Sociology Index


Masculinization is a term applied to the critique of traditional academic discussions of the female offender and of popular depictions of female criminality. Masculinization refers to the attribution of male characteristics to women in an attempt to understand their behavior rather than locating women's behavior in female experience or structural location.

Freda Alder, for example, argued in 1975 that the women's movement would lead to an increase in female crime because liberation would make women more like men.

Masculinization is also the abnormal development of male sexual characteristics in a female resulting from hormone therapies or adrenal malfunction. The term masculine female identifies members of the female sex who demonstrate masculine features.

The term masculinization is frequently used in a variety of contexts as can be noted in the following abstracts and articles.

Self-perceived attractiveness and masculinization predict women’s sociosexuality - Andrew P. Clark - McMaster University.

Abstract: In three studies with undergraduate participants SOI, an index of self-perceived attractiveness and two measures of masculinization, namely scores on the Vandenberg Mental Rotation test (V-MRT) and 2D:4D digit ratios, were measured.

Mentor Revealed: Masculinization of an Early Feminist Construct - Gerald P. Koocher, Simons College
Abstract: Mentor Revealed: Masculinization of an Early Feminist Construct Johnson's (2002) excellent paper on mentoring perpetuates a sexist stereotype in its portrayal of Mentor as a male.
A regional analysis of estrogen binding to hypothalamic cell nuclei in relation to masculinization and defeminization
EJ Nordeen and P Yahr - Journal of Neuroscience, Vol 3, 933-941.
Masculinization makes males more sensitive than females to estrogen for showing male sexual behavior. Thus masculinization and defeminization produce opposite effects on estrogen sensitivity. To test the hypothesis that decreased estrogen binding in the MBH and POA are correlates of defeminization, we measured E2 binding at 60 min in female rats in which masculinization and defeminization were manipulated independently. Defeminization decreased E2 binding to cell nuclei in both the POA and MBH to the level seen in males at this time point. Masculinization had no effect at this time point. The data suggest that sex differences in E2 binding to hypothalamic cell nuclei correlate reliably with sex differences in estrogen sensitivity even though masculinization and defeminization produce opposing effects on these parameters.

The Puzzle: Exploring the Evolutionary Puzzle of Male Homosexuality by Louis Arthur Berman

Interview with Louis A. Berman

Q. You attempt to solve a puzzle within the context of Darwinian theory, why are there homosexuals in all cultures and every generation, although their sexual practice has no reproductive value?
A. We begin to explain that puzzle with the fact that the human body plan, including the brain, is basically female. During the first six weeks of life, male and female embryos look exactly alike. If an embryo is genetically equipped to become a male, at about six weeks after conception, it begins to produce testosterone. This male hormone bathes the embryo and masculinizes the individual's brain and sex organs.
Human body plan is basically female, just note that both males and females have nipples, though only females need them. As newborns, infants, and even as pre-adolescents, boys and girls often look very much alike except for their sex organs.
At one extreme are boys who have a strong tendency to engage in rough-and-tumble play and in seeking attention and dominance. At the other extreme, are those boys who would rather play indoors, who like to play house or play school. They are so much like their sisters (if they have sisters), they are sometimes called sissy-boys. We say these tendencies have a strong genetic component, and there is evidence that these behavioral differences express differences in brain masculinization. Our theory holds that these differences in brain masculinization occur because some brains are genetically programmed to be more resistant to the masculinizing influence of testosterone than others.
Domesticating Masculinity and Masculinizing Domesticity in Contemporary U.S. Fatherhood Politics
Abstract: The U.S. fatherhood responsibility movement has claimed that fathers have become marginalized in the family, with catastrophic societal consequences. The fatherhood responsibility movement seeks to reestablish the necessity of men in families, constituting fatherhood as specifically male in differentiation from the feminizing connotations of family involvement. However, by masculinizing fatherhood, proponents of responsible fatherhood engage a century-long dilemma at the heart of constructing particularly male versions of parenthood: How do you masculinize domesticity and at the same time domesticate masculinity? The fatherhood responsibility movement deals with this dilemma by converging on three long-standing and overlapping arenas for masculinization: heterosexuality, sport, and religion.

Women's Studies International Forum, Volume 26, Number 2, March 2003, pp. 167-179(13)
Abstract: Feminist analysis has revealed the gendered nature of nations and nationalism. Adopting such a perspective, this paper analyzes the relationship between the masculinization of Hindu nationalism and female political participation. The image of an aggressive male warrior is central to certain versions of Hindu nationalism or Hindutva in contemporary India. This image is embedded within a political narrative, which declares its affinity for ideas of resolute masculinity through an array of symbols, historic icons, and myths. Given that Indian women are very visible in the politics of Hindutva, this paper interrogates how women have created a political space for themselves in a very masculinist narrative. This interrogation focuses on historical and cultural processes that enabled this masculinization.

Rethinking Masculinized Tools: Machetes, Women's Work, and Suburban Yard Maintenance
Abstract: This paper examines masculinization and colonial ideologies that immediately come to surface at the intersection of machete and the suburbs in the United States. By using the lens of feminist theory, we explore the contradictions in suburban home maintenance discourse (gardening discourse in particular) and present texts and images of women using and talking about the tools identified as masculine in Western industrialized contexts. In such examples, we observe that using machetes in the maintenance of suburban homes not only subverts unspoken rules about women and technology, but also reveals a gendering process that intersects with class and race/ethnicity, as well as those power relations that distinguish "third world from first world environments. We argue that masculinized and colonial images associated with machetes renders invisible some women's work as well as their involvement in technology in the global economy.

The Masculinization of Poverty: Gender and Global Restructing
Keith Nurse, Institute of International Relations, University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago
This paper is built on the premise that masculinism is a gendered ideology that is socially constructed and therefore not static or immutable but shaped by the historical and cultural context (Connell 1995; Peterson 1997).
Also, the paper operates with the concept of multiple masculinities (as well as multiple femininities) rather than a single masculinity, because the norms and traits associated with dominant or elite males are generally extrapolated as universal, which legitimizes and normalizes hegemonic masculinity and marginalizes subordinate or subaltern masculinities. The concept of multiple masculinities incorporates the intersection between gender, ethnicity, race, sexuality, nation and empire (Connell 1995; Hooper 1998).
Thus, contemporary masculinism is viewed as having its epistemological roots in modern western thought which dichotomizes, differentiates and hierarchizes cultural values in binary opposites.
In the dominant masculinist discourse, the “feminine is conceptualized and actualized as the ontological Other to be mastered and controlled; the masculine values, on the other hand, are taken as the prototype for human behaviour (Persram 1994; Peterson 1997).

Behavioral and Physical Masculinization Are Related to Genotype in Girls with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia
Catherine M. Hall, Julie A. Jones, Heino F. L. Meyer-Bahlburg, Curtis Dolezal, Michelle Coleman, Peter Foster, David A. Price and Peter E. Clayton.
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 89, No. 1 419-424
Girls with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) exhibit behavioral masculinization. There is controversy about the roles of pre- and postnatal androgens, social factors, and chronic illness in its etiology. 
To assess the effect of chronic illness, we compared behavioral masculinity in 24 CAH girls and 25 diabetic girls aged 3-12 yr from Manchester using two sensitive questionnaires, and an overall masculinity score M (high = masculine) was derived. 
To assess the contributions of pre- and postnatal androgens, the CAH subjects were categorized into genotype groups (G) according to the reported severity of loss of CYP21 function: G1 (n = 10, null mutations), G2 (n = 9, intron 2G), G3 (n = 3, I172N), and G4 (n = 2, unknown loss of function). In CAH girls, relationships between G, Prader degree of genital masculinization at birth, bone age advance, and M were assessed.
CAH girls, but not diabetic girls, demonstrated behavioral masculinization. Both physical and behavioral masculinization were related to each other and to genotype, indicating that behavioral masculinization is a consequence of prenatal androgen exposure.

Male sex drive and the masculinization of the genome
Rama S. Singh, Department of Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada, email: Rama S. Singh.
Rob J. Kulathinal, Department of Organismic, Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
Abstract: Charles Darwin remarked that males, with their superior strength, pugnacity, armaments, unwieldly passion and love songs, are almost always the more active and most often, the initiators of sexual interactions. Here, we propose that such male sex drive directly impacts the genome by leading to its progressive masculinization - genes that possess sex-specific effects on male fitness accumulate to a much greater extent and are generally more diverged.

Contracting Masculinity: Gender, Class, and Race in a White-Collar Union, 1944-1994 by Gillian Creese, Heidi Gottfried
The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 106, No. 1 (Jul., 2000), pp. 271-273

Susan Bordo. 1986. "The Cartesian Masculinization of Thought." Signs.

Oedipus in the Stone Age: A Psychoanalytic Study of Masculinization in Papua New Guinea by Theodore Lidz, Ruth Wilmanns Lidz, Harriette Dukeley Borsuch, Michele D. Dominy, Gender and Society, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Mar., 1991), pp. 128-131

Masculinization and defeminization.