THE ARENA OF MASCULINITY: Sports, Homosexuality, and the Meaning of Sex by Brian Pronger

THE ARENA OF MASCULINITY: Sports, Homosexuality, and the Meaning of Sex

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Here, Pronger, a research fellow at the Univ. of Toronto, attempts to probe contemporary gay sensibility, the psychology of homophobia, the semiotics of sports, the politics of ""camp,"" and general human sexuality--all in fewer than 300 pages of anecdotal journalism and patchwork philosophizing. Focusing exclusively on males, Pronger treats gays as ""erotic ironists"" whose ""reverence for and violation of masculinity"" expose ""the myths of gender"" and subvert Western patriarchy. Sports are therefore an ultimate guerrilla theater of the gonads that glorifies the vide body and makes men more vulnerable to ""the gay gaze."" Scattered throughout are revealing interviews with 34 athletes, both gay and straight, who discuss homoerotic undercurrents in football, the growth of gay sports organizations, locker-room ""cruising,"" gay imagery in mainstream media, and even the mythos of the jockstrap. However, Pronger (himself gay) digresses into a pretentious, repetitive treatise on homosexuality's ""psychic dimension."" Here, he is inspired by Quentin Crisp's masochistic statement that a gay man's ideal man can't be a ""real"" man if he is gay. Gays are, Pronger says, in turn blessed (or cursed) with the gift of ""paradox"" as they deconstruct a ""world of masculinity that begs to be undermined."" Quoting liberally from Plato to Foucault, Pronger ultimately touts the existentialist view that gayness is somehow a consciously chosen mandate. Ignoring such factors as pheromones in determining sexual attraction, Pronger's intellectually strained, highly derivative, and structurally untidy ""study"" begs more questions than it answers and unwittingly pressures gays into being chronic pariahs.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1990
Publisher: St. Martins