masculinity, competition, social organization?

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Analysis and Social Organization of Masculinity Pertaining to Women's issues.

This is an indepth analysis and of Gender and Work, Masculinity and Homosociability

The social organization of masculinity, as described by Connell (2005) is the framework in which all male homosocial relationships take place. The social framework of masculinity is inherently hierarchal through its stratification of different masculinities and is perpetuated through aspects of homosociality. There are many ways in which homosociality promotes the hierarchal framework of masculinity, the most prominent is competition between males. Competition in homosociality is preformed within a wide variety social institutions, such as sports or the advertising industry (Gregory, 2009). This paper will specifically use the institution of strip clubs, described in Katherine Frank's book, G-Strings and Sympathy, Strip Club Regulars and Male Desire, to examine homosocial competition. Frank’s strip clubs are a perfect example of competitive homosociality that perpetuates hegemonic masculinity.R.W. Connell describes the social organization of masculinity as having four distinct forms of masculinity, which are arranged in a hierarchal structure (2005). The first is Hegemonic masculinity, which is the culturally ideal male, aggressive, stoic, competitive and sexually capable; the hegemonic male is considered normative. However not all men (or even most men) that can live up to the standards associated with hegemonic masculinity and so there are different forms of masculinity. Complicit masculinity is consisted of most other men who may not meet the standards of hegemonic masculinity but they still retain most of the benefits associated with hegemony by the simple fact of being male. The next two masculinities are the bottom of the pyramid and consist of men largely ostracized by hegemony. Marginalized masculinities are men who are part of a usually ethnic minority groups and subordinate masculinities are usually gay men or any man deemed effeminate. These different masculinities create a hierarchal framework of masculinities and gender relations in which homosocial relationships are formed. “Masculinity is constituted in relation to other masculinities and to the structure of gender relations as a whole” (Connell 2005, 154). Those relationships between masculinities and other gender relations are ones of dominance and subordination, thus hegemonic masculinity is established through its relationship with subordinate masculinities and femininity. Therefore some aspects of homosocial relationships between individuals as well as between social groups are formed to perpetuate hegemonic masculinity.

Particular interactions in homosociality exist merely to perpetuate the hierarchal framework of masculinities, particularly hegemonic masculinity. That is not to say that all forms of male relationships are formed with the sole purpose of perpetuating hegemonic masculinity. This is because “each male incorporates a variety of meanings into his gender identity, some of which are consistent with hegemonic masculinity and other of which are not” (Bird 1996, 122). Not all men who are considered normative perform all aspects of hegemonic masculinity. More often they take the parts that they feel suits their gender identity (Connell 2005). There are very few men who would be considered in reality, an actual representation of hegemonic masculinity. However it is not the incorporation of hegemonic masculinity into gender identities that perpetuates the hierarchal framework of masculinities, rather it is aspects of homosocial relationships of men, which perpetuate the framework. “homosociality promotes clear distinctions between hegemonic masculinities and non hegemonic masculinities by the segregation of social groups”(Bird 1996, 121). The homosocial relationships that men form are dictated by those men's status within the social framework of masculinities and so there is a power struggle between different types of masculinities. Therefore most homosocial relationships aggravate the stratification of different masculinities. In addition segregation between different social groups often spurs competition because men will try and climb their way to the top social group to achieve hegemonic masculinity. Competition is a large component of homosocial relationships that is constructed to perpetuate the hierarchal framework of masculinity, specifically hegemonic masculinity. Bird states that there are three meanings of homosociality that perpetuates hegemonic masculinity: emotional detachment, competitiveness and sexual objectification of women (1996, 121). However he directly states that “competition facilitates hierarchy in relationships” (Bird 1996, 122). Quite simply when men compete within or between homosocial groups in sports, academics, advertising industry and strip clubs, there will be a winner and a loser. Within the framework of masculinities this translates to one man becoming the hegemonic male and the other becoming one of the subordinate masculinities. Hegemonic masculinity attains power through those relationships, thus competition allows for hegemonic masculinity to retain its power. Competition also provides men with the opportunity to achieve hegemonic masculinity in some form or another. “Competition with other men provides a stage for establishing self both as an individual and as appropriately masculine. Competition also contributes to the perpetuation of male dominance [hegemonic masculinity]”(Bird 1996, 127). Competition shows up in homosocial relationships so men can prove their masculinity or show that they are not of a subordinate masculinity, which only perpetuates the hierarchy. There are many institutions that competitive homosociality are a part of. Some of which are already competitive like sports, academics or advertising industry. Others however, like strip clubs, may seem like an outlier institution in relation to competitive homosociality.

Frank describes an interesting aspect of male behavior in strip clubs; competition between males. Although there are a lot of reasons why men frequent strip clubs, it seems that men also use this institution to compete with one another. “Men often state they were showing off for the guys, especially those men who saw the pursuit of masculinity as competitive and stressful”(Frank 2002, 64). Strip clubs are another institution that allows for homosocial competition, which in this form is largely economic competition because men show off how much money they can spend. It seems however that the men who are competing may not be hegemonic males, rather some form of subordinate males since they find the pursuit of masculinity 'competitive and stressful'. There were “other men [who] enjoyed watching customers who were less financially prepared watch them” (Frank 2002, 64). It would seem that these men have already achieved some form of hegemonic masculinity and frequent strip clubs to retain their status and enjoy the power associated with their masculinity. With these different types of masculinities competing with each other, it seems that strip clubs are an important example of homosocial competition.

The framework in which homosocial relationships are formed is hierarchal in nature and promotes only one type of masculinity, known as hegemonic masculinity. Therefore there is a stratification of masculinities within society and a power struggle. The competition in homosocial relationships is merely a way to perpetuate hegemonic masculinity because there is always be a winner and a loser. There are a wide variety of institutions where homosocial competition takes place, strip clubs is one of them in which economic competition takes place. The competition Katherine Frank describes in strip clubs is a perfect example of the power struggle between different masculinities and the competition that perpetuates hegemonic masculinity.


masculinity, competition, social organization, women's issues

masculinity, competition, social organization, women's issues

Frank, Katherine. 2002. G-Strings and Sympathy, Strip Club Regulars and Male Desire. Durham & London: Duke University Press.

Connell, RW. 2005. Masculinities. Second ed. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Bird, Sharon R. 1996. "Welcome To The Men's Club: homosociality and the Maintenance of Hegemonic Masculinity." Gender & Society 10(2) 2: 120-131. Jstor (URL:

Gregory, Michele Rene. 2009 "Inside the Locker Room: Male Homosciability in the Advertising Industry." Gender, Work and Organization 16(3): 323-344. Wiley, Online Library (DOI:10.1111/j.1468-0432.2009.00447.x) Gender and Work

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