This article reports findings from a qualitative case study undertaken at a Vancouver high school designed to examine the role of media and physical education (PE) in shaping how young males (n = 36) understand and practice gender. The authors were specifically concerned with developing a nuanced understanding of how interpretations of masculinity relate to performances of masculinity and how interpretations and performances vary depending on social context and according to a youth’s social positioning. Findings revealed how participants criticized media portrayals of “hegemonic masculinities” (i.e., muscular, aggressive, and hyper-heterosexual masculinities) while simultaneously celebrating these same gender identities in PE. The authors used these findings as a foundation for arguing that (a) youth are flexible in their interpretations/performances of masculinity according to context; (b) the participants, in critiquing portrayals of hypermasculinity in media and supporting less radical versions of hegemonic masculinity in PE, were creating personal narratives around masculinity as a potential strategy for coping with feelings of disembodiment and disembeddedness; and (c) students’ critiques of gender portrayals, although offering symbolic challenges to the contemporary gender order, are nonetheless limited by structures that normalize hegemonic masculinities.
Millington, B., & Wilson, B. (2010). Context masculinities: Media consumption, physical education, and youth Identities. American Behavioral Scientist, 53(11), 1669-1688. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764210368091