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Hugs, lads and homies: Intimacies, subjectivities and feminisms in men’s friendships
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Centre for Gender Research.
2017 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

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 (Messner, 1997). In a Swedish context, however, friendship research is a small field, and feminist research about friendships between men is very scarce.

In my doctoral thesis I use individual and pair interviews with men to investigate meaning making processes and negotiations regarding 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 not only on the political implications of the interviewees’ discussions about friendship between men, but also on the recurring and explicit referrals to feminism, gender-equality and a need for change among men and men’s friendships made during the interviews. I argue that these utterances must be understood as situated in the interactional, gendered, classed and national context of the interview, where my role as a gender researcher is highly relevant (cf. Egeberg Holmgren, 2011). They constitute expressions of frustration with what is perceived as the status quo and of longings for change, both on a collective and personal level, but can also be seen as positioning the interviewees as exceptionally emotional and relationship-oriented (Swedish) men (cf. Nordberg, 2005; Gottzén & Jonsson, 2012). Various feminist discourses were visible, predominantly liberal feminist ones, together with negotiations about homophobia and homoeroticism. The hug as an embodied and discursive practice took on a special significance, just like laddishness, and these discussions formed part of multi-faceted, gendered negotiations of subjectivity, intimacy and power.

The stories about friendships between men as political are ambiguous and highlight important tensions, the better understanding of which deepens knowledge about processes where subject positions, relationships, feelings and attachments are made im/possible and un/available. Ultimately, a better understanding of men’s friendships may open up for new ways of imagining and exploring potential intimacies and solidarities between men but also present important tools to problematize and scrutinize these from a feminist perspective.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
National Category
Gender Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-324781OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-324781DiVA: diva2:1111449
Conference
Fourth Nordic conference on research on men and masculinities, "Men and Masculinities: Politics, Policy, Praxis", Örebro, June 14-16, 2017.
Available from: 2017-06-19 Created: 2017-06-19 Last updated: 2017-06-19

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Citation style
  • apa
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