Men, culture and hegemonic masculinity: understanding the experience of prostate cancer

Nursing Inquiry 12 (2):87-97 (2005)
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Abstract

Men, culture and hegemonic masculinity: understanding the experience of prostate cancer Following a diagnosis of, and treatment for prostate cancer, there is an expectation that men will cope with, adjust to and accept the psychosocial impact on their lives and relationships. Yet, there is a limited qualitative world literature investigating the psychosocial experience of prostate cancer, and almost no literature exploring how masculinity mediates in such an experience. This paper will suggest that the experience of prostate cancer, the process by which it is investigated, and the way in which it is understood has been shaped by an essentialist interpretation of gender, exemplified by hegemonic masculinity as the archetypal mechanism of male adaptation. In response to this static and limiting view of masculinity, this paper will offer a reframe of hegemonic masculinity. This reframe, being more aligned with common experience, will portray masculinity as a dynamic and contextual construct, better understood as one of a number of cultural reference points around which each man organises and adopts behaviour. It will be suggested that the extant literature, in being organised around hegemonic masculinity, obfuscates the experience of prostate cancer and acts to render covert any collateral masculinities, public or private, that may also be operating.

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