Publication Details

Donaldson, M, Studying Up: The Masculinity of the Hegemonic, Tomsen, S and Donaldson, M (eds), Male Trouble. Looking at Australian Masculinities, Pluto Press, North Melbourne, 2003, 156-179.


Ruling-class boys are taught early that they are inherently different from and essentially superior to other children. Toughening and distancing is one part of the relentless maturation process, which also concerns exclusion of those outside the class who are inherently inferior, and collusion and coherence within it. In addition to learning that they have particular social responsibilities, ruling-class children are taught that they have precious talents and abilities which are shielded and developed so that they may become the best that they know they will become. The boys are prodded as well as toughened and protected, learning also that friendship, even within their circle, is unreliable and dangerous because it threatens the distance established with such effort and maintained with such difficulty, between themselves and others. Such an upbringing produces men who are aloof; insecure; insensitive to their own and others' feelings, desires and mistreatment; capable of surface sociability rather than meaningful relationships. In this way the masculinity of the hegemonic is strongly affected by the maintenance and continuation of the class which shapes its character. Above all it teaches those who bear it, that it alone is the masculinity that they most need to survive in the world they create in their own image.