Men, Sex and Homosociality: How Bonds Between Men Shape their Sexual Relations with Women (Journal article)
Male-male social bonds have a powerful influence on the sexual relations of some young heterosexual men. Qualitative analysis among young men aged eighteen to twenty-six in Canberra, Australia, documents the homosocial organization of men’s heterosexual relations. Homosociality organizes men’s sociosexual relations in at least four ways. For some of these young men, male-male friendships take priority over male-female relations, and platonic friendships with women are dangerously feminizing. Sexual activity is a key path to masculine status, and other men are the audience, always imagined and sometimes real, for one’s sexual activities. Heterosexual sex itself can be the medium through which male bonding is enacted. Last, men’s sexual storytelling is shaped by homosocial masculine cultures. While these patterns were evident particularly among young men in the highly homosocial culture of a military academy, their presence also among other groups suggests the wider influence of homosociality on men’s sexual and social relations.
Citation: Flood, M. (2008) Men, Sex, and Homosociality: How bonds between men shape their sexual relations with women. Men and Masculinities, 10(3), April: 339-359.
Boys’ and young men’s lives are shaped by powerful social and sexual relations, which limit their ability to form healthy relationships and to nurture their own and their sexual partners’ sexual and reproductive health. Typical social constructions of manhood and masculine sexuality inform males’ risk-taking behaviour, constrain their access to health services and thwart health promotion efforts. Such constructions increase the likelihood of boys’ and men’s participation in unplanned pregnancy, disease transmission, and sexual violence.
This paper outlines key aspects of the current ordering of young men’s sociosexual lives. I focus on practices, discourses and relations of gender and sexuality among boys and young men which shape their sexual behaviour, social interactions and sexual relationships. These patterns influence boys’ and young men’s involvements in a range of health issues, including contraception and pregnancy, bodily health, unsafe sex and disease transmission, violence, and sexual and familial relationships more broadly. Therefore, in order to understand both health-related behaviour and the possibilities for health promotion among young men, it is crucial to ‘map’ their social and sexual relations. It is to this exercise that I now turn, beginning with a brief explanation of the terms I use.
New formations of sexuality are emerging among young heterosexual men. There are signs of diversity, and flux, in the sexual cultures of such males, shaped by wider shifts in gender and sexual relations. This chapter maps some of the clearest examples of diversity and flux among them, as part of a wider project on young men’s sexual and social relations with women.
Citation: Flood, M. (2008) “Bent Straights: Diversity and flux among heterosexual men.” Intimate Citizenships: Gender, Subjectivity, Politics. Ed. E.H. Oleksy. Routledge.
Around the world, there are growing efforts to involve boys and men in the prevention of violence against women: as participants in education programs, as targets of social marketing campaigns, as policy makers and gatekeepers, and as activists and advocates. Efforts to prevent violence against girls and women now increasingly take as given that they must engage men. While there are dangers in doing so, there also is a powerful feminist rationale for such work. This article provides a review of the variety of initiatives which engage or address men in order to prevent violence against women. It maps such efforts, locating them within a spectrum of prevention activities. Furthermore, the article identifies or advocates effective strategies in work with men to end violence against women.
Most everyday users of pornography are heterosexual men. Looking at, and masturbating to, pornography is the routine practice of large numbers of men. And most of the commercial pornographic industry caters to heterosexual men. These men – and their consumption of pornography – are the subject of a growing body of research. This chapter offers an overview of what we can learn about heterosexual boys’ and young men’s use of pornography, focusing particularly on quantitative studies of the extent, nature and meaning of pornography consumption.
… men’s near monopoly of gun use can be seen as a manifestation of a lifetime’s socialisation into violent expressions of manhood and cultures in which male gun use is regarded as the norm. In times of war, men and boys are actively encouraged and often coerced into taking up the roles of combatants. In countries characterised by violence, war, or high levels of gun possession, young men may use guns as part of a rite of passage from boyhood into manhood. Guns may also be positively associated with manhood in contexts where their use was valued and encouraged as part of a widely supported liberation.
The report, Where Men Stand: Men' s roles in ending violence against women was launched in Australia on November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the focus of the White Ribbon Campaign. The report is a stocktake, a reckoning, of where men are at when it comes to violence against women. The report focuses on four key dimensions of men’s relations to violence against women. (See below for the full report, in PDF.)
Sexual harassment will only disappear when men take an active role in ending it. Most men don’t harass, and most don’t condone it. But sexual harassment is largely a problem of men’s behaviour, against women and other men.
WHO Policy Brief: Policy Approaches to Involving Men and Boys in Achieving Gender Equality and Health Equity
Work with men has demonstrated significant potential in contributing to building gender equality and improving the health of women and men. However, most work with men has tended to be local in scale and limited in scope. To be more widely effective, that is to transform the pervasive gender inequalities which characterize many societies globally – efforts to transform men’s behaviour require to be significantly scaled up. Policy processes and mechanisms are key elements in any effort to engage men and boys in achieving gender equality.
I focus in the following on men’s roles in sexual exploitation and violence in prostitution and their prevention. I focus particularly on men’s involvements as buyers of commercial sex – in other words, on male ‘prostitute users’ or ‘clients’ or ‘Johns’, on the sexual violence and coercion involved here, and on how to prevent these.