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Dude, You're a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School Paperback – June 4, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (June 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520252306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520252301
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"Laced with evocative stories based on ethnographic observations and interviews with high school kids, Dude, You're a Fag tells gripping stories of life in high school, while helping to extend the cutting edge of scholarly theory on gender and sexualities. C.J. Pascoe has contributed a highly readable and extremely insightful book that will be required reading for students and scholars of youth and the construction of sex and gender in schools."—Michael A. Messner, author of Taking the Field: Women, Men and Sports

"This is a strikingly original study of schoolboys renegotiating class, gender, and ethnicity, along with the labeling as 'fag'. Here homophobia is at work in a path breaking study, which is also a highly readable must-read."—Ken Plummer, University of Essex, and editor of Sexualities

"We know that schools are a central site for the construction of gender identity, but until C. J. Pascoe's careful and compassionate ethnography, we haven't known exactly how gender conformity is extracted from a slurry of humiliations, fears, and anxieties. Boys will not be boys unless they are made to be, by violence, real or implied. A troubling, thoughtful work."—Michael Kimmel, author of Manhood in America

"Pascoe's thoughtful analysis of the rhetorical and interactional processes that constitute the field of masculinity for young, high school men coming of age is rich and engaging. With fresh insight and careful observation, Pascoe sheds new light on the complex interplay of masculinity, homophobia, sexuality, and the body, compelling us to rethink the formation of gender identities, collective gender practices, and the reproduction of gender inequalities."—Amy L. Best, author of Prom Night: Youth, Schools and Popular Culture and Fast Cars, Cool Rides: The Accelerating World of Youth and Their Cars

"In this superb ethnography of daily life in a contemporary high school, C. J. Pascoe highlights the sexualized dynamics of youthful masculinity. With vivid detail and perceptive analysis, she examines the 'fag talk' which pervades boys' conversations; the convergence of gender, sexual, and racialized practices in school rituals like the 'Mr. Cougar' contest; and the experiences of girls who display themselves as masculine. The result is a book that breaks fresh ground in masculinity and gender studies-and is a very good read!"—Barrie Thorne, author of Gender Play: Girls and Boys in School

About the Author

C.J. Pascoe is Postdoctoral Scholar with the Digital Youth Project at the Institute for the Study of Social Change, University of California, Berkeley.

More About the Author

CJ Pascoe is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Colorado College. She teaches courses on sexuality, social psychology, deviance, gender and education. Her current research focuses on gender, youth, homophobia, sexuality and new media. Dude, You're a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School, won the American Educational Research Association's 2007 Book of the Year Award. Dude documents the relationship between homophobic harassment, heterosexism and masculinity in high school. In it she suggests ways we might begin to redefine gender norms that are damaging to both boys and girls. She received her B.A. in Sociology from Brandeis University in 1996 and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2006.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Headphone Bookworm on February 5, 2012
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book. Pascoe does a good job providing a detailed description of masculinity within a variety of social settings at Riverton High School. Unfortunately, she spends more time on specific spaces (such as auto-shop) and certain groups of students (like the Basketball Girls), than on the school as a whole. I wonder if she would have gotten slightly different results had she focused on more generic spaces such as 'the classroom'. Still, Pascoe does a great job explaining how masculinity is at work in these settings. Some of her explanations go against what the students said, which makes some of her claims somewhat suspicious, though I found most of her arguments in these cases convincing. I particularly appreciated Pascoe's use of Butler's idea of the specter, which she applied to the term/identity/idea of 'the fag'. I applaud Pascoe for including race analysis in this work, though it is only a minor part and doesn't go into great depth, I still think she used it well.

My big complaint about this book is that there isn't anything amazing in her conclusion. I was so happy to see that she included both 'theoretical implications' and 'practical' implications. However, her suggestions in the conclusion were not ground-breaking.

Finally, Pascoe extends 'the fag discourse' further than I would have expected. She includes not only times when students explicity say 'fag' as discourse, but also times when these students (male) imitate effeminate behavior. While I think it was appropriate to do so, I was disappointed in her lack of ability to see the radical potential in the effeminate imitations. She chalked up these imitations to be purely anti-fag.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R B VINE VOICE on November 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book for a class required by my undergrad, so I may have a different mindset than one who read it for fun.
Pascoe spent several weeks in a NorCal high school, studying the impact and influence of gender and sexuality with these kids. Their personal interviews are surprisingly insightful and self-reflective. The big, stereotypical star football player is very aware of gender roles and double standards. There is another popular female athlete who dresses as a drag queen for halloween, and finds it riotously funny. Many parts of this book are less-than objective, which is understandable when dealing with this part of anthropology.
But, the setting (public high school) and the layman's language makes this book something a person from any area of study can read to help open his mind to new ideas (or even just the study of them).
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Canon Can on January 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I read this book the freshmen year of my college trying to make sense of my high school experience and the title then grab my attention as a must read. I was stunned reading it because I thought she was describing my high school. The boys were so similar, if not exhibit the same characteristics, and so were the girls. That book gave me the validation of what I felt was so problematic with our education system, and how homophobia is a learned behaviors, and that those who participated in it are rewarded by not being the one left out. And of course, someone is always left out. And this is the system that we live in and reinforced each day by not speaking up against it. "No child left behind" my ass.

That was about 4 years ago now and as I am writing this review now, I was curious to see what other reviewers said on Amazon. I was really stunned by the many low reviews. Looking through it, I must say I'm not surprised that many (if not all) of them were by men, who accuse her of her "feminist agenda." It gets ugly when folks doesn't want to be called out, and doesn't want system to change because they don't think something is wrong with it when they benefit by participating and not speaking up against it.

The saying "Boys will be boys" rhetoric is spoken in all these reviews, which serve as a reminder, why this book is so needed in the first place. Check out "[...]" which serves us a reminder why words are more powerful than we'd like to give them credit for.

I think Pascoe gets a bad rep because she is a woman, and a lesbian, and I just wonder if the author was male, if these reviewers would attack her credibility so much. Regardless, I thank her for a research, well-done.

4.5
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24 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Don on October 12, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well first off I am a currently a freshman male in college required to read this book.

Dude You're a Fag is a very interesting review of the development of masculinity and gender in high school. The author Pascoe takes an observer role in a high school for 18 months. She treads the lines between student and adult therefore she manages to build a rapport with a great number of students. This method brought a great deal of information to her study that would have been otherwise impossible if she was an authority figure.

Although I found the examination presented in this book thought provoking, it was also extreme. Having just graduated from high school, I was very surprised to not relate to very many of the behaviors the students exhibited. While the students were hormonally laden and certain behaviors are expected, I was under the impression that the administrators and teachers did not care what went on in their school besides open sex education (which they cowered in fear of). There was a point in the book when a gay student recollected the bullying he faced where I almost had to stop reading the book. I know without a doubt most of the teen behavior described would not have been allowed and would have been disciplined at my high school. Maybe public school in Wisconsin are completely different, but I was simply appalled at the content of this book. I would be eager to read the results she would find by repeating the study in my high school. Then we could tell if the school was that bad or if there was some bias introduced.

So I guess in summary, I do recommend this book but not whole-heartedly. The basic themes identified and suggestions for improvement were all great, but I would caution all readers to not base their thoughts on teens and high school from this one account.
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