Wrestling masculinitites: an exploration of privileged mens Stories about sexual-romantic meetings

Ulricha Larsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This master thesis investigates privileged men and masculinity ideals in a sexuel-romantic context. My curiosity about examining men's masculinity ideals was awakened by the #metoo campaign. This campaign led me to question earlier studies showing that men's orientation towards traditional patriarchal masculinity ideals is not the most legitimate and that masculinity in Denmark is oriented towards equality. Due to my curiosity, I began to read some of the sexuel harresments and sexual assault in the wake of Metoo. In several of the reports it was a woman’s rejection that served as a catalysts for the offensive or violating action.
I apply a post-structuralist approach that examines how privileged men speak about masculinity, what subject positions are available, and the positioning options described by the men identify or feel available when rejected by women in a sexual-romantic context. My methodological approach is a combination of memory work and semi-structured interviews, and the empirical body consists of both group interviews and individual interviews with a total of 8 men aged 29-40. Before the interviews, I asked the participants to think about or write down a memory of being rejected by a woman in a sexual-romantic context. The interviews were based on the memories and the subsequent conversation was further focused by the semi-structured interview. The analysis has not led to a uniqueness of “how to perform privileged man”. Some of the participants add new elements to "masculinity", but at the same time, they tend to orient themselves to what is traditionally defined as masculine. Through boundaries to the Others, the privileged men retain their position as privileged while delegitimizing a dominant, traditional masculinity. I also identified a tendency among the participants to maintain a heteronormative notion of how a man acts and how a woman acts. This is in part expressed by the fact that men see themselves as decoding women's signals, reading situations and likewise, and at the same time they cannot free themselves from the position of initiators and desirers. The analysis also argues that a rejection can be seen as a breach of expectations, which must be seen in the context of the participants' simultaneous orientation towards a dominant masculinity and a delegitimization of it. The analysis suggests, based on the participants' memories, that rejection becomes a catalyst for not to show dominant masculinity, but for a doubt as to how to act as a man after being rejected

In summary, the thesis concludes that the hierarchy of masculinity seems to persevere, but with a renewed content, that does not degrade the position of ‘privileged man’. At the same time, the participants call for guidelines on how to “act like men” when they are rejected in a sexual-romantic context, which in the thesis is seen in the context, that the situation and position as a ‘privileged’ man is neither clear nor unequivocal.

EducationsPsychology, (Bachelor/Graduate Programme) Graduate
Publication date12 Jun 2019
Number of pages75
SupervisorsKirsten Grønbæk Hansen & Steen Baagøe Nielsen