'When I was a bastard': constructions of maturity in men’s accounts of masculinity

Terry, Gareth and Braun, Virginia (2009). 'When I was a bastard': constructions of maturity in men’s accounts of masculinity. Journal of Gender Studies, 18(2) pp. 165–178.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09589230902812463


Social constructionist work has demonstrated how the performance of heterosexuality for (heterosexual) men is unarguably tied to the construction of their masculine identities. In this article, we draw on Wetherell and Edley’s theorisation of ‘imaginary positions’ as it pertains to masculine identity formation, to make sense of 15 New Zealand men’s accounts of sex in long-term heterosexual relationships. Such relationships were constructed as a ‘safe space’ in which to resist a negative (former) imaginary position of the ‘immature self’ and in which to construct a positive (current) position of the ‘loving, enlightened, egalitarian, mature self’. Although this suggests a positive reconstruction of male sexuality in New Zealand (within the context of long-term heterosexual relationships) these positions remain constructed in a manner which relies on traditional masculine notions of independence and autonomy. This emphasises the fluidity of masculinity, and the way in which certain styles become prevalent, while maintaining traditional elements which bolster male power.

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