Under the Shadow of Deviance: Positionality, Subjectivity, and Masculinity of the Male Feminist Ethnographer in a Patriarchal Field Setting
2012 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Other academic)
This paper comes from my reflective account of my ethnographic field experience from 2004 to 2007 in studying construction of masculinities among Chinese fathers in Hong Kong. I came to a men’s centre promoting a “new good men / father” notion as the starting point of my fieldwork. Planning to examine how gender equality would be promoted within the family, I was disappointed by the prevailing discourse of “harmony of the family” in the centre, which left gender power relation, compulsory heterosexuality, and hegemony of monogamy and intact nuclear family unchallenged despite that involvement in childcare and housework was encouraged in fatherhood. At the same time, I discovered that my embodiment and self-presentation of “soft” masculinity did not fit in the male-dominated groups. With the “deviant” masculine embodiment, even though I was not publicly criticized, my subject position as a young, effeminate man somehow hindered my feminist voice being heard or accepted. Yet I could foresee critical analysis in my writing. In such a situation, I had constant worries of being accused of betraying my informants, who might think that I was part of them, sharing their thoughts and views. The fact that I was perceived as a son and a student facilitated my adoption of the performance of learning masculinities and men’s situations from my male informants. Unexpected openness and revelation resulted. In this paper, I am going to discuss the problems and potentials of doing ethnographic research with non-hegemonic masculine embodiment in such an inconsistent fieldsite by examining the positionality and subjectivity of the researcher and the way masculinities effect the situation.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Ethnography, Participant Observation, Subjectivity of Researcher, Reflexivity, Ethics of Social Research, Masculinities
Social Anthropology Gender Studies
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-60895OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-60895DiVA: diva2:564490
Seventh International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Barcelona, Spain.