Critical Positive Masculinity

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DOI: 10.4471/MCS.2013.28
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Abstract
Although theorists like Connell (1995) have emphasised diversity in men and masculinities, there remains a tendency to present masculinity in singular terms as an assemblage of toxic traits, constructing men as ‘damaged and damage doing’ (Mac an Ghaill & Haywood, 2012). However, an emergent body of work suggests men are able to resist or define traditional norms to negotiate a more ‘positive’ construction of masculinity, e.g., conducive to health. Thus the present article makes the case for introducing a new perspective within the study of men and masculinities: Critical Positive Masculinity. Influenced by the field of positive psychology, this perspective draws together work showing the potential for men to find more constructive ways of doing masculinity, including a series of articles on men adopting new masculine practices through involvement with meditation. However, drawing on the Critical Studies on Men approach, the new perspective still seeks to problematize men and gendered power relations, as even ostensibly ‘positive’ forms of masculinity can have deleterious consequences for marginalised groups. Critical positive masculinity offers a fresh perspective that is neither fatalistically negative nor naively optimistic about the possibility for positive change in men.
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Critical Positive Masculinity
Tim Lomas1
1) University of East London
Date of publication: June 21st, 2013
To cite this article: Lomas,T. (2013). Critical Positive Masculinity.
Masculinties and Social Change,2(2), 167-193.doi: 10.4471/MCS.2013.28
To link this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.4471/MCS.2013.28
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  • ... Meanwhile, the second tendency is related to the call for antihomophobic and anti-sexist values (O'Neil, 2015), with fewer emotional restrictions (Lomas, 2013), and with the development of new models of paternity and assignment of roles and responsibilities (Johansson & Ottemo, 2013). These processes have been associated with terms such as positive masculinity (Duncanson, 2015) or inclusive masculinity (Anderson, 2008). ...
    ... Peacock and Barker (2014) point out that many men have begun to understand that sexist behavior is counterproductive for them, which is promoting the appearance of organizations and men's groups around the world that advocate for new forms of masculinity. Furthermore, Lomas (2013) raises that it is possible that many of the elements of positive masculinities are in some contexts already part of hegemonic masculinity. ...
    ... On the contrary, the profiles of various users show them as relatively open emotionally, with a preference for relationships based on friendship ties and the desire to share different dimensions of daily life with a woman. These results could reflect what is suggested by Lomas (2013) in terms of the fact that in determined contexts the hegemonic model of masculinity excludes features of the discursive forms 210 Espinar & Ocampo -Ways of Masculinity in Online Dating of traditional masculinity, giving rise to more fraternal identity styles. Certainly, we can see a relative adoption of some characteristics of the so called positive masculinities, although this is reflected primarily in the absence of several elements related to traditional masculinity and not so much in the explicit reference to issues such as equality between men and women. ...
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  • ... Meanwhile, the second tendency is related to the call for antihomophobic and anti-sexist values (O'Neil, 2015), with fewer emotional restrictions (Lomas, 2013), and with the development of new models of paternity and assignment of roles and responsibilities (Johansson & Ottemo, 2013). These processes have been associated with terms such as positive masculinity (Duncanson, 2015) or inclusive masculinity (Anderson, 2008). ...
    ... Peacock and Barker (2014) point out that many men have begun to understand that sexist behavior is counterproductive for them, which is promoting the appearance of organizations and men's groups around the world that advocate for new forms of masculinity. Furthermore, Lomas (2013) raises that it is possible that many of the elements of positive masculinities are in some contexts already part of hegemonic masculinity. ...
    ... On the contrary, the profiles of various users show them as relatively open emotionally, with a preference for relationships based on friendship ties and the desire to share different dimensions of daily life with a woman. These results could reflect what is suggested by Lomas (2013) in terms of the fact that in determined contexts the hegemonic model of masculinity excludes features of the discursive forms 210 Espinar & Ocampo -Ways of Masculinity in Online Dating of traditional masculinity, giving rise to more fraternal identity styles. Certainly, we can see a relative adoption of some characteristics of the so called positive masculinities, although this is reflected primarily in the absence of several elements related to traditional masculinity and not so much in the explicit reference to issues such as equality between men and women. ...
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    The analysis of masculinity has been a topic of growing interest in recent decades. Its study has incorporated a wide and diverse range of research areas and themes, including the representation of gender relations and identities on the Internet. Specifically, this article concerns the research area related to online dating websites and aims to compare the principal current tendencies related to identity -as provided by research on masculinity- with the way that men present themselves on two Spanish dating websites: Meetic.es and AdoptaUnTio.es. These types of virtual spaces have specific characteristics that facilitate the analysis of the masculine ideal among their users; or at least the characteristics that these men consider attractive to women. This research was carried out through a qualitative analysis supported by Atlas-ti. The principal results highlight the presence of traces of the so called egalitarian masculinity within predominant forms of traditional masculinity, characterized by a minimal process of reflection and introspection on the part of users of these websites.
  • ... Por el contrario, varias presentaciones optan por una relativa apertura emocional y manifiestan su preferencia por relaciones basadas en lazos de amistad y en el deseo de compartir con una mujer diferentes dimensiones de la vida cotidiana. Este hecho podría estar reflejando lo planteado por Lomas (2013), en cuanto a que, en determinados contextos, el modelo hegemónico está excluyendo rasgos de las formas discursivas de la masculinidad tradicional. ...
    ... , que se caracterizaría por una tendencia hacia relaciones más igualitarias entre mujeres y hombres, valores anti-homófobos, una apertura emocional, el reparto de roles y responsabilidades y nuevos modelos de paternidad(O'Neil, 2015;Lomas, 2013; Johansson y Ottemo, 2013) Duncanson (2015) plantea que la masculinidad positiva es tanto una adaptación del modelo hegemónico para mantener la supremacía masculina en la sociedad, como una etapa transitoria dentro de un proceso de erradicación de las jerarquías de género, que estaría favoreciendo el desarrollo de una serie de masculinidades híbridas. De esta forma, Lomas (2013) concluye que es posible que muchos de los elementos de la masculinidad positiva, en algunos contextos, sean ya parte de la masculinidad hegemónica. ...
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    El análisis de las masculinidades ha ido incorporando una amplia diversidad de campos de investigación, incluyendo, entre los mismos, la formación y expresión de identidades, roles y relaciones de género a través de Internet. Este artículo se centra en un espacio virtual concreto, el conformado por las páginas web de citas. Estos espacios presentan particularidades específicas que pueden ser útiles para el análisis del ideal de masculinidad que tienen sus usuarios o, al menos, de las características masculinas que éstos creen que las mujeres consideran atractivas. La investigación se ha desarrollado a través de un análisis temático cualitativo de una muestra de perfiles generados por hombres usuarios de dos páginas web de citas españolas: Meetic.es y AdoptaUnTio.es. Entre los resultados obtenidos, destaca la presencia de algunos rasgos característicos de las denominadas masculinidades positivas, junto con componentes tradicionales de la masculinidad hegemónica, caracterizados, estos últimos, por un escaso trabajo de introspección por parte de los usuarios.
  • ... Indeed, in Lomas et al.'s (2013) research with male meditators, they found that participants had been able to negotiate more adaptive forms of masculinitycharacterised by features like emotional expressiveness and abstinence from alcoholwhich were beneficial to their wellbeing. Lomas (2013) summarised these findings under the rubric 'critical positive masculinity': positive in the sense of conducive to wellbeing; critical in the sense that these men were challenging or circumventing traditional masculine norms. ...
    ... It is possible that something similar was happening in the present study, in which the boys were using discourses of controlprovided by the context of a mindfulness-based interventionto legitimise a non-conventional masculine performance involving emotional connection and agility. If so, this is in stark contrast with the kind of essentialist perspective that views males generallyand at-risk adolescents in particularas inherently troubled and emotionally disconnected/illiterate. Rather, the results here align with recent constructionist theorising that emphasises the ability of males to refashion their way of 'doing' masculinity in more adaptive ways, as highlighted in the 'critical positive masculinity' paradigm (Lomas, 2013). Moreover, the results are particularly noteworthy, given that the specific male population studied here is generally regarded as especially vulnerable and/or challenging. ...
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  • ... Poverty has been linked with several problematic behavioral outcomes in men (Lomas 2013). While more women than men suffer poverty globally, its impacts on men are no less deleterious. ...
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  • ... Evidence implies that attention to gender-bound norms, like positive masculinity, may improve health outcomes (Arciniega, Anderson, Tovar-Blank, & Tracey, 2008). The concept of positive masculinity rests on the potential for masculinity to be expressed in constructive ways that have positive impacts on physical, emotional, and social, well being (Englar-Carlson & Kiselica, 2013;Lomas, 2013). The related Latino-bound cultural tenet of Caballerismo (in reference to a caballero, or gentleman), is comprised of culturally and gender-bound attributes related to the importance of family, social responsibility, and emotional connectedness. ...
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