Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
Mike (AD) often noticed that “kids who come new in ninth grade or seventh grade
from middle class environments can't believe some of the things that are said, which
kids who have been here for a while are like, 'He's just joking.'” The students at Rock-
port often disciplined institutional and cultural values through the way they joked and
insulted each other. The student researchers defined casual teasing about race, ethnicity,
class, gender, religion, and sexual identity as forms of verbal bullying. Deconstructing
the tacit assumptions often found in such “neutral” places as humor, ridiculing or play-
fulinsultssuchascallingsomeone“afag”or“gay”or“agirl”forcedustoaskwhatlies
beneath such a statement, who is disadvantaged by it, who is empowered by it?
Rockport students' (and some faculty's) use of homophobic, antifeminine, or miso-
gynistic insults (among others like race and class) helped to impose the boundaries of
who's in and who's out, what is acceptable and what is unacceptable, who is “normal”
and who is marginalized. These insults contributed in subtle and not so subtle ways to
marginalizing women and people who identify as gay by defining them as something
undesirable, negative, or less than whole. These insults and jokes were forms of “civil-
ized oppression” (Harvey, 1999) and helped to directly (re) produce a local culture em-
bedded in hegemonic stereotypical values.
Controlling School Space
At Rockport, not all masculine performances are equally valued. Boys gain or lose
social standing depending on how they are positioned with gendered norms. It does
not come as a surprise, given the vast amount of “men and masculinities” literature,
that some of the most valued qualities of manhood at Rockport are those embodying
strength, individuality, skill, aggression, and emotional reserve as well as standing in
distinction to things feminine. Drawing lines between what is masculine and feminine
includes, obviously women but also homosexuality and other subordinated versions of
masculinity. Hegemonic masculinity is not only about masculine qualities, it is also
aboutpowerandprivilege;thesystemicadvantagesandopportunitiesgiventomen(par-
ticularly wealthy, white, American, straight men) at the expense of women and margin-
alized men (Connell and Messerschmidt 2005). In this final section we explore one of
the most dominant themes in our work: the enactment of elite masculinity training at
Rockport as drawn in contrast to homosexuality.
As described in the previous section, a common putdown among the students as de-
scribed both by the student researchers and the faculty researchers was to call someone
a “girl” or “gay.” Mary (FR) explained, “Everybody's, 'you're a girl' or 'you're gay.'
'You're a girl' or 'you're gay' that is the worst possible put down.” I asked one of the
only openly gay students (Jason) at Rockport during an interview why homophobic in-
sults were so common among his peers. Jason told me:
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