RESISTANCE TO STEREOTYPES OF MASCULINITY IN BOYS’ FRIENDSHIPS DURING EARLY ADOLESCENCE CARLOS E. SANTOS, PH.D. ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY
BOYS’ VOICES What do you miss about your best friend?
I miss that he is not here anymore… It’s hard to find someone that’s like him. Why is this friendship important to you?
So that I don’t keep things bottled up to myself… I need [our friendship] in order to live. - Juan, Dominican American, 11 years old
THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES • Relational Theories (e.g., Sullivan, 1953; Gilligan, 1982) • Friendships as a critical context of gender development • Emphasizes resistance as well as accommodation to gender stereotypes and norms (see Anyon, 1984; Brown & Gilligan, 1992; Way, 2011).
• Gender Role Strain Theory (Pleck, 1981) • Gender Intensification Hypothesis (Hill & Lynch, 1983)
RESISTANCE & ACCOMMODATION • Theory and research have suggested that people respond to stereotypes by either resisting or accommodating(Anyon, 1994; Brown & Gilligan, 1992; Ward, 1996; Way, 1998, 2004, in press). • Accommodation: The notion that individuals either consciously or unconsciously adhere to gender stereotypes. • Resistance: The notion that individuals either consciously or unconsciously question, reject, or resist gender stereotypes.
THE MIDDLE SCHOOL YEARS Marks important biological (e.g., pubertal), cognitive (e.g., abstract thinking), as well as social and emotional changes: Peer gender segregation even more pronounced than in earlier years (e.g., Maccoby, 1998). May lead to gender intensification (e.g., in attitudes towards gender roles; Galambos, 2004).
However… a refined capacity for emotional intimacy in close friendships that emerges in late childhood/early adolescence may, implicitly or explicitly, foster resistance to gender intensification (e.g., Sullivan, 1953).
“The development of the need for compeers, for playmates rather like oneself…represents the beginning of…fullblown, psychiatrically defined, love… [When a parent observes a child] find a chum, [a parent] discovers something very different…namely, that a child begins to develop a real sensitivity to what matters to another person” -- Sullivan, 1953, p. 245
STEREOTYPES OF MASCULINITY • Stereotypes form a part of the macro context for social and emotional development (García-Coll et al., 1996; Spencer, 1991; Way, 2011).
• Stereotypes about what it means to be a man include at least three expectations: • Emotional stoicism: Linked to the onset of alexythimia—a condition marked by an intense inability to express feelings with words (see Levant et al., 2003, for reviews).
• Autonomy: Linked to inability to seek help when needed (e.g., Addis & Mahalik, 2003; Mansfield et al, 2005). • Physical toughness: Linked to various types of exaggerated and maladaptive forms of aggression (see Pleck, Sonenstein, Ku & Burbridge, 1996, for reviews). • …there are certainly others, but these three are fairly well represented in the developmental literature.
RESISTANCE & ADJUSTMENT Resistance
to stereotypes of masculinity has been
◦ Adaptive coping styles (Blazina et al., 2005; Wester et al., 2006). ◦ Lower anxiety & depression, higher self esteem (Cournoyer & Mahalik, 1995; Good et al., 1995). ◦ Reduced risk for violence, aggression and delinquency (Feder, Levant, & Dean, 2007; Kimmel & Mahler, 2003; Klein, 2006; Lopez & Emmer, 2002; Poynting & Donaldson, 2005). ◦ Positive attitudes about sexual minorities (Frosh, Phoenix, & Pattman, 2001; Nayak & Kehily, 1996). ◦ Increased help seeking (Marcell, Ford, Pleck, & Sonenstein, 2007). ◦ Reduced risky sexual behaviors (Pleck et al., 2004).
SCHOLARLY & POP. LITERATURE • Scholarly… • Activity-oriented, void of intimacy, disclosure and vulnerability in the scholarly literature on friendships (Belle, 1989; Buhrmester & Furman, 1987).
• Popular… • Ability to achieve intimacy and be emotionally attuned to self and others undermined by pressures to conform to stereotypes of masculinity (Brannon, 1976; Levant, 1995; Pollack, 1998).
OPERATIONAL DEFINITION • Resistance to emotional stoicism
• Resisting expectations of being invulnerable and emotionally stoic.
• Resistance to autonomy
• Resisting the notion that boys are expected to make decisions and do things on their own.
• Resistance to physical toughness
• Resisting the notion that boys are expected to be or are inherently tough or aggressive.
INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES IN RESISTANCE • Racial/ethnic minorities • Influence of stereotypes that carry racialized as well as gendered connotations (e.g., hypermasculinity in African American boys, see Cunningham & Mueiner, 2004).
• Social class • Influence of stereotypes of low income boys : “tough” or gang-bangers (see MacLeod, 1995). • Less social privilege (see Barker, 1998).
• Immigrant status • Difficulties in assuming bicultural identity among boys (see Suarez-Orozco & Qin-Hilliard, 2006).
CORRELATES OF RESISTANCE • Theory and research underscore important connections across family relationships and friendships (Sullivan, 1953; Buhrmester, 1992; Updegraff, McHale & Crouter, 2002). • Consistent with a social learning model (Bussey & Bandura, 1999), boys might learn and apply relational skills from emotionally supportive relationships with parents, siblings and peers to their friendships. • Relationships that are characterized by emotional expression, intimacy and love may serve as a model from which boys can base other relationships in their lives (Bowlby, 1969; Ainsworth & Bowlby, 1989).
STUDY GOALS • Aim #1 - within-person changes in resistance during middle school. • Aim #2 - between-person changes in resistance during middle school. • Aim #3 - longitudinal association between resistance, family and peer support during middle school. • Aim #4 - longitudinal association between resistance and psychological well being during middle school.
SAMPLE • N = 426 boys (recruited from six public middle schools in urban northeast city) • 3 time points: Spring of 6th, 7th and 8th grade. • Parental levels of education: • 27% of parents had a high school education or less, 11% had some college or vocational school education (but never graduated), and 62% were college graduates.
% of sample
Is participant U.S. born? % Yes
African American (N=84)
Puerto Rican (N=40)
Chinese American (N=91)
European American (N=114)
Other race/eth. (N=26)
Overall sample (N=426)
ANALYTIC PLAN Individual growth modeling
(Singer & Willett, 2003) using I/C STATA v10.0.
• Designed to explore longitudinal data on individuals over time. • Allows the inclusion of all participants in the estimation even in incomplete and unbalanced designs. • Linear model was applied since a significant number of participants had two or three data points (Singer & Willett, 2003).
MEASURES • Family support: Network of Relationships Inventory (NRI; Furman and Buhrmester,1985). Three subscales were used: mother support, father support, and close sibling support. • Peer support: Perceived Social Support Scale for Friends (PSS-FR; Procidano and Heller, 1983). • Depression: Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI; Kovacs, 1992).
MASCULINITY • Masculinity: Masculinity Beliefs in Friendships Inventory (MBF; Santos, 2010). Three subscales were used: emotional stoicism, autonomy and physical toughness. • Validated using a multigroup SEM factor analysis (with race/ethnicity as the grouping factor). • Indicated that measure had 3 factors as expected. • Concurrent validity: Each factor was associated with self esteem (Rosenberg, 1965) in the expected direction. • Convergent validity: Each factor was associated with Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory (Mahalik et al., 2003). • More details in Santos (2010)
RESULTS 1: WITHIN-PERSON Trajectories of resistance to norms of masculinity from Time 1 to Time 3 (6th to 8th grade) FIXED EFFECTS Resistance to autonomy Intercept 2.73** (S.E. = 0.04) Slope -0.06* (S.E. = 0.03) Resistance to physical toughness Intercept 3.32** (S.E. = 0.03) Slope -0.12** (S.E. = 0.04) Resistance to emotional stoicism Intercept 2.61** (S.E. = 0.03) Slope -0.04 (S.E. = 0.02)
BETWEEN-PERSON CHANGE: ETHNIC AND RACIAL DIFFERENCES • Autonomy
• Puerto Rican boys (β = -0.40, S.E. = 0.15, p < 0.05) reported lower levels of resistance to autonomy than European American boys at T1.
• Physical toughness
• African American boys (β = -0.57, S.E. = 0.12, p <0.001) & Dominican American boys (β = -0.26, S.E. = 0.12, p = 0.03), and Chinese American boys ((β = 0.43, S.E. = 0.17, p < 0.05), reported lower levels of resistance to physical toughness at T1.
• Emotional stoicism
• No significant ethnic differences
RESULTS 3 & 4: LONGITUDINAL ASSOCIATIONS • Results of a multivariate growth analysis revealed: • a positive association between trajectories of boys’ perceptions of mother support and trajectories of boys’ resistance to physical toughness (β = 0.21, S.E. = 0.08, p < 0.05). • a positive association between trajectories of boys’ perceptions of peer support and trajectories of boys’ resistance to autonomy (β = 0.03, S.E. = 0.01, p = 0.01). • a positive association between boys’ perceptions of peer support and their resistance to emotional stoicism (β = 0.04, S.E. = 0.01, p < 0.001).
RESULTS: DEPRESSION • negative association between trajectories of boys’ resistance to physical toughness in their friendships and trajectories of boys’ depression (β = -0.09, S.E. = 0.03, p < 0.05). • negative association between trajectories of boys’ resistance to autonomy in their friendships and trajectories of boys’ depression (β = -0.10, S.E. = 0.03, p < 0.01). • negative association between trajectories of boys’ resistance to emotional stoicism in their friendships and trajectories of boys’ depression (β = -0.13, S.E. = 0.04, p < 0.01).
SUMMARY • Middle school boys are resisting stereotypes of masculinity particularly during sixth grade • Decline in reports of resistance to stereotypes of masculinity.
• Some ethnic variation in resistance; but few • Mother & peer support significant predictors of resistance • Important links to adjustment and well being
A special thank you to our participants, their families, school staff, and teachers.
Thank you to all of the students and staff of the Center for Research on Culture, Development and Education (CRCDE) at NYU.
This research is funded by the National Science Foundation, the W.T. Grant Foundation, and NYU.
AFRICAN AMERICAN BOYS & Significant withinRESISTANCE group variation – many were resisting. May be less likely to resist stereotypes compared to whites: Double standard of stereotypes associated with race & gender -- to be African American and a boy means to be hypermasculine in our culture (Morgan, 1999). A response to the larger social and historical macro contexts that have shaped the African American male experience including poverty, racism, and violence (e.g., Cunningham, 1999).
PUERTO RICAN BOYS & RESISTANCE Reveal
significant within group variation in levels of resistance across stereotypes. Most stereotypes were resisted at the aggregate level (see Way, Santos & Cordero, in press) except autonomy. May be due to: Double standard that frames Latino boys’ identity as machista. In NYC, Puerto Ricans have been shown to experience social power relative to other groups (see Way, Santos, & Niwa, 2006). Such power may increase desires for autonomy.
Dominican boys & Resistance Reveal
significant within group variation in levels of resistance across stereotypes. Most stereotypes were resisted at the aggregate level (see Way, Santos & Cordero, in press) except in physical toughness. This may be due to: Bearing the racialized and gendered stereotypes of being Latino supplemented by the stigma of being immigrants (see Way, in press).
CHINESE BOYS & RESISTANCE • Important to examine Chinese boys’ resistance in the context of stereotypes that tend to feminize Asian American boys’ identities (see Chua and Fujino, 1999; Mok, 1998). • May be related to context: • Most Chinese boys were sampled in a predominantly Chinese school which may make racial stereotypes less salient.
WHITE BOYS & RESISTANCE • Resistance among these boys may be related to their majority status in the larger culture.
Viewed as the “standard” (see Connell, 1996)
• Context: • Most were middle to upper class. Resistance may differ among low SES white boys given influence of stereotypes of low income boys as “tough” or “gangbangers” (see MacLeod, 1995).
is needed to further examine the intersections of race, ethnicity, and gender given their theoretical, empirical, and practical implications. ď‚—Studies focusing on ethnic and/or gender differences should focus on why such differences exist. This analysis will inevitably reveal the macro contexts in which they are embedded (e.g., stereotypes about nationality, race, gender).
Published on Nov 4, 2011