Rima Wilkes

Professor

Relevant Degree Programs

 

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2019)
Masculinity, sexual identity, and the life experiences of American adolescent men (2014)

Demonstrating and defending one’s masculinity is an integral part of the adolescent male experience. Adolescent men earn their masculinity by engaging in performances of masculinity, which include concealing emotions, aggression, and athleticism. While men who give convincing performances of masculinity earn status and power, those who are unable to are victimized and ostracized. In this dissertation, I investigate the influence of masculinity on adolescent men’s lives through an analysis of the experiences of adolescents who participated in the National Adolescent Health study (ADD Health). My principle aim is to examine how performances of masculinity relate to important aspects of adolescents’ lives. I examine the relationship between men’s performances of masculinity and their sexual identity. Many scholars posit that heterosexuals are more masculine than non-heterosexuals. I argue that these scholars fail to take into account that men’s use of homophobia to police masculinity biases people to erroneously perceive non-heterosexuals as less masculine than heterosexuals. The analysis of the ADD Health data confirms my argument; there is no difference between heterosexual and non-heterosexual men’s masculinity. I also explore how adolescents’ performances of masculinity and sexual identity affect their relationships with peers, life satisfaction, and risk-taking. I examine these life experiences because they strongly influence adolescents’ development. The analyses indicate that concealing emotions does not strongly relate to adolescents’ life experiences. Athleticism, however, leads to better peer relationships and greater life satisfaction, while aggression has a deleterious effect on peer relationships and life satisfaction as well as increases risk-taking. Sexual identity has almost no influence on life experiences. These findings have implications for future research. First, adolescent men’s performances of masculinity entail several different sets of behaviours that each uniquely influences life experiences. Consequently, researchers need to consider masculinity as a multidimensional construct. Second, there is no evidence that non-heterosexuals are less masculine than heterosexuals. Scholars exploring sexuality and masculinity must take into account how assumptions about sexuality and masculinity might be impacting their research. Third, performances of masculinity effect several aspects of adolescent men’s lives. Future research must focus on masculinity, and not just biological sex, when attempting to understand men’s experiences.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Damsels and darlings : will we ever see playable, sexually empowered women in video games? (2018)

Gender stereotypes are a known issue in video games, where female characters are often hyper-sexualized and relegated to disempowering roles. Numerous quantitative studies paint a grim picture of video game communities as hyper-masculine spaces complicit in reproducing harmful gender ideologies. Missing from the literature are qualitative inquiries of the meaning gamers assign to their engagement with a medium that is known for underrepresenting and objectifying women. This study uses qualitative textual content analysis of an influential, popular Internet video game forum—the largest of its kind— where gamers respond to questions posed by members about gender in video games. My findings show that gamers centralize the role of sexual agency and sexual empowerment to construct multiple, nuanced discourses for understanding gender stereotypes in games. These discourses mirror broader feminist debates about the achievability of sexual empowerment within hyper-sexualized cultural contexts. As video games grow in popularity, their ability to generate meaning among increasingly diverse audiences requires continued investigation. By engaging with gamers as they make sense of gender representation in games, researchers can glean insight into the many ways gamers envision change within the video game industry.

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News Releases

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Member of G+PS
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