Power Point SSSS April 2006

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Published on January 23, 2008

Author: Venere

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Good Girl vs. Bad Girl & Tough Guy vs. Sweet Guy: Perceptions of Young People on How Traditional Gender Roles Still Affect Relationship Choices and Pleasure :  Good Girl vs. Bad Girl & Tough Guy vs. Sweet Guy: Perceptions of Young People on How Traditional Gender Roles Still Affect Relationship Choices and Pleasure Research carried out by Betsy Crane & Kathryn Thompson, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, & Jesse Crane-Seeber, American University Presented by Betsy Crane at SSSS Western Region Conference, Redondo Beach, CA, April 8, 2006; bcrane@iup.edu Purpose of research:  Purpose of research Qualitative study of perceptions of young people in their early-mid 20s related to traditional & non-traditional gender roles, sexual identities, relationships, & pleasure. In what ways do constructs such as the “good girl” and “tough guy” have meaning in their lives & relationships? How do these roles and identities constrain or define gendered sexual identities & experiences? Gender/Sexual identity:  Gender/Sexual identity Gender as social construct; as performance (Butler, 1993; Gender & sexual identities under flux; exist on continuum. Young people are pioneers. (Savin-Williams, 2005) Nuances of patriarchal domination; feminist study of masculinities (e.g. Connell, 1995) Multicultural matrices of domination (Hill Collins, 1990) “Gender may be fragmenting but it still permeates the structure of social order” (Lorbeer, 2005, p. xii). Four Boxes of Gendered Sexuality (Crane & Crane-Seeber, 2003):  Four Boxes of Gendered Sexuality (Crane & Crane-Seeber, 2003) Tough Guy: Protector/Dominator Good Girl: Wife/Mother Heritage of 6,000+ year history::  Heritage of 6,000+ year history: Male social and political domination led to norms based on: Acceptance of the social order by males & females Dominating social & sexual behavior by males Repression of females, the feminine, & homosexuality. Disciplining of masculinity Expectations for women and men::  Expectations for women and men: Tug and pull between security/ social acceptability vs. personal authenticity. Heteronormativity - Marriage and roles of wife and husband still carry heavy symbolic weight. Legacy of traditional gender roles affects daily life, & people in same and other-gender relationships. Student-led focus group discussions:  Student-led focus group discussions Focus group discussions led by Thompson, undergraduate psychology student at IUP, & Crane-Seeber, IR doctoral student at American University. Thus far (ongoing project) three groups with 14 participants + 2 participant-researchers 2 groups at a college in rural western Pennsylvania, 1 group in Washington, DC. Purposeful sampling:  Purposeful sampling Information-rich cases Young people who were familiar with this theory, having heard class presentation and/or read article; sophisticated about gender/sexuality. Ages 20-28; median age 23 Ethnicity – white/European heritage; additional data collection will include other races/ethnicities Context and Sample::  Context and Sample: 2/3 focus groups in western PA: No nudity in women’s sauna; very Christian, but “hook-ups”/casual sex becoming more common. Voluntary sample of those who had taken Sociology of Sexuality class or read article; relatively sophisticated about sexuality and gender theory. As one said: “I think that the ways in which the social guidelines tell us the way that we should be, and should not be, with gender and with sexuality, are incredibly mind-boggling.” Demographics/Open-coding:  Demographics/Open-coding Gender identity: Female (8); Queer (1); Neutral (1); Male (4) Sexual identity: Hetero/straight (2); Hetero, open, bi-curious (3); Queer (4); Lesbian or gay (2); Bi-sexual (2) Socio-Economic Class – Raised poor or working class (4); lower middle class (3); middle class (5); upper class (1) Inductive findings:  Inductive findings Fluidity around gender/sexual identity. Awareness of & resistance to traditional expectations and heterosexual imperative. For those in same-sex relationships, traditional roles are a backdrop, but are “making it up as we go along.” Males feeling more confined by traditional roles; less support for change. Women - 3rd-wavy, “post-modern feminists” still oriented toward the protector-dominator “tough guys.” May have sex with tough guys, but don’t trust them; Difficulty initiating sex with sweet guys. May not trust the sweet guys; see them as reverting to tough guy. Another thinks “sweet guys are really sexy.” Gender/Sexual Identities: Flexible Categories:  Gender/Sexual Identities: Flexible Categories M -“I sort of jump back & forth between perceived genders.” F- As far as gender, I have such a mixture of traditionally feminine and masculine traits that I don’t even bother trying to identify them anymore. I only identify with people who also seem to have that mix. F- “I hate labels. I’d rather be curvy than straight any day.” Slide13:  M - I try to, especially around males that I don’t know, I try to put on—I do the tough guy thing. I compete with other males, and I work on muscles, I play aggressive sports, and I like to win arguments. I’m sort of a dominant personality, in that case. But when it really comes down to it, I’m more of a sweet guy or a nice guy. So depending on who I interact with, I display either of those roles. Slide14:  F -“I definitely identify my gender as queer, because I feel like I can dress in a t-shirt and khaki pants and cargo pants and boy tennis shoes. I think the only article of clothing I have to buy in the female section at this point that I’m wearing is my bra. ‘Cause they just don’t make good male bras, y’know?” F – “I’ve always been very feminine, I never went through the tomboy phase. It was very hard for me when I was getting older, because my parents just said “Don’t have sex until you’re married, it’s bad, la la la.” And so I didn’t know how to handle myself.” Slide15:  M -“I identify as a man, but I guess if it would fit into boxes I’d be more of a female. I can relate more, I can talk more to girls about cosmetics and appearance than guys. As for sexuality, I’m just a sexual person who has an attraction more towards females. But, I mean, I’ve never ruled out a man, I just haven’t found one. “ M - Tell me about it. I’ve just been attracted to females, but I’m not going to turn down a man, if I like him. That’s pretty much where I see myself—not as gay, not as straight, as bisexual but just attracted to people. Sexual Identity::  Sexual Identity: F -“I identify as a woman, a sexual woman – bisexual is too limiting.” F -“I used to identify as lesbian but now I’m just queer – even lesbian is too constricting. There might be a some cool feminist guys out there that might be alright to be with.” Being queer- not having to specify:  Being queer- not having to specify F- I would identify as queer because it’s like too much pressure to try to figure everything out. You know what I mean? Like “I don’t really know, because I think I’m gay but sometimes I like guys.” It’s like way too much pressure, so I just like queer, because then it doesn’t matter, whatever happens is fine. That’s really nice to know. And mostly I find I’m attracted to people who are ambiguously gendered anyway, which makes that even weirder to try to figure out because I’m like, “well I like boys, but only boys that are really girly” (laughter) and so it’s really hard to figure out. I think queer is just good. Queer; multiple meanings :  Queer; multiple meanings F- I just think that queer is—it’s a good word for being able to do whatever you like and having the mobility to do whatever you like. F- When I came out, queer theory was not something I had even heard of, and it’s so encompassing now, all-encompassing, just everything that you want to be that’s not traditionally heterosexual. That’s something that even I haven’t gotten into myself, to identify myself as queer because I do identify myself as, “Yeah, I’m gay, I’m queer.” But I don’t like males…I just don’t. I don’t want really anything to do with them. I mean, yeah, I like talking with my friends…I don’t hate males, its just… Perceptions of changes::  Perceptions of changes: F – “It’s more expected now for women to have careers, and to be sexual. Although I see there’s still a lot of double standards, women being called ‘whores,’ but that’s another issue.” M – “It seems like men are starting to be allowed to express their sexuality more. When I say ‘express their sexuality more,’ I mean be honest with it, and authentic. Like, they’re allowed to wear tighter, more revealing clothing.” Greater acceptance of gay/queer:  Greater acceptance of gay/queer F- People are starting to become more aware of it - programs in schools and conferences and everything supporting gay rights, queer rights. I do think it is getting better. M - As society becomes more open to it—well, not necessarily ours, but the world society as a whole, then more and more people will have experience with it and they’ll realize that it’s not the social “other” that we’ve been fed all of our lives. It’s so refreshing once you can see people come to that. It really is. Perceptions of changes, cont.:  Perceptions of changes, cont. F -“Things are getting better in that people are coming out and being themselves, which opens the road for other people to be like ‘Okay, maybe I can come out and be myself.’ But I feel that our social institutions, especially the media, are just pushing ‘hetero hetero hetero’ - stay in your boxes, and if you don’t, we’re just gonna hate you.” Perception of Backlash:  Perception of Backlash F- I think that things are on the upswing, but I’m thinking there is a big backlash now because it’s such a… a cultural change going on, in this country anyway…where people are all of a sudden becoming less tolerant, and they’re trying to pass laws to prevent (gay marriage). Traditional norms/expectations::  Traditional norms/expectations: F –”This is coming from growing up in a very religious household, but not necessarily living that lifestyle. And also from my peers and the world in general. Women are still looked at—the women in the bad girl category are still looked upon as whores, even with all the changes women are experiencing…I have lots of male friends, especially from when I was growing up, I had a lot of male friends, and just the way they talk about women, women they see at bars, it’s like “Oh yeah, she’s a slut,” I can’t even think of some of the words they used.” Slide24:  F- “So many people who I consider to be educated, open minded, empowered, and then—something will occur, and they just totally go immediately to an essentialist perspective, oh ‘Boys will be boys.’ What the hell does that mean? ‘Boys will be—’ What? Bullies? Boys will be mean? They’ll beat up on other guys.” M – “They’ll be rapists.” Heteronormative expectations:  Heteronormative expectations F- “I recently told my mother that I was bisexual on Easter…you know, you say it with the ham, and it’s good. And she freaked out, and I told her, “Well, you do realize this means I still like men,” and she’s like “Oh, good.” Like it was calming her...‘cause she was picturing my future and getting married and having kids and all of that, she was seeing that whole line laid out in front of me and all of a sudden I just like cut the line, and she freaked out.” Slide26:  F- “A lot of people that I know, even people that consider themselves pretty open in many different ways, still aspire to get married with one person, buy a townhouse, and settle down and live that lifestyle forever. I definitely think that our traditional gender roles still very much affect a lot of what we do. But for myself, now that I’ve been more interested in this issue, I consciously try to break down those gender stereotypes, where I can. Just sort of not think about how I need to act because I’m a woman, but rather just try to think of how I ought to act based on what I want to do and who I am.” Slide27:  F – “I think a lot of young women are hesitant to initiate sex, especially in a straight relationship. And I can certainly say that from my own experience. I felt that at age 20 I would be empowered enough not to be that way, but I think if I’m honest about myself it’s something that consciously, initially, I wasn’t aware of, but it still happens.” Effects of traditional roles:  Effects of traditional roles F – “Girls are encouraged more to be independent, but it’s at a price. If you are independent, then you’re not going to get boys to like you, at all, ever. I mean, you’re not going to get the traditional role guys to like you, which, there are lots of guys like that out there. That’s really hard, because girls are encouraged to go out and be their own people and have confidence and do all this stuff, but then in the end, if they do that, they also feel this need to have boyfriends, and then they can’t, because they can’t find guys that will like them when they’re being really independent.” Heterosexual imperative as trap; limit:  Heterosexual imperative as trap; limit F- “So I have to find a man, get married, have kids – in one word, ‘straight.’ It just feels like my whole life is dictated from here on out for the next 50 years and if I don’t follow all the rules, all the proper steps, then I’m not ‘really’ straight anyway, so I just go ahead and skip the label, then I don’t have to have all that pressure.” Slide30:  F -“A lot of times, girls are dating those assholes, not even because they are attracted to them. I think they feel like that’s what they are supposed to do.” M – “I definitely started to date way before I was ready for it, and never had a real relationship until college. It was just because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do.” Effects on F-M relationships:  Effects on F-M relationships F- “I’m oriented towards men, but it’s really hard for me to find a guy I can relate to because I think that more guys are in “the boxes” than girls, and I just can’t stand people that don’t have both feminine and masculine traits.” F- “I wonder to myself whether my fear of being in relationships, other than my fear of being hurt personally, was also related to the fact that a lot of guys I knew were trying to be tough guys. And that’s not at all what I wanted. It was hard to find sweet guys, because often they wouldn’t be as aggressive as tough guys. And they wouldn’t approach me, and I was dealing with my own sort of ‘Well, I’m supposed to be a good girl, so I shouldn’t be initiating too much, or being too aggressive’.” Females - More flexible gender roles/performance. :  Females - More flexible gender roles/performance. F - “I think there’s a lot more room for women to do whatever their little heart desires, around gender, than there is for men. Women aren’t as important. Masculinity- what it is to be male - is so crucial, that if you step out of it a little bit you are labeled. I really feel like there’s a lot more life-threatening consequences for stepping outside of the what’s socially proscribed to be a man than there are for being a female. Being “girly”:  Being “girly” Gender-wise…in a lot of ways I’m traditionally feminine, like I dress really girly and I like to do crafts and knit and crochet. I don’t like to do those things because they’re traditionally feminine, like a lot of girls who get into those things, but I feel like there’s sort of like all these girls that are reclaiming really girly things in a cool kind of not-really-feminine way; that’s more how I do it. Even that I choose to dress really feminine now—I haven’t always, and it wasn’t like I was taught to dress really feminine, but as I grew up I was like “I really like skirts, they’re the best thing to wear ever, they’re so comfortable.” I like bright colors, and so that’s how I got into that, not necessarily because it was what I was supposed to do. So I guess I ended up kind of girly, but not because I have to be real traditional and there are lots of other things about me that I like that are not really feminine at all. Slide34:  M – “A counter-movement that’s going on, that’s pushing against gender freedom. From what I see on campus? Yeah. I live juxtaposed to frat row so I see the entire hyper masculine lifestyle that goes on, the whole “gotta do a kegstand, and get as drunk as I can, and then I gotta see how many of these girls I can drag up to my room before they’re all gone,” kind of an idea. I think that’s getting more and more restrictive for people. In some cases. I think it’s going off in both directions, it’s becoming a dichotomy. It’s either completely restrictive or completely free, I guess... Because I can either get one of those “What are you?” kind of looks from walking around in my normal clothes and my hair down, or I can get sort of “I’m glad you’re here,” reactions. I don’t see much of a middle ground. As far as the masculine roles, the concept of masculine roles—I do think that we’re losing middle ground, and we’re going towards extremes.” Pleasure: Gendered challenges:  Pleasure: Gendered challenges F-“It’s exceedingly difficult for males to experience pleasure emotionally, whereas physically it’s almost automatic, in the biological sense. And for females, we are supposed to focus on the emotional aspects, feel connected and intimate with our partner, or forget about an orgasm; once every six months and you’re having sex every day. If you have the typical, hegemonically masculine male, the one who’s just there for the sex and for the orgasm…I think it’s detrimental to both parties; it’s not fair to women and it’s not fair to men. Until you look at it holistically - as an intimacy and a mutual pleasure kind of thing - nobody’s really going to be happy. Slide36:  F- “I personally don’t really believe that you can have a truly profoundly pleasurable sexual experience unless you are really okay with who you are and you’re really connecting with another person that you can really connect with. So that becomes essential, because if both of you are just trying to put on this character all the time, and trying to make that go together, it’s never going to work out. It’s never really going to be that great. Slide37:  F (cont.) I have a pretty sad view of men’s pleasure; I think a lot of times men must have bad sex a lot, all the time, always, because they can’t feel anything, and they can’t really feel pleasure. I just imagine, it must be terrible.” M- “And not being allowed to cry.” F- “And not being able to know, even know how to even begin to approach pleasure, to understand how it feels to be touched.” Slide38:  F: “And not allowed to truly connect with their partners. It’s something that I’ve experienced, and I’m like, “Oh my God, are you HERE? What the hell?” We’re trying to be close here, and you seem like you’re off in some far-distant land. It’s so sad, and I think that the “tough guy” is sort of what makes that happen; that men feel like they can’t be connected to their bodies. They feel like they have to be removed and they can’t show emotion. How is pleasure ever going to happen if you can’t be in touch with yourself in any way?” M – “It doesn’t. Until you can give all that bullshit up, it doesn’t.” Slide39:  F- I think obviously there’s a degree of that with women, too, but I think women are told more to be in touch with themselves, and their sensuality. To some extent, though, because we are allowed to… F - Women are allowed to be more sensual. Men can’t even enjoy sex. Women at least are allowed to enjoy kissing and caressing and things like that. M - Have you ever touched a boy’s nipples? They freak out. But it’s such a sensual part of the body, and my God…you should….oh, wow. I don’t know what to say. (lots of laughing). Differences with women:  Differences with women F- A lot of that is based on male-female sex. (In lesbian sex) orgasms happen all the time. It’s not just the male getting off, and being like “See you later, I’m done!” That’s just not how it is. For females sleeping with females, the pleasure is definitely something, to me at least, that can be heightened for both partners. They both can have multiple orgasms—or whoever may be participating. I think that it’s completely different. F - I love being with women, because I’m there, here, on their emotional level. I’ve never really found that with a guy. I don’t know if it’s just me, because they’re not in touch with their emotions, but that’s what it is. I love women for the emotionality and that brings me pleasure. M - Even as a teenager, experimenting with other guys, it wasn’t satisfying because of that; it was “you’re just this cute little boy that I’m going to try to talk into bed and that’s it.” There isn’t a sense of mutuality at all. Slide41:  F – “I think what is pleasureful, what’s desirable - it’s the sharing of the power, or the absence of the power, totally. I feel like I’m more attracted to women, on a Kinsey scale but the characteristics of people that I find pleasureful and the things that I desire are not strictly female. I just happen to either find them in women more because of the ways in which women are allowed to be more flexible, or I’m not in the right town to find enough sweet guys.” Male; not about balance of power:  Male; not about balance of power M- “It’s so funny to listen to you, because you’re so much into power, and I’m not at all. It’s so neat to hear that perspective. I think as far as pleasure, I think of comfort. I don’t think so much of balance of power, I just think of what people provide; it’s beyond characteristics, it’s beyond what realm of knowledge someone is familiar with. It’s just—balance. And feeling comfortable with that balance.” Relational Social Constructionism:  Relational Social Constructionism These data suggest that gender/sexual identity isn’t about biology or essence; it’s produced through culturally mediated interactions with others. Illustrate how those in dissident or marginalized communities see themselves in relation to normative expectations Self-other differentiation, binaries, membership categories Self-Other Differentiation:  Self-Other Differentiation F – (the Christian right). On one hand, I feel sorry for them, that they’re a dying breed, but I also feel terribly overcome with anxiety about my generation. I feel troubled about our generation. I feel like it’s a strong part of the counter-movement is our generation, the kids our age. Boundary practice:  Boundary practice F- “I can’t stand…the dominator/protector, the beer and tits guys. Guys with that mentality. I just can’t stand to be around them. I don’t want to see them. I stereotype them based on looks and everything. I try to find a person to have relationship with that doesn’t fit into either of the boxes. But it’s hard. I meet a lot more girls who don’t fit into the boxes than I do guys.” See tug and pull of old patterns:  See tug and pull of old patterns F- “I think there needs to be a disclaimer - because you can have that connection with someone, have a really incredible experience, and be with them physically, emotionally, mentally, all at the same time, and then still, because of whatever, because of their frame of mind, because of how they grew up, because of the boxes, because of labels and stereotypes, a month later they turn out to be just like everyone else you’ve met. And all of a sudden, they’re not there emotionally, mentally, physically, at all.” Relation to normative expectations:  Relation to normative expectations M- “I know I’m not part of the norm, but am affected by the norm, and trying to understand that… Slightly enlightened, critically thinking. Still heavily influenced by male stereotypes and rebelling against many of those while still looking to identify where they live and exist within me.” Directions for research:  Directions for research Additional data collection – more diversity in sample, ethnically and in terms of gender and sexual identities. Additional questions – how do traditionally identified young people negotiate these identities? References:  References Butler, J. (1993). Bodies that matter: On the discursive limits of “sex.” New York: Rutledge. Connell, R. W. (1995). Masculinities. Berkeley: University of California Press. Crane, B. & Crane-Seeber, J. (2003). The four boxes of gendered sexuality: Good girl/bad girl & tough guy/sweet guy. In Heasley, R. & Crane, B. (Ed.). Sexual lives: A reader on the theories and realities of human sexualities, New York: McGraw-Hill. Hill Collins, P. (1990). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness & the politics of empowerment. Boston: Unwin Hymnan. Lorbeer, J. (2005). Breaking the bowls: Degendering and feminist change. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. Savin-Williams, R. C. (2005). The new gay teenager. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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