Masculinization is a term applied to the critique of
traditional academic discussions of the female offender and of popular depictions of
Masculinization refers to the attribution of male
characteristics to women in an attempt to understand their behavior rather than locating
women's behavior in female experience or structural location.
Freda Alder, for example, argued in 1975 that the women's
liberation movement would lead to an increase in female crime because liberation would
make women more like men.
Masculinization is also the abnormal development of male
sexual characteristics in a female resulting from hormone therapies or adrenal
The term masculinization is frequently used in a variety of
contexts as can be noted in the following abstracts and articles.
Self-perceived attractiveness and masculinization
predict womens sociosexuality - Andrew P. Clark - McMaster University
Abstract: Women vary with respect to monogamous / polyandrous inclinations, as indexed by
the Sociosexual Orientation Inventory (SOI). Possible sources of SOI variation include
variation in perceptions relating to the utility of different mating tactics and variation
in ones degree of masculinity / femininity, among other things. In three studies
with undergraduate participants SOI, an index of self-perceived attractiveness and two
measures of masculinization, namely scores on the Vandenberg Mental Rotation test (V-MRT)
and 2D:4D digit ratios, were measured.
Mentor Revealed: Masculinization of an Early
Feminist Construct - Gerald P. Koocher, Simons College
Abstract: Mentor Revealed: Masculinization of an Early Feminist Construct Johnson's (2002)
excellent paper on mentoring perpetuates a sexist stereotype in its portrayal of Mentor as
a male. Although a man named "Mentor," described in ancient Greek lyric poetry,
is the namesake of the concept; that character did not provide the wise nurturing behavior
ascribed to him. The actual source of "mentoring" was a celibate goddess
masquerading as Mentor. Few men in ancient Greek society would have accepted guidance from
a woman, even a goddess. Failing to understand mentoring as a concept with feminine roots
unintentionally perpetuates the demeaning trivialization of women's wisdom in a male
A regional analysis of estrogen binding to hypothalamic cell nuclei in relation to
masculinization and defeminization
EJ Nordeen and P Yahr - Journal of Neuroscience, Vol 3, 933-941
Gonadal steroids masculinize and defeminize neuroendocrine development, including
behavior. Defeminization makes males less sensitive than females to estrogen for showing
female sexual behavior and cyclic gonadotropin secretion. Masculinization makes males more
sensitive than females to estrogen for showing male sexual behavior. Thus masculinization
and defeminization produce opposite effects on estrogen sensitivity. To study the
relationship between estrogen sensitivity and estrogen binding, we studied sex differences
in estrogen binding to hypothalamic cell nuclei on a regional and temporal basis.
Decreased estrogen binding in the POA at 60 min may be a correlate of defeminized
gonadotropin secretion, whereas increased estrogen binding in the POA at 30 min may be a
correlate of masculinized sexual behavior. To test the hypothesis that decreased estrogen
binding in the MBH and POA are correlates of defeminization, we measured E2 binding at 60
min in female rats in which masculinization and defeminization were manipulated
independently. Defeminization decreased E2 binding to cell nuclei in both the POA and MBH
to the level seen in males at this time point. Masculinization had no effect at this time
point. The data suggest that sex differences in E2 binding to hypothalamic cell nuclei
correlate reliably with sex differences in estrogen sensitivity even though
masculinization and defeminization produce opposing effects on these parameters.
Puzzle: Exploring the Evolutionary Puzzle of Male Homosexuality by Louis Arthur Berman
Interview with Louis A. Berman
Q. You attempt to solve a puzzle within the context of
Darwinian theory, why are there homosexuals in all cultures and every generation, although
their sexual practice has no reproductive value?
A. We begin to explain that puzzle with the fact that the human body plan, including the
brain, is basically female. During the first six weeks of life, male and female embryos
look exactly alike. If an embryo is genetically equipped to become a male, at about six
weeks after conception, it begins to produce testosterone. This male hormone bathes the
embryo and masculinizes the individual's brain and sex organs.
Human body plan is basically female, just note that both males and females have nipples,
though only females need them. As newborns, infants, and even as pre-adolescents, boys and
girls often look very much alike except for their sex organs.
What we cannot see directly is how highly masculinized the boy's brain is. But we can see
all kinds of behavioral differences between the average boy and the average girl. It is
also obvious that there are wide variations in masculine behavior within a sizeable
population of boys.
At one extreme are boys who have a strong tendency to engage in rough-and-tumble play and
in seeking attention and dominance. At the other extreme, are those boys who would rather
play indoors, who like to play house or play school. They are so much like their sisters
(if they have sisters), they are sometimes called "sissy-boys." We say
these tendencies have a strong genetic component, and there is evidence that these
behavioral differences express differences in brain masculinization. Our theory holds that
these differences in brain masculinization occur because some brains are genetically
programmed to be more resistant to the masculinizing influence of testosterone than
At adolescence, there is another surge of testosterone, and this time it masculinizes the
boy's general physique. But if his brain was low-masculinized during his prenatal nine
months of life, he still has a low-masculinized brain. He may look very masculine, but
that's not how he thinks and feels and tends to act. I call these persons men with
low-masculinized brains: LMBs. Many get along very well in life. They become members of
other helping professions, like librarians, therapists, nurses, physicians and so on. LMB
men get married and raise families, and quite possibly are better husbands and fathers
than are highly masculinized males.
But about half the men with a low-masculinized brain syndrome are deeply troubled by the
fact that they don't feel as masculine as they look, and many of these persons try to make
up for this feeling of deficit by engaging in homosexual behavior.
Domesticating Masculinity and Masculinizing Domesticity in Contemporary U.S.
Abstract: The U.S. fatherhood responsibility movement has claimed that fathers have become
marginalized in the family, with catastrophic societal consequences. The fatherhood
responsibility movement seeks to reestablish the necessity of men in families,
constituting fatherhood as specifically male in differentiation from the feminizing
connotations of family involvement. However, by masculinizing fatherhood, proponents of
responsible fatherhood engage a century-long dilemma at the heart of constructing
particularly male versions of parenthood: How do you masculinize domesticity and at the
same time domesticate masculinity? The fatherhood responsibility movement deals with this
dilemma by converging on three long-standing and overlapping arenas for masculinization:
heterosexuality, sport, and religion.
GENDER AND NATIONALISM: THE MASCULINIZATION OF HINDUISM AND FEMALE POLITICAL
PARTICIPATION IN INDIA - Sikata Banerjee, Department of Women's Studies,
University of Victoria
Women's Studies International Forum, Volume 26, Number 2, March 2003, pp. 167-179(13)
Abstract: Feminist analysis has revealed the gendered nature of nations and nationalism.
Adopting such a perspective, this paper analyzes the relationship between the
masculinization of Hindu nationalism and female political participation. The image of an
aggressive male warrior is central to certain versions of Hindu nationalism or Hindutva in
contemporary India. This image is embedded within a political narrative, which declares
its affinity for ideas of resolute masculinity through an array of symbols, historic
icons, and myths. Given that Indian women are very visible in the politics of Hindutva,
this paper interrogates how women have created a political space for themselves in a very
masculinist narrative. This interrogation focuses on historical and cultural processes
that enabled this masculinization.
Rethinking Masculinized Tools: Machetes, Women's Work, and Suburban Yard
Abstract: This paper examines masculinization and colonial ideologies that immediately
come to surface at the intersection of "machete" and the suburbs in the United
States. By using the lens of feminist theory, we explore the contradictions in suburban
home maintenance discourse (gardening discourse in particular) and present texts and
images of women using and talking about the tools identified as masculine in Western
industrialized contexts. In such examples, we observe that using machetes in the
maintenance of suburban homes not only subverts unspoken rules about women and technology,
but also reveals a gendering process that intersects with class and race/ethnicity, as
well as those power relations that distinguish "third world" from "first
world" environments. We argue that masculinized and colonial images associated with
machetes renders invisible some women's work as well as their involvement in technology in
the global economy.
The Masculinization of Poverty: Gender and Global Restructing
Keith Nurse, Institute of International Relations, University of the West Indies, Trinidad
This paper is built on the premise that masculinism is a gendered ideology that is
socially constructed and therefore not static or immutable but shaped by the historical
and cultural context (Connell 1995; Peterson 1997).
Also, the paper operates with the concept of multiple masculinities (as well as multiple
femininities) rather than a single masculinity, because the norms and traits associated
with dominant or elite males are generally extrapolated as universal, which legitimizes
and normalizes hegemonic masculinity and marginalizes subordinate or subaltern
masculinities. The concept of multiple masculinities incorporates the intersection between
gender, ethnicity, race, sexuality, nation and empire (Connell 1995; Hooper 1998).
In addition, the paper views masculinism as deeply entrenched in the longue durée
of human history but historical, contingent and mutable (Peterson 1997).
Thus, contemporary masculinism is viewed as having its epistemological roots in modern
western thought which dichotomizes, differentiates and hierarchizes cultural values in
In the dominant masculinist discourse, the feminine is conceptualized and
actualized as the ontological Other to be mastered and controlled; the
masculine values, on the other hand, are taken as the prototype for human behaviour
(Persram 1994; Peterson 1997).
Behavioral and Physical Masculinization Are Related to Genotype in Girls with
Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia
Catherine M. Hall, Julie A. Jones, Heino F. L. Meyer-Bahlburg, Curtis Dolezal, Michelle
Coleman, Peter Foster, David A. Price and Peter E. Clayton
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 89, No. 1 419-424
Girls with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) exhibit behavioral masculinization. There
is controversy about the roles of pre- and postnatal androgens, social factors, and
chronic illness in its etiology.
To assess the effect of chronic illness, we compared behavioral masculinity in 24 CAH
girls and 25 diabetic girls aged 312 yr from Manchester using two sensitive
questionnaires, and an overall masculinity score M (high = masculine) was derived.
To assess the contributions of pre- and postnatal androgens, the CAH subjects were
categorized into genotype groups (G) according to the reported severity of loss of CYP21
function: G1 (n = 10, null mutations), G2 (n = 9, intron 2G), G3 (n = 3, I172N), and G4 (n
= 2, unknown loss of function). In CAH girls, relationships between G, Prader degree of
genital masculinization at birth, bone age advance, and M were assessed.
CAH girls, but not diabetic girls, demonstrated behavioral masculinization. Both physical
and behavioral masculinization were related to each other and to genotype, indicating that
behavioral masculinization is a consequence of prenatal androgen exposure.
Male sex drive and the masculinization of the genome
Rama S. Singh, Department of Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada, email:
Rama S. Singh
Rob J. Kulathinal, Department of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology, Harvard
University, Cambridge, MA, USA
Abstract: Charles Darwin remarked that males, with their superior strength, pugnacity,
armaments, unwieldly passion and love songs, are almost always the more active and most
often, the initiators of sexual interactions. Here, we propose that such male sex drive
directly impacts the genome by leading to its progressive masculinization - genes that
possess sex-specific effects on male fitness accumulate to a much greater extent and are
generally more diverged.
Contracting Masculinity: Gender, Class, and Race in a White-Collar Union,
1944-1994 by Gillian Creese, Heidi Gottfried
The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 106, No. 1 (Jul., 2000), pp. 271-273
Susan Bordo. 1986. "The Cartesian Masculinization of Thought." Signs.
Oedipus in the Stone Age: A Psychoanalytic Study of Masculinization in Papua New
Guinea by Theodore Lidz, Ruth Wilmanns Lidz, Harriette Dukeley
Borsuch, Michele D. Dominy, Gender and Society, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Mar., 1991), pp.
Masculinization and defeminization