The Contradictions of Masculinity: Desire, emotions and masculine identities of seven heterosexual Mexican men
Studying men and masculinities in Mexico through feminist sociology is necessary to tackle gender inequalities. These inequalities can be as extreme as the institutional, sexual and physical violence that occur in disproportionate numbers, or as quotidian as the micro-machismos that go unnoticed as forms of everyday gender violence. It is paramount to understand masculinity as a system of domination and differentiation as well as a gender identity that is performed by bodies that feel, are affected and recognise themselves as masculine and as men. By doing so, the road towards equality will include a strong critique of how men have learned to pursue a certain form of masculinity. To question men’s relation with masculinity and their experience of recognising themselves as such, this thesis took a narrative approach to the analysis of video diaries, generated through an affective methodology with seven Mexican men about their sexual-affective heterosexual relationships. The methodological process involved a relationship of ethics, friendship and co-production. Each of the seven men recorded themselves talking about their relationships, their partners and themselves in a uniquely vulnerable, honest and reflexive manner. The video diaries were then turned into seven narratives that were organised discursively into topics of: Emotions, Desire and Identity. The analysis centred on affective practices, emotions, social mediations of desire and masculine identity as ongoing negotiations in a particular geopolitical context. The men in this study constantly situated themselves between the hegemonic discourse of masculinity in Mexico and alternatives closer to a feminist approach. This positioning showed how their practices and ideas, while still part of the hegemonic system, were also able to challenge it. Thus, this thesis demonstrates the value of an affective methodology for working with men to analyse masculinities. The men who participated in this research revealed their daily navigations between multiple forms of masculinities and the hegemonic system still embedded in them. Such everyday negotiations highlight the very real challenges to be overcome in the movement towards more equal, free and ethical relationships between women and men. Furthermore, by offering a situated study of how Mexican men negotiate their masculinity, this research contributes to broader Anglophone literature on masculinity, which tends to be rooted in the Anglo-American experience. While concerned with relatively privileged Mexican men, it shows how such men negotiate global stereotypes such as the macho, the provider, the lover or the rebel. Finally, this thesis reveals how masculinities are manifested, as gender identity, with specific practices, desires, emotions and ways of being in the world; and also as a symbolic-material system of hierarchical organisation of sexed bodies. Thus, analysis of sexual-affective heterosexual relationships, through a focus on masculinities, can bring to light the contradictions and conflicts of being a man situated in a privileged position within the sex-gender system, in a social context that is increasingly questioning the position and the system that maintains it.