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Gender and Sexualities in Education

A Reader

Series:

Elizabeth J. Meyer and Dennis Carlson

This volume is about the education of gender and sexualities, which is to say it explores how gender and sexuality identities and differences get constructed through the process of education and «schooling». Wittingly or not, educational institutions and educators play an important role in «normalizing» gender and sexuality differences by disciplining, regulating, and producing differences in ways that are «intelligible» within the dominant or hegemonic culture. To make gender and sexuality identities and differences intelligible through education is to understand them through the logic of separable binary oppositions (man-woman, straight-gay), and to valorize and privilege one normalized identity within each binary (man, straight) and simultaneously stigmatize and marginalize the «other» identity (woman, gay). Educational institutions have been set up to normalize the construction of gender and sexual identities in these ways, and this is both the overt and the «hidden» curriculum of schooling. At the same time, the «postmodern» times in which we live are characterized by a proliferating of differences so that the binary oppositional borders that have been maintained and policed through schooling, and that are central to maintaining highly inequitable power relations and rigid gender roles, are being challenged, resisted, and in other ways profoundly destabilized by young people today.
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1. Masculinities, Gender Non-Conformity, and the Significance of Queer and Transgender Perspectives in Education

The Politics of Deconstructing Masculinities

Extract

Chapter 1

Masculinities, Gender-Nonconformity, and the Significance of Queer and Transgender Perspectives in Education

Wayne Martino

In this chapter I investigate the contribution of queer and transgender literature for rethinking masculinities in education. Initially, I revisit early feminist poststructuralist literature by Bronwyn Davies (1989) to reflect on the significance of deploying texts and reading practices in the elementary school classroom to tease out their significance for destabilizing hegemonic norms that govern what is to count as a viable expression and embodiment of masculinity. This focus on deconstructing masculinity and gender transgressions serves as a basis for introducing important queer analytic frameworks that draw on Britzman (1998), who linked reading practices to the very structuring of certain forms of “intelligibility, identifications and modes of address” that are capable of interrogating the production of normalcy, and of attending to imagining alternative social imaginaries (p. 84). I also devote some attention to Butler’s (2001, 2004) scholarship on undoing gender and giving an account of oneself as a gendered subject, and apply this theoretical literature to reflecting on the thinkability, recognizability, and embodiment of masculinities as a contested set of norms governing what is to count as a livable gendered presentation.

It is in this sense that I focus on the significance of the queer and transgender project of interrogating gender and sex classificatory systems, which involves interrupting heteronormativity and destabilizing heterosexual normalization, as central to the politics of dismantling hegemonic masculinities. The use of trans...

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