Masculinities, sexualities, and the limits of subversion: Being a man in hairdressing

  • Robinson V
  • Hall A
  • Hockey J
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Drawing on data from a U.K. study of ''masculinities in transition,'' this article con-siders whether hairdressing, a largely feminized working culture, affords men the space to challenge, reaffirm, and play with dominant understanding of what it is to be a man. We ask whether ''another masculinity'' is possible in this sphere and beyond. Using qualitative interviews and observation in the workplace, men's feel-ings about working in ''a woman's world'' and the extent to which their intentional and unintentional ''feminization'' provides scope for challenging gender norms is explored. As Brickell's discussion reminds us, those who subvert the prevailing values surrounding masculinity are at constant risk of being ''misunderstood.'' For hairdressers, the parody of femininity and campness is always at risk of being misin-terpreted. The data suggest that contextual realignments of ''acceptable'' gendering create the possibility for change, but there are limits to subversion; ''feminized'' men find themselves reaffirming the gender order as well as contributing to its disorder.

Author-supplied keywords

  • gender relations
  • hairdressing
  • identity
  • masculinities
  • sexualities
  • subversion

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  • Victoria Robinson

  • Alexandra Hall

  • Jenny Hockey

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