Positive Opposition: Narratives of Anti-Hegemonic Masculinity Performance
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We are in a cultural moment that features significant conversations about the meaning of, problems with, and possibilities for, modern masculinity performance. Among researchers and theorists approaching this conversation from feminist perspectives, there is substantial agreement about the importance of supporting men in resisting patriarchal models of hegemonic masculinity, but limited articulation of what alternative models of masculinity performance might be. In this paper, I seek to explore positive characteristics of anti-hegemonic masculinity as they are already being performed, while attempting to maintain a strong grounding in feminist values and analysis. Utilizing the principles of narrative inquiry, I engage in semi-structured interviews with two men, who identify as pro-feminist or feminist-aligned, about their performances of masculinity. Based on these interviews, I present a retelling of our shared journey of masculinity, identifying and exploring four principle values which emerge from and guide our gender performances (awareness, acceptance, transgressing boundaries, and leadership). I hope that by contributing to the literature on positive characteristics of anti-hegemonic masculinity performance from feminist or feminist-aligned positions, this inquiry will provide useful support and inspiration both to counsellors engaging with male clients, and for men seeking to resist the influence of patriarchy and who are interested in developing more just and fulfilling ways of being.