Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 421–430 | Cite as

“I Kiss Them Because I Love Them”: The Emergence of Heterosexual Men Kissing in British Institutes of Education

Original Paper


In this article, we combined data from 145 interviews and three ethnographic investigations of heterosexual male students in the U.K. from multiple educational settings. Our results indicate that 89% have, at some point, kissed another male on the lips which they reported as being non-sexual: a means of expressing platonic affection among heterosexual friends. Moreover, 37% also reported engaging in sustained same-sex kissing, something they construed as non-sexual and non-homosexual. Although the students in our study understood that this type of kissing remains somewhat culturally symbolized as a taboo sexual behavior, they nonetheless reconstructed it, making it compatible with heteromasculinity by recoding it as homosocial. We hypothesize that both these types of kissing behaviors are increasingly permissible due to rapidly decreasing levels of cultural homophobia. Furthermore, we argue that there has been a loosening of the restricted physical and emotional boundaries of traditional heteromasculinity in these educational settings, something which may also gradually assist in the erosion of prevailing heterosexual hegemony.


Heteromasculinity Students Kissing Affection Men 


  1. Almaguer, T. (1991). Chicano men: A cartography of homosexual identity and behavior differences. Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 3, 75–100.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, E. (2005a). In the game: Gay athletes and the cult of masculinity. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson, E. (2005b). Orthodox and inclusive masculinity: Competing masculinities among heterosexual men in a feminized terrain. Sociological Perspectives, 48, 337–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Anderson, E. (2008). “Being masculine is not about who you sleep with…:” Heterosexual athletes contesting masculinity and the one-time rule of homosexuality. Sex Roles, 58, 104–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Anderson, E. (2009). Inclusive masculinity: The changing nature of masculinities. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Bourdieu, P. (2001). Masculine domination. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Butler, J. (1990). Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Connell, R. W. (1995). Masculinities. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  9. Connell, R. W., & Messerschmidt, J. W. (2005). Hegemonic masculinity: Rethinking the concept. Gender & Society, 19, 829–859.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dinshaw, C. (1994). A kiss is just a kiss: Heterosexuality and its consolations in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Diacritics, 24, 204–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Emerson, J. (1969). Negotiating the serious import of humor. Sociometry, 32, 169–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Epstein, D., Kehily, M., Mac an Ghaill, M., & Redman, P. (2001). Boys and girls come out to play: Making masculinities and femininities in school playgrounds. Men and Masculinities, 4, 158–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fox, K. (2004). Watching the English: The hidden rules of English behavior. London: Hodder & Stoughton.Google Scholar
  14. Gubrium, J., & Holstein, J. (1997). The new language of qualitative method. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Harris, M. (1964). Patterns of race in the Americas. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  16. Ibson, J. (2002). Picturing men: A century of male relationships in everyday life. Washington, DC: Smithsonian.Google Scholar
  17. Kaplan, D. (2006). Public intimacy: Dynamics of seduction in male homosocial interactions. Symbolic Interaction, 28, 571–595.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kimmel, M. (1994). Masculinity as homophobia: Fear, shame and silence in the construction of gender identity. In H. Brod & M. Kaufman (Eds.), Theorizing masculinities (pp. 119–141). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  19. Klein, A. (1993). Little big men: Bodybuilding subculture and gender construction. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  20. Lancaster, R. (1988). Subject honor and object shame: The construction of male homosexuality and stigma in Nicaragua. Ethnology, 27, 111–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mac an Ghaill, M. (1994). The making of men. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  22. McCormack, M. (2010). The declining significance of homohysteria for male students in three-sixth forms in the south of England. British Educational Research Journal, iFirst, 1–17.Google Scholar
  23. McCormack, M. (2011). School boys, sexuality and friendship: The emergence of the gay friendly high school. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. McCormack, M., & Anderson, E. (2010) “It’s just not acceptable  anymore”: The erosion of homophobia and the softening of masculinity  in an English state school. Sociology, 44(5), 17–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Messner, M. (2002). Taking the field: Women, men and sports. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  26. Neuwer, H. (2004). The hazing reader. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Pascoe, C. J. (2003). Multiple masculinities: Teenage boys talk about jocks and gender. American Behavioural Scientist, 46, 1423–1438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Peralta, R. (2007). College alcohol and the embodiment of hegemonic masculinity among European American men. Sex Roles, 56, 741–756.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Plummer, D. (1999). One of the boys: Masculinity, homophobia and modern manhood. New York: Harrington Park Press.Google Scholar
  30. Pronger, B. (1990). The arena of masculinity: Sports, homosexuality and the meaning of sex. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  31. Reis, A. (1961). The social integration of peers and queers. Social Problems, 9, 102–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rich, A. (1980). Compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence. Signs, 5, 631–660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schwartz, P. (1995). The science of sexuality still needs social science. The Scientist, 9, 12.Google Scholar
  34. Schwartz, P., & Rutter, V. (2000). The gender of sexuality. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.Google Scholar
  35. Sedgwick, E. K. (1990). Epistemology of the closet. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  36. Van de Ven, P. (1994). Comparisons among homophobic reactions of undergraduates, high school students, and young offenders. Journal of Sex Research, 31, 117–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. West, L. (2001). Negotiating masculinities in American drinking subcultures. Journal of Men’s Studies, 9, 371–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EducationUniversity of BathBathUK
  2. 2.School of Sport and EducationBrunel UniversityUxbridgeUK

Personalised recommendations