Men’s emotions: Heteromasculinity, emotional reflexivity, and intimate relationships

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Abstract

This paper focuses on the underresearched topic of how masculinity relates to emotional forms of caring within heterosexual relationships. Both scholarly and common sense thinking, often present heterosexual male partners as unable and/or unwilling to do emotion work, leaving women burdened with this task. However, contemporary relational complexity increasingly requires emotional reflexivity. Such reflexivity entails interpretations of one’s own and others’ emotions, and acting in light of those interpretations. The question here is to what extent and how that emotional reflexivity might effect a reshaping of heteromasculinity towards more caring forms of emotionality? Drawing on interviews with heterosexual couples in distance relationships, it is argued that emotional reflexivity may produce a variety of ways of relationally gendering emotions. Those who seem to adhere to ideas of men as emotionally restricted may claim tactile forms of emotional expression. However, there may be limitations to these forms in certain circumstances and this may see a reflexive reorientation of heteromasculine emotionalities towards more verbal forms of support. The point of seeking to illustrate that masculinity and emotionality are open to such reflexive shifts is to debunk essentialist views of gendered emotionality which undermine efforts to achieve greater gender equality in intimate life
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-192
JournalMen and Masculinities
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015

Keywords

  • Emotion
  • intimacy
  • gender
  • reflexivity
  • heteromasculinity

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