Mandel Laurie (1996). Heterosexism, sexual harassment, and adolescent gender Identity: a social and sexual curriculum in junior high. ED.D. Thesis, Hofstra University, 180 pages.
From the Abstract: First, this study suggests that students’ assumptions about heterosexuality perpetuate a norm of heterosexuality and constrain adolescent gender identity. Not only do students believe that a heterosexual identity is central to their gender identity, but stereotypic notions about femininity and masculinity largely inform their beliefs about who they are and who they cannot be... Students’ descriptions of masculinity are also stereotypic and are largely defined by an anti-feminine norm. Unlike the ways in which girls can and do value masculinity, boys do not and cannot value femininity.The proposition that an intense hatred of the feminine - and females - underlies the social construction of traditional male heterosexuality has dominated in this document, and I add the following in response to the Mandel (1996) study - first written for a 2000 presentation on another subject. What was written by Mandel was rewritten to highlight the underlying concept.
Second, this study asserts that there is a social and sexual curriculum in the culture of middle and junior high schools by which girls and boys construct their gender identities. This heterosexist curriculum, it is argued, perpetuates gender role stereotypes, limits gender identities, empowers masculine boys and disempowers girls, less masculine boys, lesbians, and gay males. The most pervasive indicators of this curriculum - due to heterosexism - are illustrated in the amount of gender disrespect, peer sexual harassment, homophobic language, and the highly (hetero)sexualized nature of adolescent gender relations in these middle and junior high schools. (Bold emphasis mine.)
"White boys' descriptions of Black People are also stereotypic and are largely defined by an anti-black norm. Unlike the ways in which 'Black People' can and do value White People*, white boys do not and cannot value anything 'Black'... The most pervasive indicators of this curriculum - due to racism - are illustrated in the amount of White disrespect for Black students, anti-Black harassment, White racist language, and the highly white racist nature of adolescent relations in these middle and junior high schools."Conclusion: Would you say that White boys love Black people, or is it hatred? 'Niggar Lovers' were also not appreciated. For them some of the meanest wrath of white racists could be expected! Who, however, have been the 'feminine lovers' in our society? Who were the males who would / could sit down with women, treat them as equals, and for which they were immediately suspected of being fags? Who have been the real male lovers of females? Are they not the sissy boys? Are they not the boys who are still often said to "over-identify with females" and are therefore apparently on their way to becoming homosexual? What has been the fate of these boys who seem to be lovers of women?
A report on the fate of boys daring to be feminine in a [heterosexual] male world - where anything feminine is to be considered inferior and also deeply hated - was articulated by Rofes (1995) in a paper titled "Making our schools safe for sissies."
"I knew I was queer when I was a small child. My voice was gently and sweet. I avoided sports and all roughness. I played with the girls... Heresy was a boy who cried a lot when he got hurt..., a boy who couldn't throw a baseball..., a boy putting on girls' clothing. Heresy was me. As I got older, and fully entered the society of children, I met the key enforcer of social roles among children... He was... like an evil spirit entering different bodies in different occasions... In any group of three of more boys, the bully was present. I know a lot about bullies. I know they have a specific social function: they define the limits of acceptable conduct, appearance, and activities for children. They enforce rigid expectations. They are masters of the art of humiliation and technicians of the science of terrorism. They wreaked havoc on my entire childhood. To this day, their handprints, like a slap on the face, remain stark and defined on my soul...For a discussion of femininity in gay and bisexual males, the over-representation of femininity in these males, anti-femininity attitudes in and outside gay communities, the increasing hatred of femininity by gay males as demanded by their 'creators', and related negative consequences (such as incidences of attempting suicide for the most feminine gay/bisexual male youth compared to their most masculine counterparts: 48% vs. 11%), see the section on "feminine males" by Tremblay and Ramsay (2000).
As I entered adolescence... I saw other sissy boys become neighborhood toughs. They formed gangs of bullies that tormented us... Watching the powerless take on the trappings of power, I would shake my head and withdraw into deeper isolation... The abuse I suffered in American public schools, from kindergarten to my senior year of high school, created deep psychic scars with which I have struggled throughout my lifetime. These same scars are shared by many others. We will never forget that we were tortured and publicly humiliated because we refused to be real boys, acted 'girlish,' or were simply different. This was the price we paid for being queer" (pp. 79-80).
Rofes was most troubled about the "sissy boy" reality being ignored not only in mainstream society but also by gay and lesbian individuals advocating for an end to the wholesale abuse of their adolescent counterparts. In this respect, he emphasized that "to say sissies = gay male youth is considered offensive by many in the gay community" and suggested "that little attention has focused on the plight of the sissy [because] gay male activists and educators alike carry unresolved feelings about their own sissy pasts... These barriers must be examined, challenged, and overcome because - regardless of future sexual orientation - sissy boys have become contemporary youth's primary exposure to gay identity" (p. 81).
"...[I]nterviews with gay men of all classes, races, and educational backgrounds reveal a strikingly large percentage who acknowledge a sissy past when asked. This is true of gay men who exemplify American ideals of masculinity, as well as hypermasculine men in the gay ghetto. Some sissy boys grow up to be nontraditional adult men - androgynous, "effeminate," transgendered, or simply gentle - while others transform themselves into traditional versions of masculinity... Some gay men have talked and written candidly about their struggles as sissy boy" [with many example of this fact of life supplied] (Rofes, 1995, p. 81-2).
The inability to "be" who one "is" also results from external pressures which, for all boys manifesting a "feminine" self, is operating via "the bully" and his allies: average adolescents, teachers and other adults who, though their silence, tacitly give their approval to the "masters of the art of humiliation and technicians of the science of terrorism" (Rofes, 1995, p. 80).
There are people who would think that the situation de la Torre (1999) described for the "machos" in Cuba - as reported in the Preface to the 2000 Internet Edition - is very different than the one existing in the remainder of the western world, but beware. Our own "hall of mirror" - as the analysis in The Homosexuality Factor in Social Violence illustrates - reveals a 'hidden' reality not much different from the Cuban one. I now requote some parts of de la Torre's 1999 paper, with an important addition:
"History is forged through one's cojones (balls)... [Meaning: like phallus is to penis.] 'El colmo' (the ultimate sin) is to be called a "maricón" (a derogatory term meaning queer or fag), the antithesis of machismo. We white Cuban elite males look into Lacan's mirror and recognize ourselves as machos through the distancing process of negative self-definition: 'I am what I am not.' The formation of the subject's ego constructs an illusory self-representation through the negation of cojones, now projected upon our Others, whoever identified as non-machos...Who then is this 'masked stranger' called Lacan known for warnings about the "hall of mirrors" in what we believe to be 'reality'? Jacques Lacan? Some references related to Jacques Lacan are given in a Note. The following information highlights a major difference between Freud and Lacan:
Unlike the United States, sexual identity for Cubans is defined in terms of masculinity, not in terms of gender... The phallic signifier of machismo is located in the cojones. For Cubans, cojones, not the penis, become our cultural "signifier of signifiers." The Other, if male, may have a penis, but lacks the cojones to use it. I conquer, I subdue, I domesticate por mis cojones (by my balls)...
As our Mexican friends Octavio Paz and Carlos Fuentes point out, the feminine is screwed beforehand . . . [Machismo's] negative hero is the dictator (one of Batista's motto was "Batista is the Man"), and its positive hero is the rebel. They are at odds in politics, but they both love power. And both despise homosexuality, as if every macho had his hidden gay side . . .
When the macho looks at himself in Lacan's mirror, he does not see a maricon hence he projects what he is not into his Other so as to define himself as a white, civilized macho. The power of seeing becomes internalized, naturalized and legitimized in order to mask the dominant culture's position of power. Our task as Hispanic ethicists is to move toward dismantling machismo, to go beyond machismo, by shattering the illusions created in our hall of mirrors.
"But Freud hoped that, by bringing the contents of the unconscious intoThe not so insignificant problem here, however, was rendered in the document with this quotation:
consciousness, he could minimize repression and neurosis - he makes a famous declaration about the relation between the unconscious and conscious, saying that "Wo Es war, soll Ich werden": Where It was, shall I be." In other words, the "it," or "id" (unconscious) will be replaced by the "I", by consciousness and self-identity. Freud's goal was to strengthen the ego, the "I" self, the conscious/rational identity, so it would be more powerful than the unconscious.
For Lacan, this project is impossible. The ego can never take the place of the unconscious, or empty it out, or control it, because, for Lacan, the ego or "I" self is only an illusion, a product of the unconscious itself. In Lacanian psychoanalysis, the unconscious is the ground of all being." (Jacques Lacan)
"You think you can determine your actions with free will? Far from it! Your conscious action is only a drop on the surface of the sea of unconscious process, of which you can know nothing about which, indeed, you are afraid to know" (Wilhelm Reich, 1948: 33).My 'adventures' into the world of the 'conscious' / 'unconscious' are reported in the "STW" files. Index page at: - http://www.virtualcity.com/youthsuicide/sathewo.htm . The 'conscious' has its "hall of mirrors," but the 'unconscious' also has its own but quite different "hall of mirrors." Furthermore, the 'unconscious' does NOT appear to be a singularity,' and what is called "consciousness" is more likely the opposite of what the word implies. Related comments are located in The Save-The-World Factor in Anorexia: The Miriam Case Study: Introduction (http://www.virtualcity.com/youthsuicide/sathewo6.htm).
Finally, the asterix encountered above in "Unlike the ways in which Black People can and do value* White People, White boys do not and cannot value anything 'Black'... " was used to highlight an important upcoming concept to be noted. In this respect, I was most fortunate on one of my journeys to encounter an African American male brave enough to speak on what would likely be highly taboo in his culture having its own "hall of mirrors":
"I recall a conversation several years ago with a black university administrator (in charge of shepherding Negroes through the institution, as most are) in which she cut me off in the middle of some peroration about my hatred of white people to point out, 'You don't hate them... You love them. We all do. We're just angry that they don't love us back.' Indeed, I have all my life harbored an intense an unabated desire to be those privileged, pretty white boys I have always desired..." (Shepherd, 1999: 138).This situation is much like the one which seems to exist for females and males believed to be like females - gay males - in many cultures, and the price of these similar psycho-social constructions has been enormous. The highest price paid, however, has been our ongoing non-understanding of ourselves and our interrelated "halls of mirrors" from which we yet have to emerge.
À La Prochaine!
Tremblay P, Ramsay R (2000). The Social Construction of Male Homosexuality And Related Suicide Problems: A Research Agenda For the Twenty-First Century. Available at: - http://www.youth-suicide.com/gay-bisexual/gay-youth-suicide-san-diego.htm - or - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~ptrembla/homosexuality-suicide/construction/gay-youth-suicide-san-diego.htm .
De La Torre, Miguel (1999). Beyond Machismo: a Cuban Case Study. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics, 19, 213-33. Internet Availability: - http://www.hope.edu/academic/religion/delatorre/articles/macho.html N/A (Archive Link) New Link: http://www.libertadlatina.org/Latin_America_Machismo_p3.htm.
Jacques Lacan. - http://www.colorado.edu/English/ENGL2012Klages/lacan.html N/A (Archive Link).
Reginald (1999). Coloring outside the lines: an essay at definition.
Callaloo, 22(1), 134-40.