Strategic Practices

Hidden Histories of Gender in Finland 1880–2005

Why Gender? University of Jyväskylä 9th-10th of October 2009

Masculinities & performativity

Location: AgD121.1 (lower floor).


Friday (October 9)

15:00-15:30 Michele Rene Gregory (York college/(CUNY), New York, USA): Who’s A Good Sport? Sports Metaphors, Strategies and Masculinities at Work

15:30-16:00 Ian Wellard (Canterbury Christ Church University, UK): Sport, Masculinities and the Body: an exploration

16:00-16:30 Johanna Mykkänen (University of Jyväskylä): First time fatherhood and emotional agency

16:30-17:00 Kaisa Nissi (University of Jyväskylä): Construction of Masculinity in Multi-Cultural Families in Finland

Saturday (October 10)

9:00-9:30 Ville Sarkamo (University of Jyväskylä): Honour, Body and Masculinity. Officer’s role as a ‘warrior’ in the 18th century military culture in Sweden

9:30-10:00 Matleena Frisk (University of Helsinki) : Consumer goods and renegotiations of masculinity in the 1960’s Finland

10:00-10:30 Rebekah Rousi (University of Jyväskylä): Moving in on the narrative of ‘strong Finnish women’ or a new type of corporate masculinity? Mika Ihamuotila’s place in the leadership narratives of Marimekko


Approved participants in alphaphetical order

Frisk, Matleena: Consumer goods and renegotiations of masculinity in the 1960’s Finland

During the 1960’s, new consumer goods and changing living standards, enabled new ways to perform gender, to create gendered self-image and identity, and to discoursively negotiate normative categories of gender. As an example of the more detailed care of the body was now required for to achieve and maintain attractiveness, I concentrate in negotiations of whether it was acceptable for a man to use hygiene products such as deodorant or whether smelling good makes a man seem feminine or foreign (scents were connected to both women and Southern European men). This conversation was frequent in commercial popular culture magazine Suosikki, directed to adolescent audience. New products were financially available to more young people, and were heavily advertised, but also very basic changes took place: Possibility to maintain higher standards of hygiene in a bathroom instead of a weekly bath in a sauna, was a precondition to paying more attention to smells. Following broadly Pierre Bourdieu’s thinking I claim that structure and action should not be separated. Subject is making more or less conscious choices, performing gender, in a given, historical situation. Gender history written from the perspective of hygiene, underwear, silhouette, smells, facial expressions can be contrasted to competing discoursive interpretations of adolescent females and males of this period during which so called “Sexual revolution” took place.

Gregory, Michele Rene: Who’s A Good Sport? Sports Metaphors, Strategies and Masculinities at Work

Using a combination of theoretical frameworks, empirical research and secondary data, this paper will analyze how sports as a component of workplace behavior and acceptance give rise to various forms of workplace inequality. The primacy of sports in the construction of masculinity in Western countries has been documented (Connell, 2005; Messner, 1992), as has the importance of professional men’s sports (Knoppers & Anthonissen, 2005). As white upper class men dominate the most esteemed organizational positions in countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (Connell & Wood, 2005; Hearn & Parkin, 2001; Johnson, 2005; Wajcman, 1998), examining the relationship between athletic games and the embodiment of masculinities at work and marginalized groups is vital. Key questions that this paper will address are: how does white-collar professional work embody hegemonic athletic masculinities? Similarly, how are competitive sports: language, metaphors, knowledge and strategic positioning part of organizations’ ethos, affecting practices of inclusion and exclusion? Practices of inclusion and exclusion can pertain to work networks, valued projects, recruitment and promotion. Moreover, groups who may be singled out as not being interested in, or embodying an athletic existence may include women, certain races and ethnicities, gay men, non-athletic men and the disabled. It is the goal of this paper to add to the discourse around workplace inequality, and to critically examine employers’ and employees’ essentialist ideas about gendered sports knowledge and abilities.

Mykkänen, Johanna: First time fatherhood and emotional agency

Becoming a father is a turning point in a man’s life. Fatherhood changes man himself and his life as a whole – and evokes emotions. Today’s culture of fatherhood has entailed higher expectations for father involvement in the care of young children. Today’s fathers are ideally more nurturing, develop closer emotional relationships with their children, and share the joys and work of caregiving with mothers. But father’s emotions has been discounted, or at least poorly documented. Emotions are seen as unintended and uncontrollable, they are seen dangerous and render men’s vulnerable. Showing and experiencing emotions has been women’s birthright, when men are left in the margin. In this study I’ve listened father’s voice, their stories and emotions of beginning fatherhood. I interviewed 27 first time fathers (aged 21 to 44 years). In this paper, I’ll concentrate on the way fathers talked about their feelings and expressed their emotional agency during their time to fatherhood. By ‘emotional agency’ I mean men’s capability of noticing, naming and interpreting his own emotions. This can be called also reflection of emotions. I used narrativity, modality and focality analyzing the narratives. On the path to fatherhood, many men underwent “emotional surprises”, that is, confronting new, awakening, strong and some times quiescent emotions. Men highlighted for instance joy, closeness, love, self-sacrificiness, helplessness, anger, confusion and the feeling of being an outsider. In men’s narratives, the agency of emotions can be categorized in strong or weak. I also extracted four emotional speech -types that characterized the way men described their experiences and emotions concerning the delivery. The types were ‘empathizers’, ‘hesitaters’, ‘reporters’ and ‘humorists’.

Nissi, Kaisa: Construction of Masculinity in Multi-Cultural Families in Finland

My proposal concerns the multicultural families and couples in Finland. My focus is on multicultural marriages in which men are immigrants from an Islamic country with a Muslim background and wives have Finnish background. In this paper I will examine the construction of masculinity and gender through immigrant Muslim men in Finland. I study the identities, power and the expectations of the roles that people have in their relationships. I also analyze the negotiations of gender roles and parenthood in a relationship with two cultures and religions. Terms as space, power and gender are core concepts for my study. Space between two cultures, changing cultural and religious identities and the spatial aspects of gender are in my focus. Religious rules and ideas (Islamic - Lutheran/secular) may cause the conflicts between the spouses, but also guide their everyday life. I analyze the masculinity as a cultural construction using terms as honour, space and community. Methodologically I concentrate on the perspective of the interviewed. Phenomenology, subjectivity and the subjective perception of the self will conduct my analysis. My main material consists of theme interviews that I have collected for my Ph D research project.

Rousi, Rebekah: Moving in on the narrative of ‘strong Finnish women’ or a new type of corporate masculinity? Mika Ihamuotila’s place in the leadership narratives of Marimekko

This paper discusses a problem I am facing in my PhD research which deals with the inclusion of Mika Ihamuotila in the leadership narratives of the Finnish textile company Marimekko. “Marimekko was set up by women for women” states journalist Hannah Booth of the Guardian Online (2005). As seen in numerous press entries, the narratives of the previous Finnish women leaders, founder Armi Ratia (1951-1979), and recent CEO Kirsti Paakkanen (1991-2008) have been integral to the construction of the company’s corporate image. The images that have been established in the media can be likened to discussions by Anu Koivunen (2003) who draws on comparisons made within interpretive frames (media texts, reviews, advertisements etc.) between public women figures such as politicians, and culturalised images of ‘strong Finnish women’ established in literature (Niskavuori stories) and folklore (Kalevala). In my data analysis I have observed attempts to draw Mika Ihamuotila into the narratives, of mostly Armi Ratia, by mapping out life parallels and appropriating business concepts and phrases. At the same time as media texts are constructing Mika Ihamuotila’s image to echo that of Armi Ratia, they are also elaborately articulating his heterosexual masculine identity by emphasising his family life, and previous career as an over achieving banker. Thus, in this paper I would like to explore the questions of whether or not, in order to save Marimekko’s Corporate image, Mika Ihamuotila is being drawn into the narratives of women, or whether he is in fact performing a new form of corporate masculinity?

Sarkamo, Ville: Honour, Body and Masculinity. Officer’s role as a ‘warrior’ in the 18th century military culture in Sweden

In this upcoming paper/presentation my aim is to show how conceptions of military honour and physical commitment to serve King and country played a central role in the lives of the Karoliner. These were the mainly Swedish and Finnish soldiers of Charles XII who fought for the kingdom of Sweden in the Great Northern War (1700–1721). For the people of the time, these two factors strictly controlled the character, thought, speech, habits, actions and decisions of the military, or, put more simply, their whole way of life. The military code of honour created an idealistic picture of the model military man. An officer must be honourable because he could then live as he was expected to live in his society. He had the right to be treated with the respect due to a man of his standing. An honourable man had the right to a livelihood and a decent position in society. In order to obtain that respect, a military person had to present himself as a ‘warrior’, a person who had offered his body to the service of his king and country. This was the masculine ideal against which officers had to measure themselves, and they consequently represented their actions in a manner that satisfied the requirements of this ideal. In this sense, masculinity, honour and the body were closely linked.

Wellard, Ian: Sport, Masculinities and the Body: an exploration.

Within the field of sport there is still an expectation for presentations of specific forms of masculinity (Wellard 2009). Simple gender definitions are inadequate in explaining the complexities of negotiating the performances either expected or required. Successful bodily performances, therefore, are significant in subsequent participation (Wellard 2006). Drawing upon theoretical and empirical evidence (including sporting life histories conducted with over forty men), this paper explores the ways in which ‘appropriate’ sporting masculinities are learned and enacted. Ultimately, the evidence presented suggests that current practices in sport continue to reaffirm a broader social definition of masculinity which, in turn, continues to be at odds with calls for inclusion and wider participation and claims that multiple gendered identities are freely available. The lived experiences of a range of men who participate at different levels, and approach sport from a variety of backgrounds, suggests that theoretical discussions on sport, the body and gender need to remain in touch with the everyday performances expected at ground level. Consequently, this paper explores whether it is still relevant to consider sport as a significant site for the making and remaking of hegemonic masculinities (Connell 2005). It also demonstrates the importance of recognising the significance of body practices as a central means through which these masculinities are formed.

Last update 5.10.2009.

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