The challenges of constructing a non-hegemonic masculine identity : a study of isi-Zulu-speaking adolescent boys.
Burnard, Andrew James.
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Hegemonic masculinity (HM) is considered by many boys and men to be the "gold standard" of masculinity to which they are expected to conform (Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005). However, many boys feel that they fall short of this standard and are thus challenged to negotiate their sense of masculinity through positioning themselves in relation to masculine standards in various ways (Wetherell & Edley, 1999). This research therefore aims to explore the process of subject positioning in relation to HM and, if it occurs, the process of successfully aligning masculine identity with alternative (non-hegemonic) forms of masculinity. Eight late adolescent boys from rural KwaZulu-Natal were interviewed, and the data were qualitatively analysed by focussing on the boys' narratives used to describe masculinity and how they position themselves in relation to the various norms of masculinity. The results indicate that these boys did not show signs of having non-hegemonic masculinities. However, all boys reframed HM into a new discourse still based on the acceptance of the hegemonic domination over women and femininity (including less masculine boys), while disavowing practices relating to alcohol use, crime and risky sexual practices. This discourse represented a sanitised version of HM. It was suggested that boys maintain these multiple versions of masculinity in parallel, and use psychological splitting to maintain them. Soccer emerged as serving an important function for the creation and maintenance of these sanitised masculinities.