Monday, August 20, 2018
News Roundup

USF researcher looks at precarious nature of traditional manhood

TAMPA — In a research lab at the University of South Florida, a group of strapping, undergraduate men sat together, braiding hair.

They were helping Jennifer Bosson study society's idea of traditional manhood — a subject that has been a focus of her work at USF and the subject of a presentation she gave last week during the annual USF College of Arts and Sciences "Trail Blazers" dinner showcasing the university's latest research.

"Those wigs were expensive!" Bosson said with a laugh. "You can't re-braid and re-wash low-quality hair. I had to give a lot of detail on why I was buying $200 wigs with my research money."

Bosson has been looking into "precarious manhood," the idea that manhood is harder to earn and easier to lose than womanhood. Traditional manhood, she has hypothesized, must be earned — through public risk, bravery or, in some cultures, rituals including scarring ceremonies. Traditional womanhood, the hypothesis goes, results from mostly biological changes.

Bosson came to USF in 2006 with a Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Texas at Austin, interested in pursuing how men who violate traditional gender roles are perceived. Here, she met Joe Vandello, a fellow social psychologist who had completed post-doctorate work at Princeton University and a student of how different cultures view men and women.

Their collaboration, featured in The Atlantic and Newsweek, earned them the 2014 American Psychological Association's Researcher of the Year award.

Bosson first came up with the idea of using hair-braiding in her research back in 2002, as a way to demonstrate her theory that men's anxiety rises when their manhood is challenged. The task resembled work with ropes — but one is perceived as a feminine undertaking and the other masculine.

Separate groups of hair-braiders and rope-workers were asked to follow up their tasks at a punching bag, as a way to measure their anxiety — the harder the punching, the greater the anxiety. Her conclusion: Men who have their gender roles questioned act more aggressively, to prove themselves.

Her audience April 6, at the University Club downtown during the 40th anniversary of the Trail Blazers Dinner, heard about precarious manhood's effect on the workplace — namely, that achieving status through work is often a way for men to continuously prove their manhood.

Some common expectations, Bosson said, in this workplace of "masculinity contest culture" include placing work over family, showing strength without weakness, and acting socially ruthless. Surveys of both men and women show that living up to them creates a barrier in healthy work/life integration.

"The American family is changing; 40 percent of all households' sole or primary breadwinner is female," Bosson said. "Something has to give. We can't keep pressuring people to sacrifice to impress coworkers and maintain a sense of masculinity."

Precarious manhood, she said, is linked to work and status in a way that womanhood is not.

Her presentation drew a number of questions from audience members at the dinner, including one about the affect of mechanization on how men view themselves.

One Tampa Palms couple — Dee Jeffers, 70, and Charlie Mahan, 78 — said their grown children work and split parenting and housework equally with their spouses, giving the couple hope that traditional gender roles are on their way out.

"I compare where my parents were and where my kids are and it's light years of difference," said Jeffers. "One time when Mom was sick and couldn't make dinner, Dad said, 'I can make sandwiches.' Another male family member exclaimed, 'You know how to cook sandwiches?'"

Because of changes in the roles of men and women, Bosson said, now is "probably one of the worst times in our country's history to be a man who relies on traditional ways of demonstrating manhood."

Contact Libby Baldwin at [email protected],com. Follow her at @LibBaldwin

Comments
Ernest Hooper: Sometimes you gotta take inventory

Ernest Hooper: Sometimes you gotta take inventory

Random thoughts, because sometimes you gotta take inventory.I like Kelly Clarkson, but she’s no Aretha.Tax cuts? Overrated.Vote. Stop making excuses.To earn a man’s support, you must acknowledge his pain.The older I get, the more I love baseball.Sly ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays journal: Sergio Romo extremely thankful for career save No. 100

Rays journal: Sergio Romo extremely thankful for career save No. 100

BOSTON — Sergio Romo tries — though not always successfully — to keep his emotions in check on the mound. You kind of have to in logging 100 career saves, the milestone he reached in Sunday's 2-0 win over the Red Sox.But walking int...
Updated: 6 hours ago
DeCalon Brooks ready to make a name for himself at Florida State

DeCalon Brooks ready to make a name for himself at Florida State

TALLAHASSEE — DeCalon Brooks doesn't only want to be known as Derrick Brooks' son.Yes, he plays the same position (linebacker) at the same school (Florida State) where his father won a national title in 1993 before becoming a Bucs legend a...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Nothing is going to stand in way of Peyton Barber and his goal to be Bucs’ starting running back

Nothing is going to stand in way of Peyton Barber and his goal to be Bucs’ starting running back

TAMPA – Ask Peyton Barber his approach to training camp or preseason games, and his answer is meant to bull over the questioner as if it's all that's standing between him and the goal line."I think the end-all goal for me is to be the star...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Jalen Beeks shines for Rays in winning return to Boston

Jalen Beeks shines for Rays in winning return to Boston

BOSTON — Jalen Beeks called it a complicated question.Then he gave a convoluted answer.Just what, he was asked after leading the Rays to a 2-0 win Sunday over the Red Sox, did it mean to come back to Fenway Park for the first time and beat...
Updated: 9 hours ago
North Carolina fugitives, charged with shooting at cops, found and arrested in Treasure Island

North Carolina fugitives, charged with shooting at cops, found and arrested in Treasure Island

TREASURE ISLAND — Two men on the run from law enforcement in North Carolina were found hiding in Treasure Island — armed with an AR-15, a machete and a pipe bomb, deputies said — leading to a standoff with a SWAT team that ended early Sunday morning....
Updated: 10 hours ago
Tampa holds a birthday vigil for Lillia Raubenolt, the young girl killed on Bayshore

Tampa holds a birthday vigil for Lillia Raubenolt, the young girl killed on Bayshore

Somewhere Over the Rainbow was the first song Lillia Raubenolt’s parents sang to her as a newborn, according to her uncle, John Reisinger."They were just so happy when she was born," he said.But on May 23, while the family was visiting Tampa from Ohi...
Updated: 11 hours ago
She would be 2 today

She would be 2 today

CreditLillia Raubenolt would have had her second birthday today. On May 23, while the family was visiting Tampa from Ohio, Lillia and her mother, Jessica Raubenolt, were struck and killed by a car as they legally crossed the road at the corner of Bay...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Man in Spring Hill airlifted to hospital with severe electrical burns

Man in Spring Hill airlifted to hospital with severe electrical burns

A man has been airlifted to a local hospital after suffering severe electrical burns while trimming trees in Spring Hill.In a release, Pasco County Fire Rescue said the man was working on a lift and was airborne in the 18000 Block of Skinner Dr. in S...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Rays finish trip with 2-0 shutout of Red Sox

Rays finish trip with 2-0 shutout of Red Sox

BOSTON – The Rays always seem to find a way to make things interesting.Sunday, they did so by shutting down and shutting out the majors-best Red Sox in a 2-0 matinee win to cap a winning three-city road trip.Five Rays pitchers combined to blank...
Updated: 12 hours ago