Sexuality Research & Social Policy

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 25-40

First online:

Enacting masculinity: Antigay violence and group rape as participatory theater

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Two frequent types of violence by young men in groups are rapes of women and assaults on perceived gay men. This article draws on scholarship from multiple disciplines to propose a theoretical linkage between these two seemingly disparate forms of violence. It proposes that the two forms of violence serve near-identical functions for certain young men. These functions include social bonding, the celebration of power, and the public display of heterosexual masculinity through the subordination of women and men perceived as feminine. In other words, group rape of women and violence against homosexuals are parallel forms of cultural theater, with the victims serving as interchangeable dramatic props. This argument is advanced through an examination of a 2003 case in which athletes from Mepham High School in Long Island, New York, sexually assaulted their younger teammates during a week-long summer training camp.

Key words

gang rape gay-bashing violent offenders sex offending social norms