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Jane F. Gilgun Laura McLeod
Gilgun, Jane F., & Laura McLeod (1999). Gendering violence. Studies in Symbolic Interactionism, 22, 167-193.
Reprinted with permission from Elsevier http://www.elsevier.com
Jane F. Gilgun is professor, School of Social Work, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, 1404 Gortner Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108 USA email@example.com. Phone: 612/ 624-3643. Laura McLeod at the time of this writing was a PhD student, department of anthropology, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
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GENDERING VIOLENCE Tim trained fatherless, prepubescent boys to initiate sex and believed he was participating in mutual relationships. He fantasized about soft skin, hairlessness, and love and marriage with these boys. That he was their social worker and manipulated them with rapt attentiveness, camping trips, and marijuana rarely entered into his thinking. Don's ambition was to be a great lover, and, in his rapes, he ordered his victims to act as if they enjoyed it. Though he knew his rape behaviors were terrifying and humiliating, his victims' experiences were not the point. Their task was to make him feel like a man. Defining his victims as "loose," he believed that rape would not be a big thing for them, anyway. In these accounts, the two men defined who their victims were, acted on their definitions, and conveyed a certitude that they were entitled to enact these extremes of hegemonic masculinity. They invoked, reshaped, and enacted cultural themes and practices that were both idiosyncratic and recognizable as part of Western culture (cf, Denzin, 1995). Their accounts contain numerous illustrations of the intersection of culture and individual agency. In this paper, we sought to identify particularizations of culture in the men's discourse on the violence they had perpetrated. We also experimented with writing ourselves into the analysis. This research "broke our hearts" (Behar, 1996), and we attempted to show that we were not detached observers but deeply upset by the accounts of violence we had struggled to understand.
Gendering Page 3 of 34 GENDER AND VIOLENCE The gendered nature of violence is self-evident: Men are disproportionately represented as perpetrators of all forms of violent acts (Johnson, 1995; Kruttschnitt, 1994). Feminists have taken the lead in placing gender at the center of discussions of violence (cf., Brownmiller,1975; MacKinnon, 1994; Miedzian, 1991; Pence & Paymar, 1993; Rush, 1980; Sanday, 1990; Scully, 1990). For feminists, power and control are the core of male violence. Gender informs power relationships and regulates behaviors within and across race and class (Flax, 1987). For other segments of society, violence as primarily a male phenomenon is taken-for-granted and not problematized (Messerschmidt, 1993; Miedzian, 1991). The intersection of violence, gender, and power is not investigated and thus is marginalized. In this paper, we put the spotlight on gender and violence. We do so by examining the discourse of two white, upper middle class men who were convicted of criminal sexual conduct. In the analysis of these accounts, we examined how these two men invoked, shaped, and enacted several discourses that we identified as gendered and hegemonic. Doing Gender Besides the feminist writings cited earlier, our analysis drew upon concepts of "doing gender" (West & Zimmerman, 1987) and hegemonic masculinity (Connell, 1987, 1990, 1995; Donaldson, 1993; Stacey, 1993). Notions of doing gender derive partially from ethnomethodology and symbolic interactionism, frameworks that focus on human agency within larger social and cultural contexts. (See Holstein & Gubrium, 1994, on ethnomethology and LaRossa & Reitzes, 1993, on symbolic interactionism.) When persons "do gender," they engage in on-going interactional processes in which they invoke, construct, and enact polarized images of the two genders. For West and Zimmerman, these polarizations devalue women and place men in dominant positions.
Gendering Page 4 of 34 Doing gender often involves gender as display, displays that can range from domineering to egalitarian. Gender as display posits that persons enact gender-linked behaviors to meet situational contingencies (Thorne, 1993). Individual enactments of gender are termed genderisms (Goffman, 1977) and build on Cooley's (1902/1956) notion of the looking-glass self. Situated, individual genderisms reflect, reshape, and intersect with larger, more generalized cultural images, beliefs, scripts, and practices. These behaviors are observed by others and by the self, and, in many cases, persons judge themselves and others as adequate or inadequate on the basis of gender-linked behaviors. These culturally-based systems of meanings and practices, therefore, are both descriptive and prescriptive for individuals in particular situations (Deaux & Kite, 1987; Deaux & Major, 1987). Hegemony As a pivotal concept in Gramsci's (1971) Prison Notebooks, hegemony as originally formulated, in the words of Donaldson (1993), is about "the winning and holding of power" and "how the ruling class establishes and maintains its domination," often through destroying other social groups (p. 645). Hegemony involves the impositions of definitions of situations, impositions that control the terms under which events and issues are discussed and interpreted and that construct ideals and standards for making moral judgments (Donaldson, l993). Not every member of ruling classes participates in such activities, but they all benefit. These impositions are done in ways that make them appear "normal" and "natural" to major segments of the population, including those who are subjugated. Hegemonic Masculinity Notions of hegemony are embedded in social structural thinking and thus can be considered unsuitable for the analysis of individual agency and situated contingencies. The notion of hegemonic masculinity (Connell, 1987, 1993, 1995; Donaldson, 1993), however, has
Gendering Page 5 of 34 much in common with concepts of doing gender and thus may be a bridge concept between structural theories and interactionist thinking. While noting the diversity among types of masculinities, Connell (1995) defined hegemonic masculinity "as the configuration of gender practice which embodies the currently accepted answer to the problem of the legitimacy of the patriarchy, which guarantees (or is taken to guarantee) the dominant position of men and the subordination of women" (p. 77). Donaldson (1993) shared this view and included other ideas such as women as "potential sexual objects for men while men are negated as sexual objects for women" and women as providers of sexual validation for heterosexual men (p. 645). Furthermore, within hegemonic masculinity, there exists the notion of subjugated masculinities, based on a type of heterosexuality that builds on the subjugation of homosexual men. Other social groups can be subordinated and marginalized along lines of race and class. Researchers widely recognize the limitations of strictly social structural interpretations of human action. Connell (1995) aligned his perspectives on hegemonic masculinity with recent trends that view gender as constructed in everyday interaction. As he noted, research with such foci provide opportunities to explore "the making and remaking" (p. 35) of hegemonic masculinities that are linked to broad social trends and social structures. Pyke's (1996) analysis of "class-based masculinities" is an example of approaches that show reciprocities between "interpersonal powering processes" and "broader relations of class and gender" (p. 527). Interpersonal violence is concomitant with hegemonic masculinity (Connell, 1995; Pyke, 1996). Violence can enforce and maintain dominance. While most men do not engage in interpersonal violence, those who do usually invoke discourses of hegemonic masculinities and thus not only feel justified but believe they are within their rights. In the words of Connell (1995), "an ideology of supremacy" gives them authorization (p. 83).
Gendering Page 6 of 34 HEGEMONIC MASCULINITY AND DOING MASCULINITY From our points of view, hegemonic masculinity is only one type of masculinity. There are many other ways to do masculinity and to be masculine besides hegemonic, and many of these challenge hegemonic masculinity. Men pick from a wide array of prescriptions, and they use different discourses at different times, depending upon their interpretations of situations. As Swidler (1986) noted, culture provides its members with a veritable grab bag of possibilities for being and doing. Besides hegemonic discourses, there are many others related to masculinity, including protectors, breadwinners, feminists, nerds, sissies, warriors, heroes, and lovers. Thus, enactments of gender can be playful and egalitarian, without also being an assertion of superiority and domination. Gendered meanings, in the words of Thorne (l993), "are deeply embedded in many of the discourses we draw on to make sense of the world" (p. 105). Discourses of masculinity encode sets of values, images, myths, stories, expectations, and rules that are available to men to guide them in defining their rights, privileges, and roles as men. As feminists, our concern is for the subordination of women, along with our concern for other groups subordinated by hegemonic practices, such as girls and boys, persons of color, and subordinated masculinities. Notions of hegemony, hegemonic masculinity, the doing of gender, and gender as display inform our research. We view the violence we analyzed for this paper as forms of "doing gender" that enact and particularize the core ideas of hegemony and hegemonic masculinity. Rather than viewing hegemonic masculinity as only the subordination of women and a means for heterosexual men to obtain sexual satisfaction from women, for this paper, we view hegemonic masculinity as encompassing the general ideas about hegemony, and we apply them to the doing of gender. In our analysis of interpersonal violence, we therefore "gender" the core ideas of structural hegemony.
Gendering Page 7 of 34 Thus, for example, imposing definitions of situations and other qualities ascribed to structural hegemony is important to our analysis. In addition, we assume that some men experience hegemony and hegemonic masculinity as part of the natural order and that they have a sense of entitlement to act hegemonically to the point of being violent. We also assume that some persons view themes from within hegemonic masculinity to be standards by which they judge their behaviors and the behaviors of others. When their behaviors fall short of these standards, they may redefine situations to meet these perceived standards, or they may redefine the standards in order to experience concordance between what they want and what they believe are standards of the larger culture. Gender is thus constructed and culture is created within situated contingencies. Moral, Emancipatory, and Emotional Dimensions of our Research In our analysis, we join other feminist researchers in acknowledging the moral, emancipatory, and emotional dimensions of research (Cook & Fonow, 1991). Briefly, our moral stance is based on a commitment to social justice and human equality. We believe the behaviors of the men we researched violate the moral precepts of care and justice, two fundamental categories of moral philosophy (Gilgun, 1995; Gilligan, 1982; Manning, 1992; Noddings, 1984). Further, we seek to contribute to emancipatory social movements whose purposes are the transformations of cultures that help perpetuate interpersonal violence and other forms of injustice and lack of care. As Stacey (1993) and Connell (1995) stated, a liberatory feminism is based upon the unravelling of oppressive masculinities. Our goal is to invoke and contribute to discourses that challenge and undermine hegemonic thinking and behaviors. In preparing to write this paper, our emotions were deeply stirred as we struggled to understand the accounts of men who had committed violent acts. As women and members of a class oppressed by male violence, we often identified with the victims of these men, and we may
Gendering Page 8 of 34 even have been victimized at times by their words. Jane, the first author, experienced feelings of fear and vulnerability that she slowly learned to manage over the course of more than ten years of conducting research on violent men. To this day, she occasionally walks into her home wondering if a violent man has broken in and will be sitting in her living room waiting for her. The second author, Laura, was part of the project for almost two years. In a paper for one of her graduate classes, she wrote, "My readings of the transcripts about rapes and murders of women and girls brought out my vulnerabilities in very unexpected ways, making me feel permeable, without boundaries" (McLeod, 1995). Both of us developed deep insight into the phenomenology of victimization. Rather than acting as if we were kin to the Wizard of Oz, presenting our results in a disembodied, detached, and seamless voice, we chose to present "close ups" of some of our emotional reactions to the acts that we struggled to understand, along with our representations of our informants and our more "detached" analyses. As Bruner (1986) pointed out more than a decade ago, fieldwork involves "at least two double experiences:" researchers experiencing themselves, researchers experiencing informants, informants experiencing themselves, and informants experiencing researchers (p. 14). In our work, we are attempting to report on the first half of this double consciousness. We consciously, to use Fine's (1994) words, were "unpacking the hyphen" of the self-other dichotomy; that is, challenging notions of "scientific neutrality, universal truths, and researcher dispassion" (p. 70). We created a multi-vocal text that experiments with writing that attempts to differentiate our representations of informants from our representations of ourselves. When we speak in our own voices, we state which of us is speaking; we did not have identical personal reactions to the men's words. Our representations of ourselves as women with emotion is a form of experimental writing (Richardson, 1994, 1997) that is part of feminist and postmodern thinking and practice.
Gendering Page 9 of 34 We expect our interpretations and reactions to the men's accounts to be similar in many respects to those of the audiences who read our work, but some of our responses could appear to be idiosyncratic and situated according to our personal histories and status. We also acknowledge that texts are open, and, therefore, readers' interpretations of our texts may be different from our own. Further, the interpretations of some readers may appear to be idiosyncratic to them. It is likely that individual interpretations, like the accounts of the informants of this study, may seem idiosyncratic but may actually represent enactments and particularizations of cultural themes and practices. Readers, researchers, and informants may all be involved in enacting and creating culture. METHOD Two residents of a maximum security prison provided life history accounts that included detailed descriptions of sexual violence against women and boys. Don (not his real name), the man who raped women, was engaged to be married and sexually active with his fiancee at the time of his arrest for rape. He confessed to seven rapes, was convicted of five, and sentenced to almost 30 years in prison. He was born and raised in the midwest. Tim (not his real name), the man who molested boys, was married, sexually active with his wife, and the stepfather of two boys at the time of his arrest. He molested more than 20 boys and was sentenced to about 20 years in prison. He was born and raised in the southwest. Both informants were white, in their early thirties, and from upper middle class, twoparent, never-divorced families whose fathers held executive positions and whose mothers were professionals. Both graduated from exclusive, private colleges. Tim was a human service professional with a master's degree in social work, and Don managed a small business. Neither informant was chemically dependent nor did they have histories of mental illness or of being sexually abused themselves. Thus, both men were from the powerful upper classes, and they did
Gendering Page 10 of 34 not have identities usually associated with violent men. (For contrast, see Scully's  description of her sample of male rapists.) We chose these two men for our analysis because of their demographic and personal characteristics. In their cases, family history, social class, race, marital status, diminished capacity because of untreated mental illness, and chemical use cannot be proposed as explanations for their violence. On the other hand, their status gave them clear access to hegemonic discourses of privilege. Don's developmental history is available in Gilgun (1996), and related research on a larger sample is in Gilgun (in press, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1995), Gilgun and Connor (1989), and Gilgun and Reiser (1990). The first author (Jane) did life history interviews of Tim for about 20 hours over 11 interviews and of Don for about 14 hours in 12 interviews. Life history research offers the possibility of examining individual lives and interpretations within the contexts of social, cultural, and historical themes and practices (Denzin, 1989a, 1989b). As a prime research method of the Chicago School of Sociology, a seat of interactionist theorizing, life histories are a method of choice for examining the doing of gender. Connell (1995) also used a life history method in his research on masculinities. In the present research, the general areas covered included family history, history of peer relationships, history of romantic relationships, sexual history, histories of violence experienced as well as perpetrated, and relationships with others in such contexts as school, sports, and jobs. Multiple interviews were conducted because of the scope of the research and the sensitive nature of the topic. Details of the interview process are in Gilgun (1996). I (Jane) tape-recorded the interviews, and they were transcribed verbatim, including the timing of pauses. The second author (Laura) and Jane read the transcripts many times, discussed them, identified and read research and theory on doing gender, social constructions of
Gendering Page 11 of 34 masculinity, hegemonic masculinity, masculinity and violence, feminist analyses of violence, and cultural studies and then tried to make sense of the data all over again. The data were so emotionally evocative that we spent a great deal of time working through our personal responses. Almost two years went by before we found we had any facility in articulating the meanings of the discourses we identified in the informants' accounts. Their way of thinking was for the most part outside our frames of reference. As we struggled through these interpretive processes, we made notes of our responses. FINDINGS: VIOLENCE AND GENDERED MEANINGS Tim and Don constructed their accounts of their violent behaviors from the cultural themes and practices of hegemony and hegemonic masculinity. Most compelling to us were being entitled to take what they wanted and of defining persons and situations as they wished. These men invoked several other discourses besides hegemonic in describing their sexually assaultive behaviors. In so doing, they redefined situations to suit themselves. Overall, the discourses they invoked served hegemonic ends. We also found that the men experienced chills, thrills, and intense emotional gratification as they imposed their wills on smaller, physically weaker persons. Such subjective aspects of hegemonic masculinity were not part of our initial conceptual framework. "Just Grab Them:" Don's Sense of Entitlement Both informants constructed themselves as entitled to having sex with others without including others in their decisions. For instance, Don said about his rapes, "if I can't get them this way [through mutual consent] then the other way to get them is, you know, to just grab them." Drawing from cultural images of "loose" women for whom rape supposedly has no meaning, his narrative is permeated with an "ideology of supremacy" (Connell, 1995, p. 83) and constructions of women as sexual objects for men (Donaldson, 1993). The following shows Don
Gendering Page 12 of 34 defining who the women were and what rape meant to them. He is imposing ideologies about women who are "loose sexually." This is hegemonic masculinity in action. Um, and if I take the right person, you know, it's not going to make a difference anyway. You know, because, like I said before, you know, the women I was, was raping were, you know, they'd been in that bar looking for guys anyway....You know, all my victims were, you know, they, my set up was that they'd been out in bars or loose sexually, kinds of people. So they had it coming, or they, you know, it didn't matter to them. So, so, you know, this wouldn't be a big, big thing to happen to them. After Don's statement that rape would not be "a big, big thing" to the women, I (Jane) was speechless for 20 seconds. When I finally was able to speak, I asked Don how he knew the women were loose. His answer revealed more of his hegemonic thinking: J:(10 sec) Yeah. (10 sec) Well, how did you know that they were at bars and were loose? What...[interrupted]. D:Well, I mean, I didn't actually know that. J:Oh. D:I, I knew, I knew that because that's the kind of people that were out at that time of night. J:Okay. So you would be looking at what time of night? D:Yeah. J:What, what time of night would you be out? D:Well generally the, and this, this is another thing that doesn't make sense because there was all kinds of times that I was out. J:Oh. D:But,
Gendering Page 13 of 34 J: (Laugh)
D:Um, (5 sec) generally it would be late, like you know, midnight, one o'clock, two o'clock in the morning, that kind of thing. But you know I was out in, in the winter time sometimes after it got dark, you know, or not right after it got dark but maybe at seven-thirty or eight o'clock, or something. Jane: My laugh was inappropriate but it arose out of an enormous sense of incongruity and perhaps hysteria. Here is this guy who looked so small to me sitting here making one-sided, hegemonic constructions of women who deserve to be raped and this same guy and guys like him terrorize women routinely. In some instances, they ruin the lives of women. He seems unable to understand the significance of what he did, what meanings his words and behaviors might have for women in general and his victims in particular. Based on our extensive conversations, I think he was so focused on himself that he was not able to step outside of his own frame of reference. In fact, he had a frame of reference that was outside of mine: the frame of reference of hegemonic masculinity. As we spoke, he seemed to hunched over, forehead wrinkled, working very hard to explain to me how he thought about his rapes. I was working hard to understand him. Laura: They had it coming. They deserved to be raped because he decided who they were, what they were doing. I'll punish them for not doing what they're supposed to be doing as women. Jane: Yes, for not being "virtuous" women. He has no idea who they were. He told me he wouldn't recognize any of his victims if they walked into the room. Yet, he's taking on a Godlike function of naming them. He's constructing these women, creating them in images he chooses, independent of them. This is hegemony.
Gendering Page 14 of 34 Ironically, Don could not see the holes in his own thinking. He had no basis except ideological for concluding that the women he raped were loose, and he never arrived at the conclusion that no one "deserves" to be raped, no matter what. To serve his own agenda, he chose a hegemonic ideology from a grab bag of possible ways of constructing women who drive their cars after dark. Don's views, however, may not be as extreme as we would like to believe. Many of the rapists in Scully's (1990) research also invoked negative cultural stereotypes and thus constructed the women in ways that may have helped them to rape: the women were seductresses, really wanted sex, and were not nice girls anyway. Although feminists have long challenged myths that portray rape victims as deserving of rape, as for example, when they hitchhike, get drunk, go to bars alone, or are prostitutes, these myths continued to be invoked and enacted. "Payback:" Tim's Hegemonic Sense of Entitlement As a social worker, Tim had easy access to boys. Part of his job was to link boys with mentors. Boys he found attractive he assigned to himself. This is how he constructed these boys and his relationship to them: ...when I see children, people that are vulnerable and in need, you know, that I have concern and a desire to help and take care of this person, to give him what he needs materially or emotionally, and that somehow that either gets expressed sexually; it certainly arouses sexual feelings in me. Maybe it's that I feel that that's my payback for taking care of others, that I in turn get sex. Jane: As a researcher, I might use reflexivity to ask myself, how do I express empathy? Well, I try to connect with how I feel in similar situations.
Gendering Page 15 of 34 Laura: Then share that experience/emotion with a friend or loved one or "object of empathy" to let that person know that she is not alone in her experience. Jane: Sharing similar human experience. Then, I ask myself, if I feel empathic toward someone who is in pain, do I use my power? Laura: Age, structural location, gender, supervisory position, etc. to initiate a sexual encounter with that person? Jane: No. More specifically, if a young person were in emotional distress, would I express my empathy with that person Laura: by making a sexual encounter happen? Laura and Jane: No. For Tim, boys are sexual objects. Not only did he feel entitled to act on his eroticized constructions of these boys, but he also used discourses of market exchange to rationalize his entitlement. Sex with boys is the exchange or currency for paying him back for his "care" of them. Tim's doing of gender shows that children--boys and girls--are potential sexual objects for men who enact hegemonic masculinities. The huge numbers of children who are sexually abused support this observation. Don: “Act Like You Enjoy it” Both men wanted evidence that their victims enjoyed the sexual violence perpetrated against them. Gender thus became a display that they enacted and that they forced on the victims. Don displayed gender--his hegemonic masculinity--by intimidating women into acting as if they enjoyed being raped. Tim displayed hegemonic masculinity despite his selfpresentation of being a "cool" guy who was participating in mutual, egalitarian relationships with boys he often compared to women.
Gendering Page 16 of 34 Both men were uncomfortable with viewing themselves as sexual predators. They quickly dispatched thoughts that their behaviors were abusive, and they redefined situations more in conformance with egalitarian standards. Exemplifying Cooley's (1902/1956) notion of the looking-glass self, they modified their constructions of situations but not their behaviors in response to their understandings of standards of moral conduct and their wanting to avoid taking on stigmatized identities. For instance, Don told his victims, "Act like you enjoy it." Then he Um, you know, ah, made them kiss me, ah things, you know, that were, you know, make it seem more, you know, normal and consenting, or something like that. You know, that was the idea (3 sec) ah, have, like having them undress themselves, rather than my doing it, was part of, you know, a big part of it. Um (12 sec) I guess that, the, the whole thing was the, you know, that I wasn't, I was trying to make it so that I wasn't forcing them to do anything,you know, but that was the idea....I don't know if it's right to say I wanted her to enjoy it but at least I wanted her to act like she did. (4 sec) It's, it's like, you know, I wanted to make it so that it wasn't a rape, you know, that it was a sexual kind of thing. Laura: I've been haunted by Don's statement, "Act like you enjoy it." Every time it hits my nerves--"Act like you enjoy it. I don't care who you are, how you feel, what this might do to you. I don't care how terrified you are. I just want a display. Your performance--that's enough for me--a superficial facade of pleasure that will allow me to see this as normal and consenting, whatever that might be." Would that display of enjoyment make rape less violent for Don? Does he care? Where does he get these models for "normalcy"--from porn? He knew this was rape. He wants the woman to be responsible for making it not seem like rape. Where is his responsibility to respect the moral code that condemns rape? The desire for the display is a real thing for him. He's still going to rape her whether or not she puts on the display.
Gendering Page 17 of 34 Jane: Don was a devote of porn. He stole Playboy from his father when he was a young teenager and then in high school stole hard core porn from the desk drawers of offices he cleaned as a part-time job. He laughed when he said no one ever complained. He found the porn highly sexually arousing, the impetus for prolonged, daily masturbation where he imagined raping women. Not only did Don impose his definitions of situations on the women he victimized, but he also intimidated them into living up to his definitions. In so doing, he displayed extremes of hegemonic masculinity that had to have been highly destructive to his victims. In attempting to create scenarios where rape was not rape, he also constructed a sticky web of self-deception that ultimately led to decades of imprisonment. Don's self-deception, however, has much in common with some of the rapists in Scully's (1990) study. These men stated that some of their victims eventually relaxed and enjoyed themselves, or were irresistible drawn to them; e.g., to the men who were raping them.
Tim: Boys as Consenting Women Many of Tim's statements echo Don's in terms of wanting the relationship to appear "normal" and consenting, even to the point of seeing in his own mind the boys as adult and women and the relationships as mutual. These constructions were "gender benders" and "agebenders," re-shaping the meanings of gender and age, in this case, to suit how Tim wanted to see himself in relationship to these boys. These "benders" undercut and contradicted his depiction of the boys as "trained," like animals, perhaps. Viewing oneself as training another human being is a hegemonic social position. The following statement is imbued with the contradictory, hegemonic discourses that he invoked.
Gendering Page 18 of 34 I'd train them to the point where they knew when certain things were a certain way, that it was time to be sexual. With a couple of my victims, I had them trained so well that they would initiate it, and then that further reinforced my belief that they wanted to be doing it and that I was more or less participating in a mutual relationship with another adult, whom I saw more as a woman almost than a man in a lot of ways because of the female characteristics: the skin, the lack of hair, whatever, just the softness. Tim told me (Jane) that when boys had body hair and other adult male characteristics, they were "much less of a turn on." As the above quote illustrated, Tim's hegemonic sense of entitlement was so strong that he invoked and often distorted language from other discourses: heterosexuality, egalitarianism, and homophobia, with no acknowledgement of the duplicity he was practicing. His homophobia is suggested in wanting to see the boys as women and his avoidance of the term "boy" and his preference for the generic term "children." It may be that he believed his own constructions, as contradictory as they are. Laura: He really thought this stuff through and made all kinds of efforts to replicate the model of a mutual, man-woman sexual/romantic relationship. Jane: He had the power and the sense of entitlement to train them, and he also had access to their case files, and this was a power as well, a diabolical power, where he knew what was lacking in their lives. Laura: "Train" them--he sounds like he's talking about a dog. Dogs and women and children--all become sexual objects who ought to do what Tim wants them to do for him. Dispatching Thoughts of Being Abusive Although both men wanted to believe that their violence actually were consenting relationships between equals, they did have bursts of insight that their behaviors were abusive. Don said:
Gendering Page 19 of 34 Anytime I thought of rape per se as, as rape, then I would feel, you know, guilt and shame and, and all that kind of stuff. And so I tried not to think about, you know, rape. (18 sec) Try to think of (13 sec), yeah, just whenever I thought of, you know, rape in those terms it just, I felt uncomfortable, you know, and, or, if somebody else talked about it. He said with pride that when he read a police report of one his rapes, ...the woman thought that my, you know, that I was very calm and, um, I don't know, almost reassuring. You know, that I'd said, you know, that I wouldn't hurt them, you know, if they did what I said. Don apparently preferred the label "reassuring" over the label "rapist." He wanted to be a considerate rapist. This view of himself complements his insistence on the women's display of enjoyment. He, however, showed no insight into the hegemonic qualities of his statements of not hurting victims if they did what he said and of ordering them to "act like they enjoyed it." Defining the women he raped as "loose" and for whom being raped won't matter also may be linked to his dread of seeing himself as a man who rapes. Tim also dispatched thoughts that he was abusive: I wasn't thinking, well, I'm abusing these kids, and I'm victimizing them, and I'm hurting them for life. I wasn't having any of those. When I would have those kinds of thoughts or feelings, I'd block them out. I wouldn't let myself think those things. Rather than seeing himself as exploitive, Tim wanted to believe his own duplicitous constructions as suggested by his fantasy about marrying one of these boys: The fantasy would be that I would adopt the kid, or somehow the kid would live with me, say, in in a big city, and I would have a job, and we would be more or less in a relationship, just married. If not married, then just lovers or whatever.
Gendering Page 20 of 34 He wondered why the boy in the fantasy often was "from another country." ...the reality is a person from another country, another culture, it maybe gave me a little more permission to take advantage of him and it wasn't quite so bad, so destructive or something. Most of the boys Tim victimized were from poor families of American Indian and Hispanic heritages, cultures different from his own. His fantasy about such boys is embedded in racist, supremist discourses that give permission to exploit persons who are members of subjugated groups. This quote, too, suggests that he was aware of the harm he was perpetuating. Like Tim, Don also called upon discourses that fostered his sense of supremacy and the denigration of "out" groups when he invoked discourses of the loose woman. The Thrill of Sexual Hegemony Both Don and Tim clearly articulated the deep emotional meanings and sense of excitement that their sexual violence had for them. The subjective meanings of their violence may be at the heart of why they committed their violent acts. Each man, however, experienced the excitement in his own way. Don, a high school football player, described the physical experience of anticipating his rapes: Well, nothing, nothing ever gave me the intense kind of feeling. Especially the, there would be, like, like when I was driving around and I would be thinking about it, maybe following somebody, I had, you know, like a physical reaction. I would be shaking, physically shaking, like teeth would chatter, and I couldn't stop. You know, it wouldn't stop, and I never had that kind of, you know, physical reaction to, to anything else. I would also get, you know, like butterflies and I can, you know, relate that to, you know, sports events, you know, before a big game or something. You know, that feeling but not the, not the physical [meaning, he didn't have an erection
Gendering Page 21 of 34 before a big game, but did when he was driving around looking for a woman alone after dark in her car]. Anticipating rape inflamed Don. His behavior evoked images of man the hunter, man the questor, man the predator, man the sports hero. This also is gender as display; for Don, the audience is himself and perhaps an imaginary audience who believed, as he told me (Jane) he did, that real men have sex whenever they want. The display aspect of his excitement was an anticipation that he would live up to his gendered, hegemonic ideal of man the sexual conqueror who has sex with whomever he chooses whenever he wants. "Making Them Do What They Didn't Want To Do" Another aspect of Don's excitement was his control in the rape situation itself: he could make women do what they didn't want to do. In one case I had the, I made the, the woman perform oral sex on me. I suppose ah, you know, some of the, I don't know, excitement or whatever, came from ah, knowing that she didn't, you know, obviously, I knew that she didn't want to do that, but it was, you know, I was making her do that, and I think, I guess I got some, I got some degree of satisfaction from, ah, you know, that they, and all of them, knowing that I was making them do what they didn't want to do.... Jane: Hearing this, I was furious. I could imagine being one of his victims and experiencing the helplessness and humiliation of having to perform oral sex on him. I could feel and taste his penis. Particularly infuriating was my belief that in so humiliating me he would be fulfilling a ridiculous fantasy--that of a man who can have sex with whomever he wanted when he wanted it. To me, "real" men negotiate and are not destroyed by having to negotiate--and having to wait sometimes.
Gendering Page 22 of 34 Jane and Laura: The women probably were terrified and knew the man who was raping them had the physical strength to kill them. Inducing such terror is no mark of a man. Don took advantage of his physical strength to force smaller, weaker persons to perform a humiliating physical act. This is not such a big feat. The thrill of controlling others may be a major theme in the experiences of men who commit violent acts. Groth and Birnbaum (1979) reported this phenomenon many years ago, and I (Jane) also found this in a sample of child molesters (Gilgun, 1994). Molestation as Romance Although excitement and emotional meanings were present, Tim's romantic descriptions of his experience of molesting boys contrasted with Don's graphic depiction of his rapes. The following quotes from Tim's account illustrate the contrast. It think it was closeness, caring, loving, warmth, gentleness, all those things I felt with my victims, caressing.
When I was with my victim sexually, it was a very fulfilling experience. It was the most exciting, good feeling I could have.
I felt a lot of excitement, felt like I wanted to be with them. They wanted to be with me. There was some mutual excitement. There was some sexual excitement. There was also just some--it was fun. I was relaxing. It was a lot better than relationships I had with women. Laura: Tim's using these descriptions to cover up the garbage--the using of these boys. What strikes me is he is not disquieted by the damage he's inflicting. This is a whole lot of entitlement, above and beyond any cultural prescriptions that condemn sexual violence against
Gendering Page 23 of 34 children. He doesn't have to answer to anyone or to any moral code--just address the adrenaline rush and get on with it. Tim is able to isolate "the sex" from the boys' experience, particularly the pain he is causing them. Jane: Don, too, isolated his experience of excitement from the experiences of the victims. Yet, he also knew his victims suffered, and he enjoyed their suffering and his power to make them suffer. Now, after years of trying to understand the kind of satisfaction the two men experienced in their violent acts--the control, the excitement, the sexual fulfillment--we are still baffled. We can present instances from their own narratives that illustrate gendered discourses and we can provide our interpretations, but we cannot enter into their points of view. We do not have connected knowledge of Don's rapes and Tim's trust-destroying molestations; what we have is a separate, disconnected knowledge of their experiences (e.g., Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, & Tarule, 1986). We are, however, deeply connected to our own emotional responses to his account. Simply, we are horrified, still. DISCUSSION This study placed gender at the center of an analysis of the discourse of two men who committed violent acts: one who raped women he did not know and the other who molested boys with whom he cultivated relationships. The two men enacted a sense of entitlement, they constructed their violence as consensual sex, they experienced their violence as emotionally meaningful, and they invoked supremist ideologies. Our analysis also provided material that expands definitions of hegemonic masculinity to include its subjective meanings and ideas related to subjugation based on age. Finally we experimented with a method for writing ourselves into the analysis.
Gendering Page 24 of 34 We explored instances where two men invoked both violence-supportive and egalitarian discourses in their descriptions of the violent acts they committed. Don, for example, constructed his victims as women hanging around in bars, women who deserved to be raped; yet, he ordered them to act as if they enjoyed it--as if rapes were a mutually-agreed upon sexual acts. He forced the women to put on a display, so that he would enjoy it and so that he would not have to face himself and admit that he was raping them. He chose discourses that permitted him to do gender in ways that were violent and humiliating to victims, such as supremist ideologies that authorized him to construct the women in denigrating ways. As members of an "out" group, loose women had little value, and it really didn't matter--not even to them--that he raped them. As a member of an "in" group, he had the power to define situations as he wished and the power to enforce his definitions. Enacting hegemonic cultural themes and practices, he believed he was entitled to do gender as he did. Tim also drew upon hegemonic discourses that authorized him to act as if he were entitled to use boys sexually. He sometimes invoked the language of commerce: having sex with boys was payback for his care of them. At other times, he used the discourse of romantic love, where he talked as if his molestations were egalitarian relationships with adult woman replete with tenderness, closeness, caring, gentleness, and warmth. Bending gender to construct boys as women suggests that he did not want to see himself as a man who has sex with boys, a highly stigmatized social identity. Like Don, he may have been trying to persuade himself that what he was doing was just and good--after all, he thought about marrying them, didn't he? Occasionally, some implications of his abuse of power burst into his awareness, but, he shoved these thoughts aside and thought again about how good sex with boys felt, how much the boys wanted it, and how good he was to and for the boys. His hegemonic construction of his behaviors, his sense of entitlement to take sex from boys, and the profound pleasure he took in
Gendering Page 25 of 34 these boys apparently over-rode any competing discourses of masculinity that countered his wishes. He, like Don, re-shaped his constructions of what he was doing to conform to more conventional codes of conduct, such as protector and lover. Tim also invoked racist, supremist ideologies in trying to explain why he routinely chose boys from non-white cultures. Redefining Hegemonic Masculinity This analysis demonstrates the importance of the subjective meanings of hegemonic doing of gender. Having power and control over others, forcing them or manipulating them into doing what they do not want to do, and using them for personal satisfaction have profound emotional charges and could be core motivators for hegemonic, gendered behaviors. Validation might also be a key subjective dimension, an insight we have built from our own analysis and from Donaldson's (1993) observation that hegemonic masculinity includes the idea that women exist to validate men sexually. A major payoff of dominating others could be its subjective meanings. Both Scully (1990) and Groth and Birnbaum (1979) found emotional satisfaction to be common in the experiences of rapists. Scully quoted one rapist as reporting, "After rape, I always felt like I had just conquered something, like I had just ridden the bull at Gilley's" (p. 158). Kull's (1988) interviews of men involved in the United States military defense industry shows the wider applicability of the subjective dimensions of hegemony. Commenting on a viewpoint of one of the interviewees, a viewpoint he found to be typical, Kull said: "It seems that he was genuinely reporting the emotional gratification derived from maintaining American status relative to the Soviet Union independent of its security relevance" (p. 224). Thus, a more comprehensive understanding of hegemonic masculinities, the doing of gender, and of structural hegemony includes acknowledgment of its subjective dimensions. There has to be reasons for dominating others, whether on an interpersonal level or through political means, and subjective
Gendering Page 26 of 34 satisfaction could be one of these reasons. Finally, Don and Tim have provided a possible vocabulary for articulating the emotional meanings of hegemony and doing gender: satisfaction, payback, enjoyment, pleasurable feelings, excitement, fun, and fulfillment. A sense of entitlement also appears to be a major component of hegemonic masculinity, larger than our review of the literature had suggested. The discourses on which the two men drew authorized them to act as if they had a right to do gender as they did. Of particular significance is their definition of their victims as members of "out" groups: "loose" and children from other countries. Scully (1990) also found that many of the rapists in her study believed they were exercising a fundamental right, and they, too, used demeaning terms to refer to women. Furthermore, Don's and Tim's dehumanization of the women and children they victimized have analogues not only with more general, culture-wide discourses that stigmatize and dehumanize women (Schur, 1984) but also are analogous to other tactics of dehumanization that lead to heinous acts, such as dehumanizing persons of African descent with demeaning terms, stigmatization of Jews and homosexuals in Nazi Germany, and with the training of soldiers to view the "enemy" as less than human through the use of dehumanizing terms such as "gooks," "Japs," and "Cong." Several scholars have concluded that those who direct war deny the actuality of what they are propagating; they appear to be hooked into winning and into being superior and in control rather than thinking of the carnage they wreak and their responsibility for the destruction of the precious social fabric (Miedzian, 1991). In this denial, they are similar to Don and Tim who constructed their enactments as consenting. The present analysis also provided data that support an expansion of definitions of hegemonic masculinity to include age as a category of subjugation along side of gender, class, and sexual orientation. As Tim's case shows, the definition of hegemonic masculinity can be expanded to include the subjugation, exploitation, and destruction of children who are not part of
Gendering Page 27 of 34 the dominant culture. A quick glance at the vast child maltreatment literature provides additional support for the idea that age is a major category of subjugation. Detachment was Impossible Our findings have highlighted the centrality of the subjective dimensions of doing gender and hegemonic masculinity. Parallel to this emphasis on subjectivity is our experimental method of including our subjective responses to the men's accounts. We began the writing of this paper wanting to show that detachment in this research was impossible for us. We shared instances where we were highly engaged emotionally in the two men's discourses, often horrified and fearful. Willing to risk that readers may interpret our self-presentations as idiosyncratic and perhaps trivial, we argue that our subjective comments illustrate how researchers are engaged emotionally and are not detatched; our comments furthermore represent instances of the intersection of individual agency and culture. We believe that many other women and men share our responses and thus are participating with us in maintaining and creating discourses of gender and power that we hope contest and unravel gendered hegemonic ideologies. We also butted against limits to our subjective understandings. Despite more than a decade of research on violent men for the first author (Jane) and two years for the second author (Laura), the satisfaction the men experienced with their sexual violence still baffles us. We simply cannot enter into their perspectives, but we were highly motivated to report their representations of themselves. We are like narrators of novels who observe "transforming events" that "swirl" around the main characters and who emerge bruised but still relatively unscathed "so the story can be told" (Abrahams, 1986, p. 54). Limits of Hegemonic Constructions Tim and Don had the power to construct their molestation and rape scenarios as they wished, and the consequences of these constructions were devastating to their victims.
Gendering Page 28 of 34 Competing standards of conduct encoded in legislation and enforced by police and justice systems finally put a limit on their exploitive, assaultive behaviors. Believing their constructions to be real was not sufficient in their cases to keep them out of prison for decades. Hegemonic ideologies, however, are major supports for violent acts, and an unknown proportion of persons who commit such acts never experience sanctions. Doing and Creating Masculinity The ability of these two men to mold their constructions of situations to fit what they wanted to believe, in combination with their actual ability to control particular situations, recalls Stacey's (l993) despair over ever dismantling and neutralizing hegemonic masculinity. She observed that as soon as some hegemonic masculinities are undermined and neutralized, new ones will take their places. For Stacey, a question to be pursued is how can hegemonic men "be encouraged toward more desirable desires" (p. 713)? The analysis in this paper supports this view. Individuals who chose to take advantage of their power over others have seemingly limitless discourses on which to draw, and they can interpret, transform, and enact these discourses any way they choose. Violence, then, is a genderism; that is, an enactment on the individual level of cultural themes and practices. When men commit violent acts, they are both "doing masculinity" and creating it in apparently endless ways. Emancipatory feminism opposes and seeks to undermine these constructions. REFERENCES Abrahams, R. D. (1986). Ordinary and extraordinary experience. In V. W. Turner & E. M. Bruner (Eds.), The anthropology of experience (pp. 45-72). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois. Behar, R. (1996). The vulnerable observer: Anthropology that breaks your heart. Boston: Beacon.
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Brief Biographical Statements Jane Gilgun is an associate professor, School of Social Work, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is the first editor of Qualitative Methods in Family Research (1992) (with Kerry Daly and Gerald Handel) and with Marvin B. Sussman edited The Methods and Methodologies of Qualitative Family Research (1996). Her research is on the meanings of violence to perpetrators, how persons overcome risks for adverse developmental outcomes, and the development of violent behaviors.
Gendering Page 34 of 34 Laura McLeod is a doctoral student in anthropology and feminist studies, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She has authored several reports and articles on the economic systems sustaining American Indians living on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota. She is doing her fieldwork for her dissertation on the White Earth Reservation. Her topic is the reclamation of traditional methods of harvesting.
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