12 October 2009

'' Getting pissed is really laddy ''

Discourse analytic research on masculinity has produced some interesting and insightful understandings of male-bonding talk, and/or talk around alcohol related activities. These and other contributions have helped demonstrate the dependence of "hegemonic" masculinities on the discursive subordination of the "other", notably women and gay men…

In general, Western cultures advertise (excessive) alcohol usage as an exclusively male activity. The consumption of beer (in particular) with fellow males seems to be a potent resource for the enactment of conventional masculine identities. As Landrine et al suggest, "drunkenness may be an aspect of the concept of masculinity".

In the sociological literature, the consumption of alcohol by (predominately young, working-class) men is usually associated with ideals of masculinity such as toughness, endurance and aggression, both verbal and physical…

In psychoanalytic terms, unconscious male anxieties and desires are likely to surface in the group situation - a simultaneous wish for and resentment of affection from others. These competing desires of belonging and autonomy can be seen in terms of masculinity. There are deep (unconscious) feelings of inadequacy (around comparative stature, performance etc) in the presence of other men (originally the castrating father) who are therefore regarded as rivals and kept at a distance (intimacy is avoided)…

The consumption of alcohol may also serve to disinhibit the (insecure) aggression directed at "outsiders" as well as enhancing feelings of companionship…The humour-oppression anxiety qualities of the discourse could also be connected to 1990's culture, often viewed from within the academy and beyond as "pro-feminist", even "emasculating". Indeed, in the present case, one of the main reasons for these lads looking forward to and relishing all-male drinking sessions concerned the opportunities afforded for presenting perspectives felt to be disallowed in everyday, public contexts…The all-male drinking context can be seen as an "outlet" for "letting off steam" against traditional heterosexual male targets.

Brendan Gough and Gareth Edwards in the Sociological Review, Vol 46, No 3

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