Mama’s boy? mother-son bond as a resource for masculinity construction

Orit Bershtling, Roni Strier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The vibrant field of research about masculinities has rarely discussed mother-son relationships outside the classical psychoanalytic prism of gender identity development. The paper addresses this void by exploring men’s accounts of their identities as men through the lens of their relationships with their mothers within a societal context that identifies masculinity with separation from the mother and denial of her feminine traits. This qualitative study is based on in-depth interviews with 15 Israeli men who state they have close relationships with their mothers. The interviewees portray their mothers as significant models for key social capabilities. We contend that the transforming ideologies of manhood allow these men to describe this close dyad as a resource for a broader emotional vocabulary, heterosexual attractiveness, and for ascending the Israeli hierarchy of masculinity. Through their descriptions of the dyadic bond, they are in fact expanding the toolkit available to them for signifying their gender. These close dyadic relationships do not detract from their belonging to the category of ‘men’. Indeed, these men use these relationships to derive personal benefits and upgrade their social status vis-à-vis women as well as other men. These findings can contribute to the scholarly debate concerning the changing nature of masculinity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)610-622
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Gender Studies
Volume31
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • Masculinities
  • critical discourse analysis
  • motherhood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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