Femininity, mental weakness, and difference: Male students account for anorexia nervosa in men

Chris McVittie*, Debbie Cavers, Julie Hepworth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine how men account for the diagnosis in men of anorexia nervosa (AN), a condition commonly associated with women. Male students participated in focus group discussions of topics related to AN. Discussions were tape-recorded with participants' consent, transcribed, and then analyzed using discourse analysis. The participants spontaneously constructed AN as a female-specific condition. When asked to account for AN in men, they distanced AN from hegemonic masculinities in ways that sustained both dominant masculine identities and gender-specific constructions of AN. These findings show how issues of health and gender are interlinked in everyday understandings of AN. Future researchers might usefully consider how the construction of gender-specific illness implicates wider notions of both feminine and masculine gender identities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-418
Number of pages6
JournalSex Roles
Volume53
Issue number5-6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2005

Keywords

  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Discourse analysis
  • Masculinities
  • Social construction

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