In this article, we consider Connell’s theory of masculinity through a phenomenon we encountered in our respective research projects, one focusing on the construction of masculinity among early Zionist ideological workers and the other focusing on present-day military masculinities and ethnicity in Israel. In both contexts, a bodily performance which marks the breach of “civilized behavior” is adopted in order to signify accentuated masculinity. In both, a symbolic hierarchy of masculinities emerges, in which Arabs—and in the case of Golani soldiers, also “Arab Jews,” that is, Jews who descended from Arab countries—are marked as more masculine than hegemonic Ashkenazi men (i.e., men of European descent). Thus, while our case studies support Connell’s argument that masculinity may be practiced in various ways, the hierarchical relationship between masculine styles appears to be more multilayered than Connell’s theory suggests. We connect the tension between masculine status, understood as a location within a symbolic hierarchy of masculinities, and social status in our case studies to the contradiction at the heart of modern masculinity. We argue that in order to account for this tension, which may arise in specific interactional contexts, we need a concept of masculinity as a cultural repertoire, of which people make situated selections. The repertoire of masculinity is where the elements and models that organize both masculine practice and perceptions concerning masculinity are stored. While selections from the repertoire of masculinity cannot be conceived as voluntary, the conventional nature of cultural repertoires allows for some leeway in the selections that people make. Hence, it allows for a more flexible relationship between social positions and masculine styles.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to thank Dana Kaplan, Kinneret Lahad, and the two anonymous reviewers of Men and Masculinities for their thoughtful comments on various versions of this article. The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
- hegemonic masculinity