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High school and the difficult terrain of sexuality and gender identity are brilliantly explored in this smart, incisive ethnography.


Based on eighteen months of fieldwork in a racially diverse working-class high school, Dude, You're a Fag tells a story about how boys become men. Centering teens' voices and experience in school, Dude shows how boys attempt to meet contemporary expectations of masculinity by engaging in homophobic language and sexist behavior. They do this, Dude, shows, not because they bad people, but because of the high social costs of not doing so. Importantly, rather than provide a solution to the problems of homophobia and gender based harassment, the school itself embeds homophobic and sexist humor in activities, rituals and learning practices. This book not only documents important relationship between homophobic bullying and masculinity in high school but it also suggests ways we might begin to redefine gender norms that are damaging to both boys and girls. 

Also available in a Chinese translation

“This insightful peek into the realities of high school should be read by researchers, administrators, teachers, and parents. . . . Pascoe’s analysis is sophisticated, mapping the intricacies involved in the relationships between sexuality, gender, race, and class.” ― Men & Masculinities

“An incisive assessment.” ― Seattle Gay News

“Introspective, fascinating, consistently interesting.” ― Bay Area Reporter

“Current, typically salient, personally informative, [and] lively in style. . . . The exemplary fieldwork vignettes and case studies are abundant, rich, vivid, and experientially resonant. At the same time, [Pascoe] has thoroughly theorized her narrative, providing a fine conceptual vocabulary, a probing critical framework, and a set of intelligent practical recommendations.” ― General Anthropology Bulletin

"Pascoe is able to witness the quotidian rituals of heterosexual masculinity, its precariousness, its fragility and ultimately, its dangerous lashing out at all that can undermine it." ― Social Forces

"Pascoe gives a fly-on-the-wall experience of sexuality in high school." ― Journal of Gender Studies

"Pascoe's work challenges research on gender, and specifically masculinity, to address sexuality, race, and other significant factors as aspects of the social construction of masculinities." ― Gender & Society

"Usefully calls for a more sophisticated approach to issues surrounding teenage sexuality, masculinity and power than is generally enabled by uncritical applications of a generic notion of homophobia." ― Culture, Health, & Sexuality


"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, 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, 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, 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 ThorneGender Play: Girls and Boys in School

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