In certain social circles in the upper middle class of Buenos Aires it is fairly common for young men to seek their first sexual encounters with sex workers. Often these encounters are encouraged and orchestrated by family members or peers. Based on four months of ethnographic fieldwork this article explores some of the social dynamics at play in such events. Focusing on elements of performance and role playing, the article claims that these visits can be understood as related to the becoming of male sexual selves, drawing on concepts from Victor Turner’s classic theory of rituals (Turner 1969, 1982). The ethnographic material indicates that the search for professional guidance in order to overcome the anxieties associated with the sexual debut; memory of rejection from female peers, and bonding with the male peer group are all important factors that motivated the experiences of the young men, who participated in this research. It is not uncommon in feminist studies to analyze sex work almost solely as an expression of gender inequality and discrimination. By showing how the visits respond to dynamics related both to the male and female peer groups in the local context, it is argued that the visits should also be seen as part of a more pragmatic and practical becoming of a sexual self.
This article investigates the significance of love, sex and relationships for the social becoming of young black, heterosexual men in the context of a South African university campus. The article, which is based on one year of ethnographic fieldwork at the Turfloop Campus of the University of Limpopo, shows that the ways in which young men qualify as men are not only contested and rapidly changing in contemporary South Africa, but also that young men’s sense of their masculine selves vary according to situation and context. From the historical and ethnographic descriptions of the traditions of different ethnic groups in the Southern African region, there is widespread documentation of rites of passage, where adolescent boys spend an extended period of time in a circumcision lodge after which they are considered to be men. Although some students at Turfloop make reference to this definition by evoking the vocabulary of the different stages inherent in the rites of passage in talking about these matters, the larger majority of the male students have not attended these lodges and aspire to other ways of acquiring and exhibiting masculinity. Parting with notions of male dominance promoted in South African HIV/AIDS research, this article therefore makes the case for a situational approach to masculinity. Inspired at the same time by a rethinking of the life stage model in anthropology, it is argued that in the context of this South African university campus the social becoming and social standing of young men have come to be premised primarily on the ability to demonstrate an active love and sex life.
Performing heterosexuality is often a central component in the making of masculinity. Yet queer theory with its critical focus on heterosexuality has not had the same impact on masculinity studies as on other areas of gender studies. This article seeks to contribute to the emerging use of queer theory within critical studies on men and masculinities by examining the production and negotiation of male heterosexuality in Swedish hip hop. This is done through a discourse analysis of a broad sample of Swedish rap lyrics from 1991 to 2011. Analyzing the use of metaphors, rhetorical negotiations and triangles of desire, it is argued that in spite of a dominant heteronormative discourse, signs of male homosocial desire abound. The author suggests that the concept of straight inoculations can be useful in understanding attempts to maintain heterosexuality in an ambiguous terrain.
Drawing on ethnographic work carried out among Mozambican men living in Maputo (the capital of Mozambique), this paper intends to describe how subordinate men from a poor background are reconstructing their masculinity through the explicit sexualization of their self. It has been shown that among poor Mozambican men the lack of money or other material goods is compensated by complex practices and a variety of discourses on sex and sexuality. Sexuality, and its bodily enactment, is then used to reconstruct a powerful sense of manhood, which may take a variety of forms ranging from identification with the norm of the ‘good lover’ to more struggle-based discourses. All of these strategies imply an explicit investment in various forms of ‘bodily capital’, which may lead to the building up of a phallocentric masculinity, though women’s sexual agency is not ignored. In male discourse, a value is attributed to goods, whether material or symbolic, which function discursively according to an imagery of economic exchange as if the body were a commodity, a discursively constructed capital of manhood. Through a number of ethnographic examples, I will contend that we can consider masculinity as a complex structure of capitals that can be enacted in different spheres and with different meanings. As a result, different power hierarchies can be reconstructed and a degree of plurality may be incorporated into what we consider hegemonic masculinity. Sexuality and sex, while performed through a bodily hexis and discourses on power and control, are at the core of these processes and represent a vital constituent of the male self.
It is well documented in biomedical literature that impotence is a common complication of diabetes. What has received much less attention is how diabetes challenges male gender identity and how the illness interferes in intimate matters. Drawing on empirical findings from an anthropological fieldwork conducted among men and women who are living with type 2 diabetes in conditions of urban poverty in Northeast Brazil, this article examines how the men’s illness experiences are interwoven with the changes they concomitantly experienced in their sexuality. By examining the disruptiveness of diabetes in the social and gendered lives of men, it is explored how diabetes challenges both the domestic and public positions of men and how they in an attempt to avoid this try to resist being ill, which leads to contradictions in their diabetes self-care with dire consequences.