The global cowboy: rural masculinities and sexualities



Publication Details

Gibson, C. (2013). The global cowboy: rural masculinities and sexualities. In A. Gorman-Murray, B. Pini & L. Bryant (Eds.), Sexuality, Rurality and Geography (pp. 199-218). Lanham: Lexington Books.


There is arguably no more iconic motif of rural masculinity than the cowboy. The cowboy is a persona, a stereotype, an ideology, and a style of manhood strongly associated with rurality. With origins in Mexico and the American West, cowboy imagery and identities were globalized in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and were adopted, mutated, and subverted in contexts as different as Hawai'i, urban Japan, and remote Aboriginal Australia. This chapter traces the historical emergence and diffusion of cowboy masculinity, arguing that key to its endurance has been its malleability-its multivalent combinations of hero worship, ambiguity, rural place-based associations, and expressiveness. If there is, as various geographers have suggested, now a "global rural" that necessitates analysis (Woods 2007; McCarthy 2008; Nelson and Nelson 2011), then one of its central characters must be the global cowboy.

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