Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

6-25-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Department of Graduate Psychology

Advisor(s)

Anne Stewart

Kenneth Critchfield

Robin Anderson

Matthew Ezzell

Kathleen Moore

Abstract

Toxic masculinity (TM) has emerged as a label for the western hegemonic masculine ideal, which is generally defined by the pressure for boys and men to be aggressive and dominant, restrict emotional expression, and marginalize women and others that do not adhere to these values (Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005; Kupers, 2005). This phenomenon increases the risk for male identified individuals to engage in general acts of bigotry, especially gender-based violence (APA, 2018; Baugher & Gazmararian, 2015; FBI, 2007; Feder, Levant, & Dean, 2010). A contemporary touchpoint associated with proliferating TM ideologies is participation in online anonymous “toxic technoculture” social network communities (Massanari, 2017; Salter, 2018). A timely investigation was conducted by Moloney and Love (2018) that explored the enactments of masculinity in virtual online spaces. They subsequently introduced the concept of Virtual Manhood Acts (VMA) which provides a framework to understand how masculinity is observed online. VMA were characterized as behaviors enacted to maintain a heterosexist environment and to oppress women and others in virtual social spaces. Prior to this study there was limited empirical understanding of how problematic and toxic enactments of masculinity, evident in society, are also enacted in virtual spaces. This study addresses the call to investigate enactments of VMA on other online social platforms. This qualitative investigation of the enactment of VMA was conducted on Reddit, the most popular social network website and seventh most trafficked website in North America (Hardwick, 2020, May 9). Data was captured before and after two publicized mass femicide events from two Manosphere connected Reddit community forums (r/IncelsWithoutHate & r/MensRights). The identified forums have been implicated as featuring misogynistic and bigoted ideological posts. Data was analyzed utilizing the a priori concept of VMA and a modified constructivist grounded theory approach (Charmaz, 2014). This hybrid deductive and inductive approach allowed for identifiable, novel, and divergent themes of manhood enactments to emerge. The results and implications of this study are discussed with select psychological frameworks and other fields of study in mind.

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