Tag Archives: youths

“No one else has porn on the phone. It’s pretty sick”: Stigmatizing porn, shaming and silencing boys?

24 Nov

Adapted from Afra, A. & Quigley, J. (2013). ‘Children’s constructions of ‘porn’ in an Irish primary school: Implications for boys. In M. Leane & E. Kiely (eds.). Sexualities and Irish Society. A Reader. Dublin: Orpen, 321-346.

Today I’d like to get started with presenting some of the findings relating to the porn aspect of ‘porn and hookup culture in an Irish primary school’. Beforehand though I will introduce the participants and then set the context in which ‘porn’ emerged.

Participants

There were twenty-four participants in total, eleven boys and thirteen girls, aged eleven and twelve and all forming one group of sixth class. Two of the boys identified as British and the rest as settled Irish. All eleven boys were white. Of the thirteen girls one was South-East- Asian-Irish, a second was white continental-European-Irish and a third girl was black African-Irish. The remaining ten girls were white and settled Irish. All participants were physically and intellectually normatively abled. The large primary school where fieldwork took place was located in a high-economic-status suburb of Dublin and was under the patronage of the Catholic Church. All names used throughout the presentation of findings are pseudonyms.

Contextualization of Findings

“Porn” had been discovered by school staff as a result of a violent fight between two boys (David and Anthony) that involved an escalation of one boy taunting the other with “gay porn” (Anthony’s words) from a mobile phone to imply that he was “gay” (participants’ word).

It was hoped that raising the topic of an anti-bullying programme during focus group discussions would encourage the children to talk about porn. The decision not to confront participants more directly about the topic was based on previous discussions during the year about kissing (called “meeting”) and the Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) curriculum that had led some children to feel “awkward”. This short extract exemplifies the necessity to have allowed individual children to take control over whether to talk about porn or not:

AA             What was the talk about?

Ava            About the word in, I don’t like saying it. The word in em

Lily             [laughs]

Ava            [laughs] It’s a bit weird.

Lily             [laughs]

AA             What was the word? ‘Sex’?

Lily            Yeah

Lily            Remember, we’re twelve.

Evidently, sex-related topics could be terribly difficult to discuss for some. Below, I move on to some of the ways that those children who did dare to transgress the norm of ‘childhood innocence’ constructed ‘porn’ with their talk.

Porn as something that shouldn’t be spoken about:

Discussing the recently delivered anti-bullying programme during interviews had prompted some children to talk about the ‘porn fight’ thus leading to an extended discussion of porn. However, one of the ways to construct ‘porn’ was as ‘unspeakable’:

AA            What was the fight about? … Or how did it get started?

Mikey       David just kept on like- like it wasn’t the first time David had ever

Mikey       like annoyed Anthony.

Graham    He just [kept on doing it

Mikey                      [annoying him and annoying him [and annoying him

Graham                                                                                 [and then Anthony just

Graham      acted out. He acted and then just…

Alison        And what exactly was David doing to annoy Anthony do you know? …

Mikey        Calling him names and just … just calling him gay and like all that

Mikey        I think he was texting him stuff, was he?

Graham     Yeah I don’t know

The specific details about how David was “annoying” Anthony, i.e. by watching porn in the classroom and by taunting him with “gay porn”, were omitted from Graham and Mikey’s accounts. When probed, Mikey diverted attention away from porn by emphasising the purpose to which David had been using it as a means, namely to ridicule Anthony as “gay”. The “just” of “just calling him gay” functioned to reassure the researcher, an adult woman, that there was nothing more to know about. Shortly after, Mikey conspires to share the ‘secret’ of porn, “I think he was texting him stuff, was he?” but Graham refuses to take the discussion in this direction by explicitly though ambivalently claiming ignorance, “Yeah I don’t know.”

Five boys in total spoke about porn and even then two out of the five subsequently withdrew the relevant sections from their transcripts. Evidently, it was extremely challenging to try to co-produce verbal data with the boys about it. The extracts below shed some light on the stigma preventing frank discussion.

Porn as “sick” and “sort of perverted”

Alison       Ok. So how do kids your age manage to get pornography?

Brian         Emmm…

Rory         That’s David

Brian        That’s David

Anthony     It’s called-

Brian         No one else has porn on the phone

Alison       Ok

Anthony     It’s pretty sick like literally this is all you have to do [takes his

Anthony     phone out of his pocket]

Alison        Don’t get it now

Rory         [laughs]

Anthony   I’m not. Oh yeah like I’d do that.

Above we witness the marginalization of David as strange at best and “sick” at worst for being the sort of boy who would be in possession of porn on his cell phone. The stigmatization and pathologization of porn continues below:

Anthony:

I remember em one of my friends he was looking it up. And I was like ‘aw stop that’s sort of perverted’ and like he said ‘aw it’s grand’ and I took his phone and … somehow or other I went in. I took the phone for the whole night like off him and I went in to settings and I eh deleted his eh browser so he couldn’t look it up coz I said ‘eventually one day your mam and your dad are going to take your phone  and look at the addresses.’ Like you’re able to enter addresses. Then all of a sudden they’re going to see like porn horn and all this crazy cack so …

The seeming ease with which porn can be accessed along with any desire to do so is obstructed by more than merely getting caught. Anthony has pathologized the downloading of  it on to a phone as “sort of perverted”, as well as describing the actual contents as, “crazy cack”. Through his construction of it as being only “sort of perverted” and not absolutely so, while his friend defines it as not at all perverted , “aw it’s grand”, we are witness to the pushes and pulls of ‘porn’ as produced by overlapping and competing discourses. This is a point of similarity with the existing literature in that it is normative to admit to familiarity with mobile-phone porn whilst simultaneously denying possession of it on one’s own phone (Bond, 2010).

In next month’s post I will present further the discourses that guided the aforementioned constructions of porn in the way that they did. Meanwhile, the main thing to note is that the boys were not free to discuss porn with the researcher because of a stigma attached to it making it shameful and pathological. I recommend that we stop to wonder how discourses on the ‘premature sexualization of childhood’ that are linked to the ‘sexualization of culture’  inadvertently exacerbate the stigma through the panic they stir and anxiety they rouse thus endangering the very children they aim to protect.

Until then,  have a great month!

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Irish boys slut-shamed by parents, victimized by sex-starved girls

14 Oct

Hello and welcome back to ‘Porn and Hookup Culture in an Irish Primary School’ – Part 3. Today I’d like to highlight that the fuss over the ‘sexualization of culture’ and the way it purportedly prematurely sexualizes children is often a fuss that emphasizes the interests and concerns of the more privileged of social groups among us.

At the time of doing the research, for example, media coverage of sexualization in Ireland lamented the loss of childhood innocence but only for children who were cisgendered and showed promise to mature into heterosexual adults. That is, at no point did any journalists object to the systematic exclusion of LGBTQ youth from mainstream visual culture. In other words, commentators did not stop to wonder what it must be like to repeatedly find oneself left out of media representations since they were so embroiled in the question of how the media impacts a very narrowly defined social category of children and young people (CYP). The misguided presumption that everyone is heterosexual and that everyone is content with doing gender according to the conventions of heterosexuality is one meaning sociologists give to the term heteronormative.

Interestingly, the very phrase ‘premature sexualization of children’ obscures how it is really girls over whom we are getting our knickers in a twist. Outrage over the marketing of padded bras to seven-year-olds is arguably outrage over the commercialization of sex for girls. Notwithstanding what might actually be objectionable about the commodification of sexuality, why not just call a spade a spade? Why make it seem like we are equally concerned for girls and boys when there is barely a thought spared for boys beyond how they are encouraged to objectify girls? What is invested in the notions that sexual expression by girls ought to be curtailed and that apart from being sexual predators, boys have otherwise got sexuality all sussed? Aren’t these the very factors – slut-shaming and machismo – that eventually lead to danger and unhappiness in interpersonal sex?

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Porn and Hookup Culture in an Irish Primary School

13 Apr

Welcome to the first post in a series of monthly posts on masculinities in an Irish primary school. Over the coming months I will be sharing research findings on boys’ experiences of porn and hookup culture. There has been growing concern in recent years over the ‘premature sexualization of childhood’ that is claimed to be caused by the ‘sexualization of culture’. So before actually detailing the aforementioned findings, some of the initial posts will lay out the socio-cultural context in which they were produced.

As mentioned, the research in question took place in Ireland. The data were co-produced with eleven- and twelve-year-old girls and boys during their final year of primary school. I spent the academic year of 2009/2010 hanging out with the children a couple of days a week and interviewing them in pairs and groups about my observations. Furthermore, interviewees were invited to introduce topics of their own choice for discussion.

Overall, the themes that emerged ranged from academic performance to religion, from sports, dance and athletics to friendships and family relationships. Clearly, then, the more overtly sexualized themes chosen for analysis were not necessarily central to the children’s lives. Rather I played an active role in determining what to focus on. Nevertheless, porn and hookup culture did emerge and as such warranted exploration.

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A Community of Black Dads

15 Dec

The great folks at Colorlines are currently running an extensive, brilliant and insightful series on Black Men: Life Cycles of Inequity. The current topic is Black fatherhood. Please view the related articles ‘The Untold Story of Black Fatherhood’ and ‘A New Image of Black Fatherhood’. Today’s re-blog is a video introduced by Kai Wright, produced by André Robert Lee and edited by Elizabeth Rao. It first appeared on Colorlines on November 19th 2014.

In the video above, our series’ filmmaker André Robert Lee speaks with a pastor in New Haven, Conn., whose life reveals one of the many things about black family that gets overlooked in the constant handwringing about a crisis of black fathers. For centuries, black families have had a tradition of communal parenting. This tradition stretches back to our West African roots and it was among the cultural tools we used to survive slavery in the Americas and the terrorism of 20th century segregation—both of which actively sought to destroy black family units. The tradition continues to buttress black families navigating today’s endemic poverty and the abuses of the criminal justice system. Father Mathis and the men for whom he has been a surrogate father share their stories with Colorlines, and we thank them.

A New Image of Black Fatherhood

8 Dec

All photos by Marcus Franklin.

The great folks at Colorlines are currently running an extensive, brilliant and insightful series on Black Men. This months installments focus on Black fatherhood. Please read the first essay ‘The Untold Story of Black Fatherhood’ by Stacia L. Brown here. Today’s re-blog is a photo essay by Marcus Franklin who refocuses the distorting lens of mainstream media with intimate portraits of black dads and their kids. It first appeared on Colorlines.com on November 19 2014.

In June of 2013 I started photographing black men and their children and created The Fatherhood Project, the online home for photos that capture them in ordinary moments. A single dad helping his daughter with math homework during a break at work. A dad teaching his daughter how to walk as they wait to see a doctor. A father and son chilling on a stoop.

Why photograph black men and their children? What’s extraordinary about these subjects?

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The Untold Story of Black Fatherhood

24 Nov

Photo by Matthew Brown

The great folks at Colorlines are currently running an extensive, brilliant and insightful series on Black Men: Life Cycles of Inequity. This week’s re-blogged article by Stacia L. Brown focuses on Black fatherhood. It first appeared on Colorlines.com on November 18 2014.

Thirty-five-year-old Tyrone Hopkins is like any number of black men I’ve known growing up in Baltimore. Sit down with him for a few minutes and he’ll talk to you like he’s known you forever. Everyone who lives in Baltimore says it’s like a big town, rather than a major urban city. “Smalltimore,” residents sometimes call it, because you can’t go far without finding a link to someone you’ve never met—a shared acquaintance, a common experience or a neighborhood connection. It’s like that with Hopkins, too. Ask him something personal and, if he’s cool with you, he’ll be candid, funny and cordial—even if it’s a difficult topic to discuss, like the ups and downs of life as a single black father.

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#GamerGate and the Politics of Resentment (Part 2)

24 Sep

(This is Part 2 of an article series that explores a case of harassment in online gaming known as #GamerGate. Please read Part 1 of this post here. Part 2 argues that the sexist harassment campaign is rooted in resentment against current changes in the gaming industry.)

In the early days of the harassment campaign against Zoe Quinn – indie game developer, critic, and cyborg – before the campaign was given its name, a number of editorials were written on a curiously specific theme: the cultural category of “gamer,” and how those who play games relate to it. On Kotaku, Luke Plunkett wrote of the “Death of An Identity.” “Gaming is a hobby I’ve had (on and off) for most of my life,” wrote Emma M. Woolley in The Globe and Mail, “but I’ve never called myself a gamer.  One reason is that while playing video games is something I enjoy, it doesn’t define who I am; another is that I don’t identify with many people who do call themselves gamers.” The “gamer” label has been a problem for games writers for some time; never literally describing everyone who plays any kind of games (which is to say, almost everyone), it’s traditionally been used to exclude casual games, mobile platforms, or certain genres. In its most nativist form, “gamer” (often appended by the modifier “real”) is a term used to denote a class of consumers that cares about gaming more than anyone else, competes more fiercely than anyone else, and is thus deserving of special attention from the industry and the press that covers it. In academic circles, there have been attempts to expand the category of “gamer” to better represent the variety of players out there. These editorials were taking the opposite tack: if this is what “real gamers” really want “gamer” to mean–young white men with disposable income who respond to academic criticism with death threats–then fuck ’em. Let them have it. “‘Gamer’ isn’t just a dated demographic label that most people increasingly prefer not to use,” wrote Leigh Alexander for Gamasutra. “Gamers are over. That’s why they’re so mad.”

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The International Conference on Masculinities: Engaging Men and Boys for Gender Equality. Call for Proposals

8 Sep

CALL FOR PROPOSALS

The International Conference on Masculinities:
Engaging Men and Boys for Gender Equality

On March 6-8, 2015, the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities (CSMM) will host the International Conference on Masculinities: Engaging Men and Boys for Gender Equality, in New York City.  The Conference is timed to immediately precede the meeting of the Commission of the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations,

Twenty years after the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, the CSW will hold its annual two-week meeting, March 9-27, 2015, in New York. Thousands of participants from UN agencies, NGOs and national governments will discuss the progress made towards greater gender equality over the past two decades.

Those twenty years have also witnessed unprecedented efforts to engage men around gender equality.  The CSMM conference aims to bring together more than 500 activists, practitioners, and academic researchers from around the world who are working to engage men and boys in fulfilling the Platform for Action adopted by the CSW in Beijing.  It will review the success of programs to engage men and boys, share research-in-progress, discuss new and possible policy initiatives, and chart research needs for the future.

The Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities was established at Stony Brook University (SUNY) in 2013. The Center is dedicated to interdisciplinary research on boys, men, masculinities and gender.  Its mission is to bring together researchers with practitioners and activists to develop and enhance social reform projects focusing on boys and men.

For this conference, CSMM has partnered with the American Men’s Studies Association, and the MenEngage Network, to build opportunities for dialogue, critique and inspiration across three days of presentations, panels, workshops, and trainings. The twin goals of the conference are: (1) To infuse men’s activism in support of gender justice with the rigor and insights of the most up-to-date research;  (2) to increase cooperation and ties between academic researchers who address various gender issues, and feminist activists, practitioners, and advocates.

CSMM invites all those committed to engaging boys and men in these global efforts to promote gender equality to share their ideas, programs, projects, and research.

Some basic themes of the conference will include:
– boys’ healthy development and education;
– involved fatherhood;
– balancing work and family life;
– men’s friendships;
– promoting men’s health, reducing health risks and HIV, and supporting women’s reproductive health and rights;
– joining the global struggle against men’s violence against women, sexual assault, trafficking, and harmful traditional practices;
– engaging men in policies to promote gender equality in education, employment, social life, and the political arena.

Some specific issues might include:  transforming fatherhood;  working with boys and young men;  challenges of reaching men in post-conflict settings;  preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS;  men and aging, disability, impairment, and illness;  diverse masculinities;  multi-cultural coalition building;  challenging homophobia;  understanding and preventing gang-rapes and mass-murders by boys and men;  engaging religious authorities;  boys’ education;  challenging bullying, harassment, and domestic abuse;  working with abusive & violent men;  men and child-custody issues;  campus programs for preventing sexual violence;  men in prisons;  men and the military;  men and prostitution;  gender-linked alcohol and drug abuse;  men’s depression and suicide, and other topics.

Presentations can cover research, policy, interventions, and activist work. Presentation formats may include: 3 -5 person panels, short one-person talks (with Q-&-A), workshops, films, art, poster presentations, informal roundtable discussions, music, and performances. We will accept formal academic papers but at the conference we will ask that presenters not read papers but to be more informal and interactive, within the context of language possibilities. The premium at each session will be on discussion.

The working language will be English.  Sessions completely in Spanish, French, Arabic, and Chinese may be accepted but the conference unfortunately cannot provide the resources for translation.

Conference costs will be kept low to enable widespread participation, and some limited financial support may be available to those in need, especially from the Global South.

Proposals may be submitted online (http://www.jotform.us/AMSA/CSMM_2015) and any questions about the proposal process may be directed to csmmsb2015@gmail.com.

The deadline for proposal submission is October 31st, 2014.

Please visit the Conference Website.

Race, Disability and the School-to-Prison Pipeline

11 Aug

It should not need to take the death of yet another unarmed African American man at the hands of law enforcement to remind us that looking at the intersections of race and masculinity is crucially important. Here at Masculinities 101, we have talked about the challenges face by young men of color and the flaws with policies supposedly designed for them.

Photo by Julianne Hing/Colorlines

The great folks at Colorlines are currently running an extensive, brilliant and insightful series on Black Men: Life Cycles of Inequity. Today’s post addresses the issue of implicit biases in schools. By Julianne Hing, first published at Colorlines May 13 2014.

Enikia Ford-Morthel speaks of Amo (a pseudonym) with the fondness of an auntie talking about a beloved nephew. She recalls watching Amo at his fifth-grade graduation from Cox Academy in Oakland two years ago. The memory of him walking across the stage still fills her with emotion. “He looked so cute in his little white suit, with his jewelry on,” Ford-Morthel says of his graduation. “I just cried.”

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Throwing like a Girl? The Case for Gender Similarity in Sports

12 May

Source: Nathan Rupert (SD) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Finally, it’s almost summer. And as the weather gets better, more and more social life in my neighborhood shifts outside to the street. As I was sitting at my desk the other day, I noticed two kids playing in the street, a boy of maybe 10 years and a girl, maybe 8. The boy was practicing his basketball skills, dribbling the ball between his legs, moving backwards, sidewards, spinning around, all while keeping perfect control over the ball. The girl on the other hand was listening to music and practicing dance moves from the latest music video (needless to say, both kids were far more skillful in their respective activity than I ever will be). Then something interesting happened: The kids started teaching each other their respective activities. And while the boy did quite a good job of learning the girl’s dance moves, the girl struggled when it came to dribbling the basketball: Whereas before as she was dancing, she was able to move extremely smoothly and elegantly, now her body became stiff. Her eyes fixated on the ball so as not to lose control, her upper body moved up and down parallel to her hand awkwardly and in a very choppy way; and she kept losing the ball repeatedly after every dozen or so dribbles. Is this little anecdote proof then that girls are just naturally less adept at ball games than boys [spoiler alert: it’s not]?

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