Sociology professor Tristan Bridges was interviewed earlier this summer as part of The Society Pages‘ Office Hours podcast:
Tristan is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at The College at Brockport, State University of New York. Tristan researches and blogs on issues related to gender, sexuality, inequality, and space at Inequality by (Interior) Design and Feminist Reflections, the newest Community Page at The Society Pages. We discuss Tristan’s recently published article “A Very ”Gay” Straight?: Hybrid Masculinities, Sexual Aesthetics, and the Changing Relationship between Masculinity and Homophobia,” that is part of his larger book project tentatively entitled “Othering Other Men: Transformations in Gender and Politics among Men.”
You can list to the podcast on the Office Hours website.
[By Pete Souza (White House Flickr Account) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]
A few weeks ago, President Obama announced a new initiative
designed to increase opportunities for young Black and Latino men. Acknowledging that Black and Latino men lag behind other groups in educational achievement and employment, while outnumbering white men in jails and prisons, at first glance, the President’s “My Brother’s Keeper
” campaign seems like a much needed and timely project. However, when examining Obama’s rhetoric more closely, the initiative falls short of addressing the root causes and structural reasons for racial disparities in the US and instead perpetuates a neoliberal language of individual responsibility.
By mariselise derivative work: Steffaville [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
The NBA has its first openly gay player in Jason Collins, and the NFL will follow soon, as former college player Michael Sam is expected to join a team this summer. This might indicate that we are seeing a radical shift in society’s stereotypes about gay men. At the same time, it remains to be seen, as Dave Zirin asks at The Nation
whether gay male athletes like Sam can help shift our definitions of masculinity more broadly or whether they might paradoxically reinforce gender norms and notions of hyper-masculinity at the same time.
In 2013, NBA player Jason Collins made headlines when he became the first active openly gay male* athlete in one of the major 4 men’s team sports in the US. A similar story made headlines this winter in Germany, when recently retired soccer player Thomas Hitzlsperger – who formerly played in the German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A and English Premier League as well as for the German national team – came out as gay in an interview with the newspaper Die Zeit
, becoming the first openly gay male soccer player in Germany. Similar to Collins, Hitzlsperger tied his outing to the political project of starting a discussion about homophobia and notions of masculinity in soccer. And paralleling Collins’ story, Hitzlsperger’s outing raises the question of whether we will witness a transformation of the gender politics in big-time German professional sports.
Several weeks ago, the editors of Masculinities 101, all graduate students at Stony Brook University, raised an eyebrow when we received a mass email from our university president, informing us that the director of the athletics department, Jim Fiore, was leaving his post and an interim director was taking his place. Within a few days, we became even more suspicious when a fellow graduate student sent around an article from the local newspaper, Newsday, stating that Fiore was not only leaving, but would be paid out his $800,000 contract. Later that week, no one was surprised when allegations of sexual harassment emerged as the primary reason for Fiore’s departure from Stony Brook University.
Stephen M. Jones at the Foxwoods Theatre,
Home of “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark”
(Source: Stephen M. Jones)
Deconstructing expressions of idealized masculinity, particularly heterosexual masculinity, in pop culture heroes has in many cases become an exercise in illustrating the ways in which hypermasculinity continues to be the preferred model of gendered behavior for boys and young men in the United States. On the surface, the heroes of graphic novels simply reek of hypermasculinity; male superheroes are teeming with muscles, agency, sex appeal, and confidence. An awkward reporter can transform into Superman. A shy scientist becomes a massive Hulk. However, for many fans this popular reading of idealized masculinity fails to capture the appeal of comic books superheroes. Superheroes struggle with their identities, emotions, and choices in the same ways as those without super powers. I recently sat down artist, writer, and comic book enthusiast Stephen M. Jones to discuss ways in which classic and contemporary comic heroes reinforce and challenge cultural notions of masculinity.