My Brother's Keeper: Queering Masculinities in Higher Education
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Guyland was the world in which young men live. It was both a stage of life, a liminal undefined time span between adolescence and adulthood that can often stretch for a decade or more, and a place, or, rather, a bunch of places where guys gather to be guys with each other, unhassled by the demands of parents, girlfriends, jobs, kids, and the other nuisances of adult life (Kimmel, 2008, p. 4). The 21st century adult male learner lives a multidimensional life with multiple identities impacted by their notion of masculinity and manhood. Guyland offers enormously consequential stakes for adult male learners enrolled in post-secondary institutions. If a man graduates from college without the opportunity to explore his notions of masculinity, his lived experience and to make meaning of his masculine identity, he was likely to remain in the realm of guyland and perpetuate behaviors and beliefs that negatively affect not only him, but women and other men he comes into contact with. This study was designed to examine and present the experiences of five diverse undergraduate adult male learners at an institution of higher education as they explore the ways of knowing and make meaning of their own notions how they experience their masculinity regulated and how their perception of other men’s notion of masculinity shape their relationship with other men. This study highlighted both the benefits and concerns of the participant’s notion of masculinity and their perception of other men’s notion of masculinity as it impacts relationships. The illumination of turning point moments and the adult male learner’s developmental trajectory as they made meaning of how their masculinity was regulated was described in this study. In order to provide a comprehensive and rich understanding of the complexity of the issues presented in this study, Queer Theory was used as a methodology, a theoretical framework and a critical lens. Normative social ordering of identities and subjectivities was often problematized through Queer Theory. The heterosexual/homosexual binary in addition to the constant privileging of heterosexuality as a lived reality of all adult male learners as a means of identifying as a masculine man as natural was also challenged through Queer Theory. The findings from this research will help those stakeholders who want to be seen as an anchor for men who are willing to contest dominant ideologies surrounding their masculine identity and their own perceptions of their masculinity and the perceptions of their peers. This study hopes to help stakeholders in postsecondary education that aim to support and provide safe spaces for men to engage in well-guided exploration about the ways of knowing surrounding their masculine identity. Implications for student affairs administrators and future areas of research are discussed.