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Inclusive masculinity and the gendered politics of men’s rugby.

This ethnographic research uses one year of participant observation and 24 interviews to examine the construction of masculinity among team-members within a highly successful rugby squad, at a high-ranked academic university in England. We find that the players and coaches share a sporting field in which variations in their gendered belief systems are sharply contested. Teammates believe their coaches to be exhibiting an out-of-date, orthodox version of masculinity, and instead of adopting their coaches’ perspectives on masculinity, players take a more inclusive approach to masculinity-making. The players on this team – all of whom identify as heterosexual – contest three fundamental principles of orthodox masculinity: homophobia, misogyny, and excessive risk-taking. These men do not degrade women or gay men in any measurable manner, and they are emotionally supportive of each other when ill or injured. We suggest that these results require a new way for theorizing about masculinity, and we therefore propose inclusive masculinity theory to frame our data and discuss our participants’ complicated association with the political project of adopting more inclusive attitudes toward masculinity.