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After The Wedding Night: Sexual Abstinence and Masculinities Over the Life Course

Sun, August 17, 10:30am to 12:10pm, TBA

Abstract

Purity is congruent with cultural understandings of femininity, but incongruent with normative definitions of masculinity. Using longitudinal qualitative data, this study seeks to understand the ways in which men who pledge abstinence until marriage negotiate and assert masculine identities. This study represents the first to uncover the mechanisms by which small-group abstinence pledges are successful, and the first to follow up with men after marriage. Using a framework that understands masculinities as a bloc made up of multiple categories that influence each other (Demetriou 2001), I find that men who pledge abstinence are not redefining masculinity. Rather, their experiences highlight the ways in which differing social situations and interactions define our understandings of gender. This work begins to trace the ways in which men who pledge abstinence until marriage shift their identities over time, from a less to more normative status. These findings complicate our understandings of the relationship between gender identity and the life course. As such, I argue that we should consider more longitudinal life course understandings of gender in our theories of masculinities.

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