“Sometimes the jocks are the nerds…if that makes sense”: Boys’ Practice of Intra-gender Policing in a High School Where Staff Suggest Inclusivity
Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Dianne Cooney Miner
Orthodox masculinity is defined by compulsory heterosexuality, homophobia, and anti-femininity. The literature suggests there is intense peer pressure for boys to conform to orthodox masculinity during adolescence. Boy’s use of intra-gender policing behaviors—joking, teasing, bullying and violence—is meant to force or reinforce strict orthodox masculine performance. Intra-gender policing often leads to shame and humiliation for many boys. Inclusive masculinity theory (Anderson 2009) suggests however, that boys’ culture is changing. The literature documents the existence of inclusive school-based peer cultures where boys are not homophobic, embrace the feminine, and eschew violence. Using inclusive masculinity as the theoretical framework, this study posed two questions: (a) What is the practice of intra-gender policing in a high school where staff have suggested inclusivity? and (b) What is the evidence of inclusivity in this setting? Data was collected using 45-minute semi-structured interviews of eight boys in their junior or senior year at Suburban High. Findings suggest the presence of boys who perform inclusive masculinities that include embrace of the once feminized (for example, participating in musical theater) and the intellectual acceptance of gay male peers. Intragender policing behaviors seem confined to subgroups who perform orthodox masculinities and include “play fighting” and homophobic discourse. An additional finding of adult gender policing is discussed. These findings seem to offer documentation of the second stage of inclusive masculinity theory described by Anderson (2009) as a time when in which two dominant but not dominating masculinities, orthodox masculinity and inclusive masculinity, will co-exist. Implications for execlead include support of student Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs and the elimination of cultural barriers to hiring openly gay teachers. Additional implications for education, professional practice, theory, and future research are presented.
Clark, Kelly, "“Sometimes the jocks are the nerds…if that makes sense”: Boys’ Practice of Intra-gender Policing in a High School Where Staff Suggest Inclusivity" (2015). Education Doctoral. Paper 249.
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