Help with Masculinity Research

Hi, I am doing some qualitative research into MMA fighters, and their constructions of masculinity.

My problem is that i have never done any research before, and was wondering if anyone had any suggestions what kind of questions i should ask to find out about their constructions of masculinity? or masculinity in general.

Thanks very much.

BigBash, what class is this for? I'm guessing it's for a Sociology class, but is it a research methods or gender class? If I know this I could probably help you out a bit more.

I'm currently doing my MA in Sociology, and I just got hired in the Women's Studies department, and my main contact in the Women's Studies department almost exclusively works with masculinity and its constructions... I don't know what your exact take on gender/masculinty is or what your skill level is, but if you give me a bit of feel of what you're going for I can most likely direct you to some articles or other materials.

thanks for the reply. i am a third year socioloy undergrad. The research is actuallly for my dissertation.

I am looking at wether MMA is a solution to the crisis of masculinity, and wether the participants of MMA are really as hypermasculine as one would assume. Its my experience that alot of fighters started training because they were being bullied/it gave them more confidence etc.

thanks once again.

Hmmm... interesting.

Now I've got a couple of questions based on your reply:

1) Are you saying that MMA "solves" the crisis of masculinity (that is, MMA redeploys a new male model of [hyper] masculinty to be re-inserted in the gender system that re-establishes the gender binary), or are you saying that it "solves" the crisis by shattering or deconstructing the traditional gender system?

I'm asking this because, in my opinion, I think that MMA problematizes the gender system by "queering" the category of masculinity. Simply, I don't think the MMA athlete or the actual spectacle of MMA can be easily inserted into traditional notion of gender or masculinity; and if taken far enough, MMA masculinity could deconstruct typical gender categories... I mean, the pure semiotics of not only the actual fight, but the rituals of preparation and training really muddy traditional notions of masculinity.

... It's funny I was just talking about this in my Women's Studies class (gender and popular culture) and I talked about the kiss BJ Penn gave to Matt Hughes after thier fight (absolutely NOBODY got the reference, but I tried it anyways). I saw it as an example how combat sports, and MMA in particular, allow for a type of male "intimacy" that is completely verboten in nearly every social sphere. But at the same time, I remember on the UG people calling Penn a fag for it.

I also talked about the typical reaction of the uninitiated male viewer when they first see MMA (and specfically ground fights). They say it looks like a "couple of fags rolling around trying to cop a feel." You know, the typical response you get from guys who have no interest MMA. There seems to be a troubling about physical contact in MMA that bothers the typical male hetero subject.