“Cheryl's work diverges from the two existing theoretical approaches because it shows that — although male youth ice-hockey players at competitive levels use anti-gay language and sometimes find humour in the derision of femininity — they are more concerned with having teammates who are good people than having teammates who fit some kind of stereotypically masculine framework of identity,” says Marc Lafrance, her advisor, associate professor in the department and a specialist in the field of men and masculinity in contemporary society.
Homosexuality in the NHL
MacDonald’s study also ponders why there are no openly gay players in the NHL.
“Her research indicates that the fact that anti-gay and anti-woman behaviour is still acceptable in an ice-hockey context, despite being unacceptable elsewhere, could contribute to the lack of openly gay players in the NHL,” says Lafrance.
After speaking with players at length about their social and family lives, and examining their Twitter accounts, MacDonald found that male hockey players at competitive levels become proficient at compartmentalizing the different contexts of their lives.
“For example, they understand that a fist fight is okay on the ice, but not off,” she says. “That extends to the understanding that jokes about homosexuality are seen as acceptable in some situations but not others.”
“The players have been conditioned to see these jokes as harmless when used in team contexts, but they are well aware that these jokes are unacceptable at school or among family members,” says MacDonald, who’s originally from Moncton, New Brunswick.
A unique PhD: Social and Cultural Analysis
Christine Jourdan, professor of sociology and anthropology, was instrumental in ushering the bi-disciplinary PhD program into existence.
“Our innovative program requires that doctoral thesis committees be composed of both anthropologists and sociologists,” says Jourdan. “Additionally, students take courses in both disciplines and engage with literature in both fields.”
“I realized that sociology and anthropology often arrive at similar conclusions but do so using different approaches,” says MacDonald. “For me, the new anthropology literature on gender gives me a better, broader sense of what gender means.”
Learn more about Concordia's Department of Sociology and Anthropology and its PhD program in Social and Cultural Analysis.