and (b) alternative interpretations of masculinity.
Many young gay men, although not trying to camouflage their sexuality with hegemonic masculinity, most of them are perceived as masculine by others, because they act and look less feminine. They monitor their masculinity by their lack of interests in sports or aggressiveness.
Older gay men prefer not to be perceived as the stereotypical gay man. They believe it others see them as gay; they automatically revert to drag queens, transgender, and soft. When older gay men are in the presence of others, it is vital that they are seen as masculine. They can flip from hanging out with their gay peers to engaging in sports and manly conversations among other hegemonic heterosexual men.
Despite young gay men not feeling more masculine than older gay men, they believe it is still essential to illustrate masculinity in public. Demonstrating feminine characteristics outside of a social setting can be perceived as unprofessional and can lead to danger if heterosexual men feel threatened by their actions. Like the older gay subject, some of the young gay men believe there are times and places for “gayness.”
Suggestions for Future Research
For future research in this area, I would incorporate more women in this study of masculinity. I would ask women how do they determine masculinity, and do they men are the only gender that depicts masculinity? Also, I will want to know if they identify as masculine, how do men challenge their masculinity? In my research, my demographics will be multi-racial, vary in age from <20 and >30, and sexuality.
- Gebhard, K. T., Cattaneo, L. B., Tangney, J. P., Hargrove, S., & Shor, R. (2019). Threatened-Masculinity Shame-Related Responses Among Straight Men: Measurement and Relationship to Aggression. Psychology of Men & Masculinities, 429-444.
- Ravenhill, J. P., & Visser, R. O. (2019). “I Don’t Want to Be Seen as a Screaming Queen”: An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis of Gay Men’s Masculine Identities. Psychology of Men and Masculinities, 324-336.
- Sanders, J. F. (2019, July 15). UCLA Law. Retrieved from Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy: https://law.ucla.edu/centers/social-policy/williams-institute-on-sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity-law-and-public-policy/about/
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