25 March 2011
In the article “Saving Masculinity:” Gender Reaffirmation, Sexuality, Race, and Parental Responses to Male Child Sexual Abuse by C. Shawn McGuffey, the writer’s main point is to prove that sociologists can use trauma to understand routine social processes and develop theory. McGuffey states that when trauma occurs, or“when things fall apart,” we learn about structure by observing how social actors attempt to put things back together. Using this same logic, McGuffey uses parental responses to same-sex, male child sexual abuse as an example of trauma to further extrapolate the mechanics of gender reaffirmation. McGuffey bases his arguments on two main sources: previous research and interviews he conducted himself.Although McGuffey does employ previous research in his article, the bulk of his argument is supported by the interviews he carried out himself. McGuffey conducted 389 in-depth interviews between 2002 and 2007 with 62 parents (black, Puerto Rican, and white) who voluntarily enrolled their sons in therapy for sexually abused boys. McGuffey’s findings conclude that with the exception of twohouseholds, most parents of sexually abused boys fear that same-sex child sexual abuse will lead to homosexuality; therefore most parents revert to extreme gender reaffirmation techniques in an attempt to salvage masculinity. Gender reaffirmation techniques were adopted differently in each household, but McGuffey finds that: fathers champion gender reaffirmation by emphasizing athleticism, emotionaldetachment, and promoting heterosexuality; married mothers exercise gender reaffirmation by adjusting their schedules in order to construct male space for fathers and sons to bond over “guy things” such as sports; single mothers also look for men to exercise gender reaffirmation, but have to rely instead on male relatives, such as brothers, or romantic partners; and finally he finds that in black andPuerto Rican households, parents not only do all of the above, but reinforce gender reaffirmation by increasing the racial proximity and cultural interactions of their sons (e.g., taking their children out of white neighborhoods and transporting them to black and Puerto Rican communities).
This article contributes to the field of Sociology in two major ways. The first way it contributes toSociology is by showing that trauma can be used as an analytical tool to illuminate micro-level social processes. In this article using trauma as an analytical tool really helps clarify the structure of male gender reaffirmation; because by looking at the different techniques that the parents used to get their boys back to normalcy, you can extrapolate what constitutes gender reaffirmation. This articledefinitely opens the door for more Sociologists to take a closer look at how trauma, as an analytical tool, really helps expose and extrapolate the mechanics of a social process. The second way this article contributes to the field of Sociology is by sharing the actual findings of the research which are that through the lens of the parents of the abused kids, we are able to see a glimpse of thesocial construction of boys and men. This article specifically contributes to the sociological field of gender reaffirmation, because we are able to see how society defines gender reaffirmation and what aspects of it are most important. For example, we saw the parents trying to save the boys’ “gender” by salvaging their masculinity through involving them in sports, teaching them to be aggressive,suppressing their emotions, and most importantly by arousing their interest in girls.
After reading and examining this article thoroughly I think that the author’s findings are reputable. I think so because every argument made wasn’t just put out there, the author supported it with either solid references form previous research, or with quotes from the interviews he carried out through the...