Development of a Masculine Identity
For many years now there have been studies conducted on feminism and it is developed through youth. But in the past two decade there has been more research focusing on the development of a masculine identity through throughout childhood and adolescence. There are many factors that effect the development of a masculine identity, but due to my childhood experiences I am especially interested in the role youth sports play in the development of a masculine identity. Throughout my childhood I can remember playing tee-ball and youth football from the time I was six throughout my high school years, and I do feel like, especially during my high school years that sports were a big part of what made up my identity, and gave me an idea of what is socially expected of the "male role" in our society. In 1957 Hacker gave his own ideas on the male role and his definition of a sex role:
Sex roles where understood as patterns of social expectation, norms for the behavior of men and women, which were transmitted to youth in a process of 'socialization.' In effect social behavior was explained as a massive display of conformity- which somehow seemed inappropriate in the 1950's. A great amount of thin paper and pencil research was produced around this idea. Nevertheless the idea of a 'male role' also led to some intelligent studies of changing gender expectations for men, and difficulties faced by men and boys in conforming to the norms.
By male role I am talking about the idea that men are supposed to be strong, powerful, violent, competitive, and victory oriented, all of which are embodied in the sports world whether it be in golf or football. Robert Connell stated this in 1995 when he said "In historically recent times sport has become the leader definer of masculinity in mass culture." And this is evident in the heroes young boys generally look at as role models and attempt to model themselves after in some way. Which leads me to ask, what is it about sports that males are drawn to? And does it really effect masculinity that much, or are other forces such as family or peer group the initiating factors that lead a child to play sports and become more masculine? Or could it be that sports have become a "primary masculinity-validating activity" (Dubbert 1979)?
From personal experience I can remember as a child playing for the shear enjoyment of the game and spending time with my friends. But as males age and continue to participate in sports the sports tends to change from a form of relaxation and enjoyment with friends to more of a career or business associated activity (Connell 2000). And with this comes the added pressure to perform and if the male is a talented athlete it can become and identity defining. But there are also other elements of sports that many young males could be attracted to. For example, in Masculinities Connell (1995) gave the example of a young man by the name of Rios who came to...