Homosocial relations between men have been widely discussed in feminist research. Men’s friendships, more specifically, have been regarded as double-edged by feminists – relations where sexism and homophobia might be re/produced, or where new, caring and relationship-oriented masculine positions can be developed. In my doctoral thesis I use individual and pair interviews with men to investigate meaning making processes and negotiations regarding love, vulnerability, touch, homoeroticism, homophobia and power in friendships among well-educated, urban, white men with positive attitudes towards gender-equality and feminism. In this paper I focus on the interview interaction and discuss “doings” of friendship, gender and power between me, a female PhD-student, and the male interviewees.
Scrutinizing meta-information, like the interviewees’ reasons for participating in the project, I discuss the temporary intimacy of interviewing, and the gendered emotional work performed by both me and the interviewees during our interaction. I use intersectional theories to discuss processes of inclusion and exclusion, highlighting that the many similarities between myself and the interviewees (along the lines of class, education and race) sometimes lead to a temporary, friendship-like intimacy between us. At other times the interviews turn into troubling situations where power and privilege are reproduced, and which question the view of the researcher as always having the “upper hand” during the research process. Well-known “axes of difference” like gender, sexuality, class, race and age are invoked together with subtle, micro-political situational factors.
A better understanding of men’s friendships deepens the knowledge about which subject positions, relationships and feelings that are made im/possible and un/available when it comes to friendships between men, but friendship, gender and power should not only be seen as subject matter but also as parts of ongoing, situational and interactional methodological and meta-methodological processes, that can provide insight into the micro-politics of doing research with and about men.