"High school and the difficult terrain of sexuality and gender identity are brilliantly explored in this smart, incisive ethnography. Based on eighteen months of fieldwork in a racially diverse, working-class high school, Dude, You’re a Fag plumbs the dynamics of masculinity among high school boys and sheds new light on masculinity both as a field of meaning and as a set of social practices. C.J. Pascoe’s unorthodox approach analyzes masculinity as not only a gendered process but also as a sexual one. In immersing herself in the day-to-day life of her chosen school, she finds homophobia not only rampant throughout, but also tolerated by a faculty and administration who allow sexually suggestive and aggressive behavior by males under the dismissive guise of boys will be boys. She further finds that if these males are African American, the same behavior is more highly scrutinized and more likely to be punished.
Pascoe makes vivid and effective use the voices of the students themselves to describe their own complicated notions of sexuality. She demonstrates how the specter of the fag serves as a disciplinary mechanism useful in regulating heterosexual as well as homosexual boys and shows how the prevalent fag discourse is as much tied to gender as it is to sexuality. She adds the surprising discovery that masculine and lesbian-identified girls enjoy a higher social status than feminine boys. The book analyzes the practices and locutions of masculinity at multiple levels and across multiple school sites: in the weight room, the auto shop, a social science classroom, and the drama room. In investigating the widest spectrum of players - boys, girls, students, teachers, andadministrators - Pascoe is able to link their ideas of masculinity to the larger social problems of teen violence, homophobia, gender inequality, and education itself.”