Abstract: Discourse Analysis of Conception of Masculinity Among Chinese Male Sexual Abuse Survivors (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

Discourse Analysis of Conception of Masculinity Among Chinese Male Sexual Abuse Survivors

Saturday, January 18, 2020
Independence BR B, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
TM Simon Chan, PhD, Associate Professor, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, China
Background and Purpose: Male survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the Chinese context have been neglected in academic and research fields for a long time perhaps because the current socio-political paradigms fail to explain the occurrence of male childhood sexual abuse. This exploratory study aims to fill in the research gap by exploring the concept of masculinity in organizing the help-seeking behavior of Chinese males in Hong Kong. 

Methods: The target informants were Chinese males who had experienced being abused in various relationships.  Twelve informants participated voluntarily in this research after they were found by snowball sampling, and an in-depth interview was employed to collect the data.  Discourse analysis was utilized to analyze the data. It was assumed that masculinity discourse would be evident in their use of language.  The form of discourse analysis used here was drawn from the analytical process advocated by James Paul Gee.  The primary focus was on the social construction of masculinity in the Chinese context through identities, practices and relationships. 

Results: Six discourse positions were highlighted, including a placating masculine identity, counter masculine identity, fragmented identity, masculinity-in-sex, identity-in-gender, and finally dark-side identity.  It is argued that a counter discourse of masculinity that challenges the dominate discourse is scarcely existed.

Following the ideology of masculinity discussed above, it has been argued that masculinity is a potential underlying factor that leads to the marginalization of men and establishes men, as well as women, as the products of the gender order. These perceptions of masculinity discussed have been argued to be relatively fixed that males are less likely to share accounts of past sexual abuse and are more likely to experience additional pressure as a result of distorted images of masculinity. Connell argued that although men do have privileges that arise from their masculinity, such privileges might have become disadvantages with the rise of the feminist movement. Masculinity may not render men superior or privileged in all circumstances, but it might dispose men to become the victims of a gendered social order, if their actual needs are not thoroughly investigated.

Conclusion and Implications: At the cultural level, social workers need to understand the constraints that arise from the cultural conception of masculinity, which affect how male IPA survivors express their experiences. Connell argued that general hegemonic masculinity may result in specific secondary victimization or re-victimization for those males who do not fulfil hegemonic expectations.  Therefore, the sensitivity of social workers towards their own local and personal conceptions of masculinity will inevitably shape their approach to assessment and intervention.  Finally, they should bear in mind the lens of masculinity in their own culture, which contributes to shaping disclosure behavior.  The implications for social work practice include promotion of guidelines for the development of gender-sensitive practices.  It also involves training in IPA services in the Chinese community in terms of male-focused service delivery and gender-specific practice theory and skills to facilitate the disclosure of male IPA survivors.