Using Connell’s masculinity theory to understand the way in which ex-gang-involved men coped with childhood domestic violence

Levell, Jade (2020). Using Connell’s masculinity theory to understand the way in which ex-gang-involved men coped with childhood domestic violence. Journal of Gender-Based Violence (Early access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1332/239868020x15857301876812

Abstract

This article seeks to foreground enacted masculinity in the narratives of men who experienced both childhood domestic violence and abuse, and gang involvement. This is demonstrated through findings from a small yet in-depth research project, where life-history-inspired narrative interviews were taken from men who had experienced both childhood domestic violence and abuse, and gang involvement. The narratives were analysed using Connell’s theory and analytic frame for masculinities to explore the differing masculine identities that emerged in the narratives. By placing a focus on the masculine performances in the men’s lives, this study identified three distinct masculinity performances that were enacted during domestic violence and abuse, and in response to their experience, namely, subordinate masculinity, vulnerable masculinity and protest masculinity. Drawing from Connell’s work, I demonstrate the way in which these identities were interlinked with experience of domestic violence and abuse in childhood. The coping mechanisms that some participants engaged in appeared to relate to the enactment of violence in order to feel an achieved successful masculinity of their own. Ultimately, this article proposes the need for a greater understanding and consideration of masculinities when working with male child survivors of domestic violence and abuse.<br /><br />Key messages<br /><ul><li>This paper focuses on the narratives of men who experienced domestic violence and abuse in childhood and who were also gang-involved.</li><br /><li>Connell’s masculinity theory is used to understand the different masculine identities which were discussed by the participants.</li><br /><li>This paper draws on the concept of there being multiple masculinities that individuals can experience throughout the life-course.</li></ul>

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