Investigation into the relationship between men and their genitals




The image of man is not a new phenomena  but something that has been depicted for thousands of years.  Through the ages, emerging from early cave paintings, images depict man as a strong, heroic provider and protector, where at the forefront of this stands the male genitalia.   The penis, probing and protruding, has been the general focus of the genitals within these images, portrayed in varying sizes,  indicating how ‘much of a man’ the subject is.  Behind, hiding in the shadows of this phallic symbol of masculinity sits two important parts of the genitalia, the testicles.  The testes are adorned with a variety of affectionate names, including crown jewels, gonads, nuts and balls, to name but a few and “to have balls,” is a saying that describes courage within an image of maleness which identifies the testicles as an important factor within masculinity and reproduction.  During puberty the journey taking place from boy to man their is significant focus on the balls dropping, the saying “have your balls dropped’ referring to the deepening of a boys voice and therefore starting his transition into manhood, developing his masculinity.  This acquisition of new found maleness can come into question during development and a good example of questioning ones masculinity is to comment on a male’s testes, a song from during the war and still sung to this day that epitomises this is

Hitler has only got one ball,
Goering has two, but very small;
Himmler is very sim’lar,
And Goebbels has no balls at all.

The image of masculinity therefore would appear reliant, not only on the size of ones penis but the possession of testicles and to “have balls”.

The demand of this qualification is apparent within the depiction of maleness especially through the aspirational masculinity, the hegemonic one.  Hegemonic masculinity is briefly defined as white, heterosexual and middle class and through this research project I aim to uncover its relevance within society and how this masculinity, that aims to shape the male population requires that you ‘have balls’.  Alongside this gallant display of bravery and courage we are presented with a variety of other hegemonic characteristics such as aggression, competition, heterosexism, homophobia, misogyny and stoicism.  These masculine features are generally to ensure the marginalisation and subordination of other masculinities and femininity although the one trait that seems to damage itself is stoicism.  Through this research project, I aim to understand how stoicism, roughly translated as long suffering, has an adverse effect on health and masculinity itself.

Whilst it is understood that masculinity is produced by the testicles which secrete the steroid hormone, testosterone, which in turn is responsible for genetic masculinity,  testicular cancer has increased dramatically over the last twenty years, and continues to increase accounting for

“13% of deaths of the age group between 20 and 34”, could stoicism, a masculine trait be responsible for the rise?

With this imminent threat to masculinity I hope to unearth through this research project the relationship between masculinity and the testes and understand whether, masculinity is created by the testes or manufactured by society and why men tend to overlook their ‘balls’ and create a successful campaign to highlight the affects of testicular cancer, creating awareness of this disease.

Aims and Objectives

Through this research project, I aim to

  • Understand the functionality of the testes and their importance in
  • The construction of masculinity
  • Their significance in bravery and stoicism
  • In addition to this I also aim to:
  • Determine the masculine role and how it develops.
  • Understand hegemonic masculinity and its necessity in modern culture.
  • Research stoicism and establish how it shapes masculinity.
  • Understand what testicular cancer is and its effects on masculinity.
  • Create an effective campaign highlighting the issue of testicular cancer.

What’s in the sac?

Foetal development is an ambiguous beginning, where for the first six weeks the foetus has no determined sex.  Therefore the journey into becoming male is an arduous task which begins in the sixth week of conception where the gonads, special sex cells which are set aside from other cells, bombard the foetus with androgens.  The major androgen in the male foetus is testosterone, a steroid hormone which is key to the development of a male foetus.  Although both sexes produce testosterone the male sex is determined by the production of 6 to 8 mg, compared to 0.5 mg in the female.  This secretion from the gonads ensures the development of the male genitalia, the future reproductive organs, which foresees the asexual gonads develop into testes, making the testes central to the development of the male gender.  Comparatively the gonads transform into the ovaries in a female.

Developing within the abdominal cavity, the testes are two egg shaped glands that continue to secrete 95% of the steroid, testosterone, the other 5% is generated by the adrenal cortex.  The primary role of testosterone is the responsibility for the initial sex characteristics, genitalia, which at week nine of foetal development is identifiable as the phallus and labiscrotal area.  Through the continuing influence of testosterone, the labiscrotal area fuses to form the scrotum, the sac where the testes will eventually take their place.  The phallus continues to develop and enlarge, evolving into the penis and during the eighth or ninth month of development, usually prior to birth the testes descend from the abdominal cavity into the scrotum.  This descent is crucial to the future health of the male as if this does not take place, known as cryptorchidism, which accounts for 1 percent of all male births, there may be a greater chance that the subject would become infertile or inherit testicular cancer.  To prevent these illnesses the child would undergo an operation called Orchiopexy, between the age of 6 to 12 months, where two incisions are made to bring the testes down into the scrotum as they need to be kept cooler than the body temperature to function properly.  Testosterone continues to produce for a short while after birth into early childhood where it nearly ceases yet the development into becoming masculine starts a new phase, social imprinting.

Nature Nurture

The development into becoming masculine continues from birth and as Carver discusses the roles of men and women she states how “men are not born, they are made”.  This said, although the testicles are at the centre of genetic masculinity and determine the sex and masculine characteristics, it is not their sole responsibility for the development into this gender identity.  We have to look outside this natural process into the more influential nurturing process.  This initial process is the relationship between the infant and his parents and through considering Freud’s theories I aim to understand the effects of nurture. Sigmund Freud, regarded “as one of the most influential and authoritative thinkers of the twentieth century”, also known as the father of psychoanalysis, was born in Frieberg, Moravia in 1856 although is generally associated with the city of Vienna where from the age of 4 he spent the majority of his life.  Along with this infamous title, Freud was also a physiologist, medical doctor and psychologist, although he is most famous for his liberal views and psychoanalysis regarding infantile psychosexual analysis for which he believed to be the cause of hysteria in patients later in adult life.  The Oedipus complex is probably the most controversial theory focusing on the sexual desire of an infant for which Freud was ridiculed.  This theory analyses how the infant, driven by nature is moulded through the nurture of the parents ensuring acceptability within society.

Inspired by the play written by Sophocles, ‘Oedipus Rex’, is the story of Oedipus, who according to prophecy was destined to sleep with his mother and kill his father.  The son of Laius and Jocasta, king and queen of Thebes, Oedipus, was exiled from Thebes and left to die on a mountain, after his parents learned of the Oracle of Delphi’s prediction.  Oedipus was found by a shepherd and taken to Corinth where he was adopted by the king and queen.  Oedipus grew into a princely young man only in later years to hear the resounding oracle’s prophecy.  Not knowing he was adopted and fearing his fate, he left his loving family and ventured out into the world.  Arriving at a crossroads faced with the directions Delphi, Daulis or Thebes, Oedipus chose Thebes.  Confronted on his journey by the king Laius (his father) and his entourage they argue and Oedipus kills Laius, continuing his journey to Thebes.  Arriving there, Oedipus is congratulated for ending the curse predicted by the oracle and was subsequently crowned king and married Jocasta (his mother).  Oedipus then learns that while attempting through a variety of methods to dispel the prophecy and escape his fate he has unwittingly fulfilled his predicted destiny in the process.  Oedipus, horrified by his actions blinds himself, stabbing his eyes with Jocasta’s, (his wife’s, mother’s) brooch, exiling himself from Thebes as punishment for killing his father.

Oedipus’ fate was predetermined and although all attempts were made to avoid this, nature took its course and Freud cleverly uses this analogy and Sophocles’ play to explain the Oedipus complex, through five stages of infantile psychosexual behaviour which are key to the development of a child’s sexual development and social integration.  Each stage is not without consequence and can affect the individual greatly in adult life if not successfully transcended or the child becomes fixated within any of the stages.

The first stage of a child’s personality is called the Id which seeks only to receive pleasure and avoid pain., based on the pleasure principal, it is called the Oral phase where the new born infant explores through the sucking and placing things in its mouth.    Through this sensation of oral gratification the child forms its first attachment with its mother where his desire is to seek his mothers affection, sucking on her breast continually without the knowledge of what his body requires, such as sustenance and nutrients.  This somewhat exhausting behaviour is done only for pleasure spurred by the natural desire of gratification as when the breast is removed the child continues to seek pleasure from his thumb a pastime that many foeti partook during development in the womb.  This is clearly a pleasurable act seeking gratification as the child has not been exposed to the breast and so is naturally acting out the pleasure principle within the womb.  Some parents see it unfit for a child to be in possession of a dummy or to suck their thumb and deny their child such pleasure.  Consequences of fixating on this phase in later life can be identified through people who are dependent, smokers, nail biters and people who overly indulge in oral sex.

From the age of around 2 to 4 years the child goes into what Freud refers to as the Anal phase and he interprets the anus as a displaced mouth.  During this period the child, through defecation, either in the form of retention or expulsion, gains pleasure from the fact they have created something.  Undergoing toilet training during this age the child must learn that it is not acceptable to let their bowel movements control them.  This is a difficult task to get the child to accept responsibility for their actions from which they must learn the consequences and that it is not socially acceptable to continue to defecate inside ones nappy and they enter the reality principal.  Fixating on this phase the child can become anally retentive becoming tight with money, overly tidy and organised, being subservient to authority or the other extreme, anally expulsive, where the adult is messy in nature, hopeless with finances, disorganised and hostile.   During this period the child also learns the art of scopophilia, understanding that not only can pleasure be derived from the active looking but also from the passive, being looked at.  This can be translated into adult form as “masculine voyeurism and feminine exhibitionism.”   

The third stage, occurring through the age of 4 and 7 the child enters the Phallic phase where gratification is now achieved through the retention and expulsion of urine.  Between the age of 5 and 6 boys are particularly interested in bodily functions and they indulge in childish masturbation.  Fuelled by the desire for the the mother, the primary source of sexual pleasure and fixation, who has nursed them and ensured toilet training during the Oral and Anal phases, as such the boy can become fearful of his desires to replace the father and possess his mother.  This is where the child has an increase in self perception, which Freud calls the Ego and Leah explains it as “the primal human desire for sexual and violent gratification” which are character traits ingrained within masculinity.  This is the key stage of the Oedipus complex as the anxiety is aggravated by “the threats and discipline he incurs when caught masturbating by his parents.”  Noticing his mother (nor women) does not have a penis the boy fears the threat of castration from his father.   The castration complex according to Freud is something a boy fears from his father from early childhood.  This image of emasculation instils fear throughout infancy and into his adult life and realising that the child cannot possess his mother as his father does the child identifies with the father on whom he models himself, becoming as much like him as possible, preparing himself for his later sexual role.  Another way of the child to deal with this complex issue is for the boy to adopt a female persona where he becomes attracted to the father thus forming a homosexual desire to replace the mother.

The Latency stage which takes place during the years, 7 and 12, sees the acquisition of a heavyweight conscience where the child learns of what Freud describes as the Super Ego which Leah explains as “society-imposed morality”.  During this period, which is heavily influenced by school life, should the boy resolve the Oedipus complex, as he is no longer driven by sexual needs.  This is the time where the child learns how to love and also the consequence of what it is to suffer loss and this is made apparent through friendships made and broken during the time at school.  It is during this period that more social, competitive activities are prevalent and the boy can acquire same sex friends as he is not spurred by sexual desires as these feelings lay dormant at this time only to be rekindled in the final phase.

Entering the teenage years and the final chapter in Freud’s psychosexual theory is the Genital stage.  It is this phase where we see the completion of natures desire to procreate.  We must also realise that alongside Freud’s theory, the re-emergence of the steroid hormone testosterone enters into its secondary role.  The testes begin to secrete the primary androgen and during this phase in puberty we see that the boy acquires more masculine features as the  bodies natural injection of the steroid hormone, testosterone increases skeletal growth and muscle mass.  The boys voice becomes deeper owing to the enlargement of the larynx creating what is more commonly known as the ‘Adam’s apple’.  This obvious transformation from boy to man is subject to jovial taunts with the usual question, “have your balls dropped?” questioning the boys journey into maleness.  This is in essence a myth, as established earlier the testes descend within the eighth or ninth month into the scrotum.  The body also starts to grow hair and definite development in size of the genitals, combined with increased sexual drive.  It is safe to say that the testosterone, produced by the testes is central to the development of masculinity and its features.

Alongside the secretion of testosterone the testes begin to produce sperm, an essential part of human development and essential for procreation.  The genitals are now complete, they have evolved into the reproductive organs able to ensure the future of the human race.

Entering back into Freud’s theory, sexual desire and libido is rekindled by puberty and the boy seeks out a sexual partner for mutual sexual pleasure and the natural desire of the human species to procreate.  This phase is crucial to personal development as if the child has successfully reached this point without fixating on any previous stage he can break away from the relationship with his parents and is able to form new relationships outside of the family.  If fixated, the child will suffer with his development and be troubled by repression especially if the Oedipus conflict is left unresolved.

Transferring Freud’s 19th century analysis into modern day is successfully achieved through Erik Erikson’s recognised interpretation of Freud’s psychosexual into psychosocial.  The stages have been broken down into the following layman’s terms.

  • Oral trust versus mistrust
  • Anal autonomy versus shame/doubt
  • Phallic initiative versus guilt
  • Latency industry versus inferiority
  • Genital identity versus role confusion

As in Freud’s day, culture was unable to deal with the suggestion that a child was a sexual being, which still rings true today as stated within my previous research, “Identity” which discusses the portrayal of children as sexual objects, Erikson’s theory however concentrates on the feelings of the child in a social sense rather than the sexual negotiation of the Oedipal complex.

Alongside these analyses it is necessary to consider the archetypal theories of Freud’s associate and protégé Carl Jung.

Carl Gustav Jung, born July 26, 1875 in Kessewil, Switzerland initially trained in the field of archaeology.  Progressing into medicine, Jung began to work under supervision of famous neurologist, Krafft-Ebing.  Inspired by this interest Jung embarked on a career in psychiatry, specialising in schizophrenia.  Jung met Freud in Vienna in 1907 where as according to Boeree

“that after they met, Freud cancelled all his appointments for the day, and they talked for 13 hours straight, such was the impact of the meeting of these two great minds! Freud eventually came to see Jung as the crown prince of psychoanalysis and his heir apparent.”

Jung’s theories divide the psyche, the human mind, into three parts, namely the Ego, Personal Unconscious and Collective Unconscious.  The Ego, unlike Freud’s Ego, is what Jung refers to as the conscious mind, readily accessible.  Personal Unconscious is closely related to the conscious mind yet its contents are not as readily available.  These are usually in the form of memories or have been purposely suppressed for some psychological reason.  It is this final part, the Collective Unconscious which differentiates Jung’s work from that of any other.  This area of the psyche hosts the knowledge of what we as a species are born with yet as human beings we are never directly in contact with it.  It is this area that Jung’s archetypes take shape.

There are a variety of archetypes which manifest in the Collective Unconscious.  The Shadow is comparative with Freud’s Ego, and is a dark place where life’s primeval instincts are kept.  This represents the human beings animal behaviour which seeks only to survive and procreate.  It is an innocent archetype that is reflective of the human before they became self conscious.  The Persona reflects the presented image, whose name is Latin for mask.  This is the projected idea to usually create a good impression, although this manipulative behaviour can have a negative response as this does not show a persons true character.  The key archetypes relevant to this research project are the Anima, the female collective conscious of the man which is usually represented by the spontaneous, intuitive character of a young girl and the male consciousness of woman, the Animus, which is usually depicted as the image of a wise old man, being rational, logical having a tendency to argue.  According to Boeree, Freud, Adler and Jung and many others “felt that we are all really bisexual in nature” as we are without sex during the first six weeks of conception he also states “when we begin our social lives as infants, we are neither male nor female in the social sense.”




From  their early childhood, boys are aware of their genitals. They are told their penis and testicles are what makes them a boy, and eventually a man. Their genitals are at the centre of their masculinity.”

Understanding then that the Freudian and Jungian theories explain our species natural development, that is conditioned by the societised parental role, to nurture the child into social acceptance, we must acknowledge the further impact on masculinity, namely social integration.  Nakagawa highlights this when he states that “boys are not necessarily “masculine” when they are born but they will (…) grow to be “real men” in the process of learning “masculinity” which is determined by the society.”  My research into this gender identity uncovered that half of the men questioned believed they were born masculine and grew to be a man which is predetermined genetically, yet Gill’s research into masculinity found that it was a “process of osmosis” which is defined as the gradual or unconscious assimilation of ideas, this infers that men unknowingly absorb their masculine identity through social engagements yet the majority of my respondents, 71 per cent, have knowledge of this or rather they accept that this is the case, although 29 per cent believe they were taught and this information is reflected in the Research Data and Analysis section,

Schoenberg emphasises the positive and negative aspects of this when he states “In each developmental state the individual has to learn, as well as to process. A complication is that one can learn without understanding the process, and conversely one can experience the process and not learn.”

The imprinting then, of masculinity as a gender identity begins initially through clothing and the acceptance that boys wear blue and girls, pink.  Here begins the cultural acceptance of a child into society.  Stets and Burke explain that masculinity and femininity “are rooted in the social (one’s gender) rather than the biological (one’s sex)” and Connell defines that it “ is simultaneously a place in gender relations, the practices through which men and women engage that place in gender, and the effects of these practices in bodily experience, personality and culture”.  This said the term masculinity is given to a male although is not exclusively ‘male’ as this gender identity can be adopted by females too as so can femininity in men.

Masculinity however is said to be in a crisis and Philips discusses that “modern and postmodern scholars are addressing the crisis in masculinity by questioning the meaning of masculinity and by rethinking masculinity, male development, gender, and identity.”  It is thought that masculinity had a firm identity two decades ago with a shared view, something to aspire to, yet recent developments within culture have created conflict within this agreed definition.  Determining then that masculinity manifests itself over many levels and being multifaceted it would be impossible to pinpoint the vast array of male difference, however my research project aims to understand the basics of masculinity and the stereotypical traits of this gender identity.  Considine discusses the crisis within masculinity, referring to the current media images of wimps, geeks, unintelligence, weak, subordinate men, compared with the masculine images of over a decade ago with the super hero style Milk Tray man and the rugged Marlboro man.

The image of masculinity has now become a fashion statement, a trend, a packaged identity that is predicted and promoted by advertising agencies like J. Walter Thompson, the “modern world’s oldest advertising agency and 4th largest” who forecast the rise of the “metrosexual”.

Coined by “Mark Simpson in 1994” the “metrosexual” is an image that blurs the boundaries of masculinity and femininity.  Possessing a narcissistic personality, the metrosexual has a disposable income which is used to ensure he looks good.  Investing in face creams and hair straighteners this image of masculinity conflicts the normative heterosexual image of man.  A prime example of this image is David Beckham, described by Oliffe as “the peroxide pony-tailed, athletic, (…) is conceivably a contemporary exemplar of hegemonic masculinity for many young men. He is successful, powerful and self-reliant; as a player and celebrity he threatens to be bigger than the game of soccer itself.” thus confirming the conflicting image within this crisis.

Understanding then there are many masculinities, as there are types of man, is it necessary to have a singular monolithic image of masculinity?  The masculinity accepted above all, used as a measuring tool to determine just how masculine, is “hegemonic masculinity”.

As with masculinity, hegemonic masculinity too manifests itself on various levels, and is contrary to the dominant ideology of the time to be able to justify and defend the current  social system ensuring men hold the power and from which, women are excluded.  Changing over time, as so does society and popular belief, the general accepted idea within Western culture is that, hegemonic masculinity refers to the white middle / upper class heterosexual male, Phillips refers to “Erik Erikson’s  model of psychosocial human development for its historical and cultural embeddedness in discourses constructing a white, heterosexual, able-bodied, middle class masculinity norm.”  It is this constructed image of masculinity that reaps the rewards, compared to other deviant masculinities and femininity ensuring the dominant position of the normative male.

As this image of masculinity is deemed more acceptable than its counterparts, this constructed identity is used as a measure to determine just how masculine one is through as Jewitt describes “hegemonic masculinity prescribes endless and exacting requirements on men.”   Chafetz describes seven traits of masculinity

  1. Physical–virile, athletic, strong, brave. Unconcerned about appearance and ageing;
  2. Functional–breadwinner, provider;
  3. Sexual–sexually aggressive, experienced. Single status acceptable;
  4. Emotional–unemotional, stoic;
  5. Intellectual–logical, intellectual, rational, objective, practical,
  6. Interpersonal–leader, dominating; disciplinarian; independent, individualistic (applies to western societies);
  7. Other Personal Characteristics–success-orientated, ambitious; proud, egotistical, moral, trustworthy; decisive, competitive, uninhibited, adventurous.

Wall and Kristjanson in their research determine these following characteristics are stereotypical of hegemonic masculinity.

  • Restricted experience and expression of emotion
  • No emotional sensitivity
  • Toughness and violence
  • Powerful and successful
  • Self-sufficient (no needs)
  • Stoicism
  • Being a stud (heterosexism)
  • Misogyny

Contrasting the traits between these somewhat similar identities, the hegemonic masculinity pays no reference to the inclusion of women or provision for a family.  Although these characters possess a lack of emotion and dependency they both seek out success and power through domination and violence.

Culturally these ideas of masculinity are set out and Schoenberg infers that the “rules are more rigid” for men and boys which are transmitted by “institutions such as religion or the educational system”, according to Stets and Burke.  Primarily the major aspect of masculine socialisation for a male, is school where normative masculinity has been institutionalised.  It is here where they begin to establish their culturally assigned role alongside their peers.  Within western civilisation it is accepted that males should traditionally be brave, unemotional, strong, dominant, athletic, rational, ambitious, competitive, aggressive and violent and it is in the playground these traits are acted out through races, fighting, bullying, sports, especially football and re-enacting fight scenes or such like and an interest in gore.  It is this jungle, males find their roles through trying out these attitudes and behaviours although not all conform to this typified ideal.  The non conformists would be identified as wimps or homosexual for not being macho.  Their role is identified as a subordinate, deviant masculinity.  My previous research into aspects of bullying uncover these playground games and taunts and whilst fitting into that role myself, I recall being taken aside and into the headmaster’s office to discuss the problem of being bullied.  To resolve the problem he instructed me to walk slower, larger strides, not small, fast steps as I needed to look more masculine in order not to be bullied and as I had not learned, I needed to be ‘educated’ how to behave.  Another aspect of not appearing to be masculine, is being good at ones studies, which ended in another approach where I had to be put on ‘report’.  This was to suggest the appearance I had been ‘naughty’ as naughty boys were seen to be more masculine.

Duncan highlights this when referring to ”Mac An Ghaill’s “macho lads” who rejoiced in a stereotypical hegemonic masculinity that rejected academia in favour of being tough, which involved “fighting, fucking (females) and football”. Understanding the structure of school life it appears that hegemonic masculinity is rife and these violent, sexual, competitive traits are widely accepted and somewhat encouraged.

Subconsciously then, if adhered to all the rules set out by society, the journey into becoming an adult male could see his masculine role develop even further.  His character traits expand to cover the normative heterosexual masculine roles such as sexually aggressive, single, virile, success driven, or the more family orientated bread winner, provider, disciplinarian, male, a superhuman who must be a rock and appear invincible, never ill or phased by anything.

I’m not ill!

Appearing invincible and superhuman is a façade that has stood the test of time.  Entering the days of Greek philosophy we can find its historical roots and its placement within society through the teachings of Stoicism.

Stoicism, a way of life that was created by Zeno of Citium (335–263BC) during the third century BC in Athens, acquired its name from the stoic pile, a painted collonade or porch, from where it was delivered.  Initially a Greek way of life the doctrine made its way to Rome in the first century BC continuing into the first century AD where it became a manual for the bourgeois and upper classes of the Roman Empire.  Stoicism was as Blackburn describes a “unified logical, physical, and moral philosophy”.  This philosophy was based on the ‘Logos’ a view that Livingstone states as “a form of materialistic pantheism” that identifies God with the universe.   Understanding then that the ‘Logos’ is at the centre of everything, the Stoics lived within the harmony of nature.  Using this as their inspiration, these philosophers believed that nature, according to King who quotes the Roman Stoic, Cicero,

“Nature, (…) has constructed the body so that the most honourable parts are the most visible. Sane people mirror Nature’s wisdom in keeping out of sight the parts Nature has hidden away, and in performing bodily functions in private. Moving too slowly is seen as effeminate: hurrying around makes someone out of breath, thus distorting the face. Anger, pleasure, and fear equally transform the faces, voices, and gestures of those experiencing them: the ideal is to control the body, avoid excessive gestures, and follow a moderate way of life.”

Stoics then conducted themselves in such a manner that refused the importance of bodily functions.  This was also true of emotions making the Stoic a ‘super human’ who appeared to have no faults and as Blackburn describes, “It is an ethic of self-sufficient, benevolent calm, with the virtuous peace of the wise man rendering him indifferent to poverty, pain, and death, so resembling the spiritual peace of God.”  Virtue was said to be the only thing required by a Stoic as a virtuous man is considered to be morally good reflecting the ‘Logos’.  This way of life was as again King quotes Cicero “that both the mind and the body should be trained from childhood into moderate and appropriate behaviour, and this should be expressed through every action — there being a seemly way to stand, walk, or sit.”  This affirms that, as Carver states, “men are not born, they are made”.

The Stoic philosophy died out in the first century AD but the use of the word ‘Logos’ didn’t and was used by John the Apostle in his account of Jesus.

“In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men … And the Logos became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from The Father.” (John 1:1-4,14 RSV)

This passage describes Jesus as the centre of everything which as we know is the foundation of Christianity.  Within the bible are various accounts which make reference to the ‘virtuous man’.  Virtue was seen as the only requirement for a Stoic, and the bible describes

“a virtuous man is a man of great moral strength, in whom wickedness is not found.  He is a godly, God-fearing man.”  As Christianity has dominated western culture since its initial conception, projecting the institutionalised hegemonic image, it would infer that virtue has been adopted and transferred into the required, expected behaviour within masculinity along with the Stoical denial of bodily functions and emotions.

This stoical image of masculinity in modern culture can be translated as the acquisition of the ‘stiff upper lip’, suppressing the display of any emotion Furnham explains “the denial and suppression of emotion is at the heart of the modern concept of stoicism and fortitude”.  This behaviour is transferred from the father to the son, as Cicero did, by stern unemotional delivery of lectures such as “boys don’t cry” or “don’t be such a big girl’s blouse” insinuating that to show emotion is to be seen as feminine, an undesirable quality reaffirming the hegemonic ideology of misogyny (hatred of  women) and homophobia (femininity in men).  Research performed by  Dr Patricia McGrath of the Child Health Research Institute in London uncovered that children gauge how to deal with pain and suffering through the response of their parents.  McGrath states

“Children look to their parents for how to respond to bumps and scrapes, the more a child is taught not to show pain, the less likely they are to show it”.  It is this stoic transference that can manifest itself, causing physical and psychological problems throughout life.  Unable to express their emotions and denying their body becomes ill, from the ingrained psychological effects from childhood, men become long suffering and endure the illness or problem behind this stoical front, the expected image of masculinity.

Evidencing this Dobson states “Masculinity, already said to be in crisis, has now been classed as a disease.”  His article discusses the findings of academics from universities in Leeds, Vienna, and Ottawa and the World Health Organisation who spent a year looking at data on nearly 200 million men in 17 countries across the developed world, including the UK.  Extracting the information Dobson quotes

“Men are twice as likely to die early as women, are more prone to cancer and are more liable to be killed by heart disease, strokes, infections and congenital conditions. Men are also more at risk of mental illness, skin, blood and digestive diseases; and more likely to be killed in accidents and car crashes, and to die by suicide.”

It is the masculine traits, such as risk taking, competitiveness and the inability to display emotion through childhood conditioning that men suffer in this way.  The report also discusses that ethnographically the amount of single men or who live alone has risen, owing to an increase in divorce and separations in comparison to those with a partner.  This suggests unbiasedly that women care for men better than men do themselves. Hicks confirms this when he states

“Some men leave it to their partners to take the responsibility.“ Another concern highlighted in the report is that men “delay in seeking help” .

This delay was also reflected in a study carried out by the Men’s Health Forum .  Focusing on around 400 men, the report found the attitude to illness was to ”tough it out’” as being seen to be ill equated to weakness, conflicting with the image of masculinity.  Work was also given priority over health with which there was a definite inability within men to discuss problems with their colleagues.  Chapple and Zeibland found that men “hid the fact that they were ill from their colleagues at work” this reaffirms that men cannot be seen as weak or ill in order to retain their super human image.  All these aspects validate the stoic façade seemingly required by the masculine image.  Messner clarifies this view when he states, “Men tend to pay heavy costs — in the form of shallow relationships, poor health, and early death — for conformity with the narrow definitions of masculinity that promise to bring them status and privilege.” 

Quoting Dr Alan White, Dobson writes “Being a man is like having a terminal disease that will prematurely end your life, (…) fifty per cent of men are dead by the time they are 75, (…) but we should not see it as being hopeless. We need to make sure that there are changes so that men’s health improves.” 

A change that needs to be improved is the relationship between men and their testicles as this project aims to uncover the reasons why men delay, ignore or blatantly don’t check their testicles for signs of infection.

Testicular cancer

There are currently over 200 cancers because, according to Cancer Research UK, there are the same amount of differing types of body cells and over 60 different organs where this killer takes place.  One organ, or rather two, where suffering seems to be on the rise, according to

“Everyman”, is testicular cancer, which has increased by a staggering 400 percent in the last 50 years, “the reasons for this are not yet known”.  This type accounts for 1 percent of all male cancers and with this rate of increase it is set to become a more predominant form.  There are currently a reported new 1900 cases a year in the UK, of which England has 1541.  Occurring from birth at any age, although rare above the age of 55, accounting for 8 per cent of all cases, the cancer then is more predominant between the ages of 15 to 45 and half of all occurrences are below the age of 35.  It is around this age group that the illness has its most sufferers around what most people would see as their prime.

Cancer is a disease created by the abnormal functioning of cells.  These cells reproduce and the uncontrollable development creates a lump, generally referred to as a tumour.

Testicular cancer manifests itself in two different forms seminomas and non-seminomas.  A third of all testicular cancers are seminomas which emerge from immature germ cells and commonly effect the 25 to 55 age group.  The remainder are non-seminomas which develop from mature germ cells and effect the 15 to 35 age group.  Germ cells are created in the testes and ovaries and during foetal development these germ cells are left around other parts of the body.  These cells are invariably harmless but may become cancerous and are usually diagnosed around the mediastinum, the area between the lungs and heart.  Theses cells when cancerous are still known to be testicular or ovarian cancer even though they have spread to other major organs and a common occurrence with fourth stage testicular cancer is the appearance of cancer within the lung.

The disease is foremost apparent in white, Caucasian males, especially, according to Cancer Research UK, “those from higher-income backgrounds,are more likely to develop testicular cancer than black or Asian men.”  This said, “Black men have a 50 percent greater chance of getting prostate cancer than whites and are twice as likely to die from it.”

Cryptochidism, undescended testicles, as discussed in ‘What’s in the sac?’ increase the risk of contracting the disease between 5 and 10 per cent and research confirms that 10 per cent of testicular cancer sufferers were born with this condition.  This leaves 90 per cent unexplained although family history is also a strong element as brothers, or fathers who have suffered with this form of cancer, the risks of contracting are increased by 10 fold.  This suggests that testicular cancer is genetic, contracted through inherent factors.  Although doctors are currently unable to detect the causes of testicular cancer and are currently unaware, researchers

“are looking for additional tumour markers that may be present in abnormal amounts in the blood or urine of a person with very early testicular cancer.”  This is in the hope of detecting the disease before any symptoms take place.  Other than the corrective surgery Orchiopexy, to bring down the testicles, there is currently nothing people can do to prevent testicular cancer, recommendations for regular exercise and a healthy diet are suggested to prevent although this is suggested across the board to prevent a variety of disease and is clearly not testicular cancer-specific.

Prevention and diagnosis

Although there is no real way to prevent the illness, men are recommended to check their testicles at least once a month, this procedure should begin at puberty in order to establish what is ‘normal’.  The process is to examine the testes after a warm bath or shower when the scrotum is relaxed,  holding the sac in the palm, the testicles should be examined between the thumb and fingers.  Exploring the centre of genetic masculinity, it should be normal to find that one testicle is slightly larger than the other and hangs slightly lower, which is usually the left, as McManus states is depicted in most Greek sculptures.  Alongside this normality the epididymis should also seem apparent.  This is where sperm is stored and should not be confused for a lump.  Comparing testicles, recognising their natural status each should seem pretty similar.  In around 90 per cent of testicular cancer cases, their is a recognisable lump, a tumour, this only appears in one testicle and very rare to appear in both, so a comparison can be drawn assuming both testicles are present.  There are other symptoms that occur with this disease.  An unnatural enlargement of the testicle, a dull ache in the abdomen or groin, sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum, growth or tenderness of the upper chest, or a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum.  This last example is sometimes confused with the

“blue balls of love”, which is where sexual intercourse has climaxed without ejaculation and semen has built up.  This is usually remedied by masturbation although any of these signs should be carefully considered and if unsure, immediate visit to the general practitioner (GP) is urged.

As discussed earlier in ‘I’m not ill’, men have real issues with displaying emotion, signs of weakness and appearing to be ill in order to appear to be masculine.  It is also known that men visit the doctors as, Jones states “simply because his female partner has noticed a new and abnormal swelling on a testicle that otherwise he might not have bothered about.”  Knowing then that there is an increasing amount of single men who are becoming ever more self reliant and diagnose their own illnesses they are unlikely to discuss testicular cancer with friends, according to a report by Mintel, Men’s Changing Lifestyles – UK – June 2005, it would seem their very essence of masculinity is at risk,  A great deal of research has been produced regarding men’s lack of attendance at the doctor’s surgery and it has been found by Chapple et al “that the presence of symptoms is not always sufficient for people to define themselves as sick”.  The research also establishes that men delayed the visit to their GP  as they did not want to seem like a hypochondriac, comparing themselves to Freud’s discovery of hysteria in women, and that it was important to retain their masculine image and continue by quoting the men “in their words, ‘men don’t cry’”  reaffirming the stoic masculine message imprinted from a young child.  Another reason for men to delay their visit within the report was the fear of exposing their penis, men were worried that the size of their manhood was not up to scratch.  Men’s relationship with their testicles can also have an effect as it is quite a distant one and that the penis is presumed more important.  This is because the testicles hang in the shadow of the penis, the object which men pay more attention to, gaining pleasure from, a reality which we are initially programmed to receive as Freud explains during the Id period where the body seeks pleasure and avoids pain, and the testicles are often associated with pain through sports injury or being hit in the scrotum. Another factor is fear of the outcome, and on discussion with a

22 year old who found a lump, delayed contacting a medical professional for over a year.  Scoring 17 on the masculinity questionnaire in ‘Data Collection and Analysis’ the young male describes how he felt his masculinity was affected at the time, and how he hoped the lump would go away.  This fear was also described by another respondent who said if he found a lump he would prolong the visit to the doctors  “till scared”.

This risk in delay prevents diagnosis by the doctor preventing early access to treatment.  Once at the surgery the doctor will examine the scrotum to determine the size of the swelling and its tenderness.  It is generally very difficult for the doctor to determine whether the lump is cancerous according to Cancer Research UK.  It is also understood through their research findings that less than 4 out of 100 testicular lumps are found to be cancerous.  In most cases the lumps turn out to be a cyst which the doctor identifies by trying to shine a light through.  Owing to these other testicular ailments the doctor may suggest an ultrasound, necessary for seminomas, which is a harmless process.  Chapple et al’s research indicated that this referral also created a delay in treatment as these “examinations can take weeks or even months” as the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends that particular symptoms should be referred and seen by a specialist within two weeks.

Swelling or lump in the testicle is the only symptom that the recent NICE guidelines have outlined as needing urgent referral for possible testicular cancer.”  The specialist would take a blood sample in order to identify any markers.  Markers are proteins found only in non-seminomas which are helpful in the diagnosis,

“these are alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), human chorionic gonadtrophin (HCG and lactic dehydrogenase (LDH).”  From the results the specialist will be able to determine whether testicular cancer is present if there is any abnormal readings and determine if any the stage of the cancer.   Specialists will not perform a biopsy in fear that if the tumour is malignant the cancer may spread.  Understanding this the sooner detected the less chance of morbidity and prevention of the cancer developing further.

Testicular cancer is staged in four parts

Stage 1. Cancer contained in testicle.

Stage 2. Cancer has spread from the testicle to the body to the epididymis and may have spread to the inner layer of the membrane surrounding the testicle and a small tumour.  The cancer may have been present in another part of the body, but not a major organ.

Stage 3. Cancer is anywhere within the testicle, spermatic cord, or scrotum; and has spread to a major organ i.e. liver, brain, and kidney.

Stage 4. The cancer is anywhere within the testicle, spermatic cord, or scrotum and has spread to the lungs.

The treatment for testicular cancer is usually orchidectomy, the surgical removal of a testicle, as the specialist or surgeon cannot determine cancer from a biopsy, this will be followed by a course of chemotherapy.  Depending on the stage of the cancer, there may be the need to remove the spermatic cord which will leave the sac feeling quite empty.  If the cancer has spread to major organs, usually the lungs, the cancer will still be known as testicular cancer owing to the connective germ cells and will be treated similarly with a course of chemotherapy or radiology.  The success rate of treatment at stage one is 90 per cent decreasing to 80 per cent for stage three and 50 per cent at stage four.

A question most men after treatment for this disease is  “ 

Will I lose my masculinity?” this concern is like closing the stable door when the horse has already bolted, as established the testicles are at the centre of genetic masculinity, producing the primary androgen, testosterone, responsible for masculinity, it would seem men believe they are born masculine rather than made.  It is possible however for one testicle to produce enough testosterone to ensure masculinity and enough sperm to procreate.  In severe cases the remaining testicle may suffer damage which will require replacement testosterone therapy to maintain masculinity, Giroux discusses the complications of this which is represented in the film, Fight Club.  His article discusses male violence and patriarchy, and draws upon the representation of ‘Bob’ a character who has suffered from testicular cancer who embarks on hormone therapy.  It is within a scene constructed in a testicular cancer support group called

“Remaining Men Together”  that the character comes into play, where we are introduced to the image of a  once masculine body builder who has suffered complications with hormone therapy and has grown breasts.

“Bob becomes a not too subtle symbol in the film, personifying how masculinity is both degraded (he has breasts like a woman) and used in a culture that relies upon the “feminine” qualities of support and empathy rather than ‘masculine’ attributes of strength and virility to bring men together.” 

Another concern after orchidectomy is body image as the scrotum can seem empty and the offer of a prosthesis can be offered to relieve psychological issues.   Chapple and McPherson’s research into prosthesis found that men were upset that they weren’t consulted about size and shape.  Their report also uncovered that men in a stable relationship were less concerned about their appearance than single men, who felt it could be a problem for future relationships, yet my investigation uncovered that men 21 per cent of  the respondents, who were in stable relationships were inclined to undergo the operation to have a prosthesis fitted and 36 per cent who were all single would refuse the operation, this result somewhat contradicts their findings and although my research is valid it is not the opinion of sufferers from testicular cancer and can only be approached from a “what if?” point of view.

Chapple and Ziebland found that younger men were unconcerned about the effects of testicular cancer on their masculinity, which my research confirms, and in a recent conversation with a 23 year old male who postponed his visit to the doctors for a year whilst finding a lump, knew he was able to reproduce with one testicle and was unconcerned about the imminent loss, which also reaffirms their findings.

They also discovered that men “were able to perform their male roles” and it is thought that “men who had been treated for testicular cancer could resume sexual activities once they had recovered from surgery or chemotherapy, and treatment left no long-term visible traces.” but research performed by Pool discovered that initially 10 per cent of men suffered from sexual dysfunction which lead to 40 per cent in the long term and that men suffered from ejaculation problems after chemotherapy which established long term psychological effects testicular cancer had on its sufferers as it   “threatens body image and fertility, and may trigger feelings of sexual vulnerability, offence and confusion,” Pool recommends that surgeons consider the psychological effects and offer psychological treatment.

The prognosis for testicular cancer is incredibly good as discussed previously if the cancer is found early enough there is a 90 per cent survival rate and 4 out of a 100 lumps are diagnosed as testicular cancer, could this positive aspect of good prognosis and incidence be contributing to men’s inability or lack of concern to check their testicles or self diagnose?  Men seemingly realise the consequence of testicular cancer as my own research has established, yet the increase of the disease is becoming ever more apparent.

Chapple and Ziebland found that “several men said that they decided to seek help after they had read about testicular cancer in magazines, newspapers or practice leaflets, or after they or their wives had seen television programmes about testicular cancer.”  It is through this research project I aim to establish information to underpin a successful awareness campaign highlighting this ever increasing disease.


Previous campaigns


In order to produce an effective campaign it is necessary to review what has previously occurred, and over the last seven years there has been three high profile testicular cancer awareness campaigns.

Launched in June 1999, everyman male cancer awareness month, a 50 second advert by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, featuring pop star Robbie Williams, was donated to the Institute of Cancer Research to create awareness of testicular cancer.  “The commercial uses one of men’s most obvious interests – women – to get the message across.”  Shot from the eyes of a holiday maker’s video camera, the ad follows the video capture of his friend’s first time on a jet ski.  Becoming distracted with the women on the beach, the footage is drawn more towards bikinis and breasts which have become more interesting to the amateur film maker.


Suddenly, an odd-looking pair of naked breasts comes into view – they’re false. As the camera pulls back, the breasts are strapped onto Robbie Williams who points at the camera: “Hey you know, if you men paid more attention to these (grabbing his crotch) instead of these (pointing to the false breasts) then maybe fewer of us would be dying of testicular cancer. So go and check ’em out.” 


This campaign illustrates the risk taking masculine trait alongside the active masculine act of scopophilia where the male gaze seeks out pleasure from the bikini-clad women.  The cameraman is the voyeur whose interest becomes sexually aggressive.  This viewpoint identifies with the typical hegemonic idea of men’s interest in women, yet this marginalises at least 6 per cent of the male population who are homosexual in nature as established within my previous research into Bullying.  Robbie Williams appears to be grabbing his penis far more than his testicles and as discussed within the introduction, many men and boys are rearranging their genitals or fiddling around with them as a pass time and does not mean they are inspecting them for health reasons.  This campaign clearly identifies with the macho stereotype.


During March 2002 the national campaign ‘Keep Your Eye on the Ball’,, was launched by The Football Association and The Professional Footballers’ Associations aimed at raising awareness of testicular cancer alongside the Institute of Cancer Research’s everyman campaign and Cancer Research UK’s Dad’s and Lad’s campaign to ensure that all footballers and their supporters are aware of the symptoms of testicular cancer. The campaign was in direct response to the discovery that players Neil Harris, Alan Stubbs, Craig Forrest and Jason Cundy all had testicular cancer who have successfully resumed playing after fighting the disease.

The campaign featured a variety of premiership football players posing with footballs that had a strange lump as do testicles with the disease.



This campaign uses the macho image of football, again a stereotypic image of hegemonic masculinity.  Undoubtedly football is an interest of some men and the use of the ball communicates the symptom of testicular cancer yet this method is identifiable only to the niche market of football fans, marginalising again the somewhat deviant masculinities who do not identify with sport.  The campaign however unified cancer research groups and football clubs nation wide.

These campaigns both promote the hegemonic ideal of masculinity through the competitiveness of sport and the sexual aggression associated with the most accepted masculinity.  This acceptance is all well and good in theory but the acknowledgement that masculinity is manifested on various levels should also be taken into consideration so not to marginalise and alienate other men from the message communicated through the campaign.


Launched this year on 6 July, by everyman, featuring patron Dermot O’Leary.  Created by Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners and kindly donated to everyman.   The advert is controversial in its nature as it is the first everyman campaign to feature testicles while approaching the topic, testicular cancer, and can be seen at  Featuring ‘normal’ men in everyday situations such as a group of men doing Tai Chi, a gardener strimming foliage in a park, mechanics in a garage, office workers in a lift and a man at a bus stop wearing a pair of giant testicles around their waists.  The strap line ‘make your balls a bigger part of your life’, recommends me pay more attention to their testicles rather than letting them hang around in the background.

This campaign as described places a variety of men in everyday situations and focuses more on the matter at hand, testicles.  This seems to be the more successful of the three mentioned as it covers various types of masculinity.  It does not however place men in more ‘feminine’ roles or show occupations such as hairdressers although it does communicate to both the working class man and the executive and creates an air of manliness that it is all right to check your testicles.  There is seemingly a shortage of young men within the sequence, and the fact that the disease occurs primarily between the ages 15 to 45  of which the majority of cases are apparent below 35, there seems a lack of identification with late teens and early twenties, a problem I hope to rectify within my campaign.

There are also various forms of printed material currently available demonstrating how a man should check himself for signs of testicular cancer which is not necessarily the most effective.  It usually comprises of an illustration, depicting the genital area, generally a cross section and then a crude illustration of some hands checking the testicles.  These images are usually lacking in detail, but one wonders that this measure is taken owing to men’s ‘heterosexual’, normative, hegemonic masculine attitude which will not allow them to view a pair of testicles, ‘in the flesh’ so to speak in case that would be seen as being ‘gay’?  Jewitt understands that the use of diagrams “promote normative heterosexual sex” and continues by explaining that “there is some evidence (…) to suggest that men’s sexual and reproductive organs are represented in the diagrams as more simple and straightforward than women’s.”  This can clearly be visible by the diagram below featured in the Cancer Research leaflet.

The campaigns are all very good in theory and create awareness of the disease but there are other factors that prevent men from dealing with the disease or actually having a relationship with their testicles.  In their study Chapple and Ziebland highlighted the fact that “well informed men may still delay. As our study and other studies have shown, many complex factors influence illness behaviour for men with testicular cancer.”  This is evidenced within my research as the oldest respondent would consider waiting 3 months before visiting his GP and one of the youngest would wait a month, both knowing the consequences of testicular cancer.

Establishing then through the research the indication that testicles are central to masculinity and are key to the development of becoming male and their importance  ensuring the survival of the human race, it seems evident that although the socially accepted belief that hegemonic masculinity is beneficial in developing real men, the evidence is clear that this behaviour seeks only to destroy itself through long suffering, restricted expression of emotion, violence, sexual promiscuity and poor relationships through arrogant independence and self sufficiency.  Understanding that masculinity is in crisis it would be necessary to communicate to a larger audience than the typical man who likes football, women’s breasts and beer which I hope to achieve through my campaign.


Application of theory


I decided to explore the various references to testicles and how they could be communicated on various levels without appearing graphic.  Initially I decided to use the reference to balls as representative of testes and communicate to the various age groups and masculinities through the use of:

Marbles, communicating to the youth sector.

Tennis, evoking a response from the competitive, sporty type masculinity.

Stress balls, identifying with the executive.

Roulette, which the risk taking males would associate with.

Within these four categories I felt I may well be marginalising and alienating some men and boys from the campaign so I decided to look at other references to testicles.  I uncovered that nuts and crown jewels were also used as popular phrases and investigated possible imagery that could be used within the campaign.  Understanding that masculinity was in crisis and manifests itself over many levels I found that there were many forms of nut, edible and mechanical that could be used to represent the genitalia.  After purchasing and photographing as many types of nut as I could find, I came to the conclusion that this was not necessarily as successful as I had initially thought until I started to eat one of the monkey nuts.  The monkey nut in its original form is reminiscent of the scrotum and contained within lies two nuts.  This would be the flagship image of the campaign, referring to the whole scrotum, revealing two nuts, ending in the tragic removal of one of the nuts, representing the consequence of testicular cancer, orchidectomy.

From the establishment my idea blossomed into the creation of a campaign that would appear over a period of a month, comprising of not only the monkey nut, but the other references to testes, marbles, stress balls, tennis balls and roulette and crown jewels.

Exploring the other types of nut I discovered that a whole walnut looked incredibly like a pair of lungs, and that fourth stage testicular cancer manifests itself within the lungs, owing to germ cells that are found usually between the heart and lungs after foetal development, I found that this avenue had a great deal of potential.  It was my aim to communicate the fatal risks of undetected testicular cancer, as most men, young men are unconcerned with its effects I felt it was necessary to convey the fatal aspects of the disease

Week one of the campaign would start with the range of images that represent the different references,

Monkey nut


Tennis balls


Stress balls

Crown jewels

The following week would show the next stage, the monkey nut open, revealing the nut with a lump, enlarged tennis ball, communicating the symptom, along with enlarged marble, stress ball reflecting a stormy sky, broken walnut and crown jewels with lump.

Progressing into the third week the images display only the healthy image.  This builds up a familiarity with the general public as the campaign progresses.  Into week four the previous weeks images are  combined with the strap line “GET A GRIP” along with a subsequent strap line highlighting the facts of testicular cancer.

Week four also sees the launch of the moving image pieces that coincide with the billboards.  These approximately 20 second infomercials would be shown on television and in schools.  A Cancer Research or healthcare professional would visit schools nation wide disseminating the flagship image leaflet which highlights the consequences of testicular cancer and holding an assembling to explain the facts.

The leaflet would also be placed in pubs and bars across the nation, placed on the bar along with a bowl of monkey nuts where drinkers could experience the actual experience of opening the nut along with the visual aspect  of the campaign, ensuring the message gets across.

Casino houses would also be place for disseminating the leaflet as roulette is one of the themes of the video pieces.  This moving image communicates the risks of testicular cancer and the occurrence of the disease.  The casino house would offer a single bet 55 credits on the number 35, the age of the highest amounts of sufferers to on the last night of the campaign.

The campaign progresses into the bigger picture of testicular cancer over the month and through this development it aims to convey the severity of the disease and highlight men’s inability to:-

Check their testicles

Visit their general practitioner

Understand they are not invincible

Understand the consequences




Masculinity, although initially constructed by the testes, is really a learned gender identity, and although the impending consequence of testicular cancer, is an orchidectomy, removal of the testicle, the initial element of genetic masculinity, young men seem unaffected by this, as it would be difficult for them to forget how to be masculine as the process of osmosis will continue.   Testicular cancer then, does not affect masculinity, as one testicle can produce enough testosterone and sperm to continue to function and procreate as a virile male.  The requirement then to have balls for bravery is seemingly unnecessary as men believe they are not necessary for this masculine trait, which again is an absorbed idea.

Masculinity then, as uncovered, is not predetermined genetically, it is the social construction, how to walk and how to appear that  over the last two millennia, indicated by the virtuous persona, which has been a façade masking the real man inside.  This construction combined with the primeval aspects of human nature, violence, protection and survival, will continue to be the requirement, that man should typify the hegemonic masculine stereotype.

For this to change, culture would need to alter its view on masculinity, and as culture is patriarchal, male dominated, it would be difficult for this transformation to take place as it is deemed necessary to have this ideal image of a man as not only a measure, but a goal.

Man however, could alter, removing the more negative traits, of the stoical façade and realise the body is not invincible and that illness is not weakness.  It is through my campaign that I highlight not only the symptoms but also the consequences which I hope strikes fear into the men, stimulating them into taking better care of their testicles.


Are you a man between 12-50*

Or a spouse, boyfriend, son, father, brother or best friend of a man who is? 

Know this:

During 2006 there will be 8,980 young men diagnosed and over 360 young men will die because they didn’t find it in time.  That is more deaths than women in this age group who will die of breast cancer. “Get a grip!”

* It is recommended that all men do a monthly testicular self-exam from puberty to the mid 40’s. Testicular cancer is rare in men over 50.

“Get a grip!” is a pastime many a man is involved in.  You will generally find males rearranging their genitals into a more comfortable position or as the current trend stands within the ‘chav’ and ‘scally’ subcultures that they hold the ’crown jewels’ constantly during conversation and general interaction.  This intimacy with ones ‘balls’ is not necessarily where the male examines his testes but where he exerts his maleness, his masculinity.

Chart 1 Attitudes towards health and lifestyle – men, 2004  Base: 498 men aged 15+


Chart 2 Sources of health advice and information–men, June 2004  Base: 498 men aged 15+

The above charts, from a report by Mintel, Men’s Changing Lifestyles – UK – June 2005, depict the attitudes of men with regards to their health and within the report there seems a great deal of stoicism.  In chat 1, questions 5,7 and 8 uncover just how stoic and stubborn the male population is many are generally unwilling to change their ways and are incredibly self reliant.  Chart 2 identifies how men tend to self diagnose their own problems, this is clearly and attempt not to look weak as displayed in questions 3, 5 and 6.  Question 4   The report also uncovered that men were less likely to discuss with their friends that they had found a lump on their testicle.  The interaction between a male and his testicles may not offer the insight of a strange lump and if he found one he would generally tend to it himself or quietly suffer.

Through these displays of stoicism, based on hegemonic masculinity, can man allow such a threat to his maleness as testicular cancer to take a grip on him and threaten his masculinity?  For what is a man without his ‘balls’?  Does he lose his masculinity?  Which takes me back to the original question, is masculinity created by the testes or manufactured by society?

Previous Research

Through the initial stages of the Masters program I have undertaken sociological issues regarding personal development and growth.  These topics have a great significance for, not only understanding myself, but other people for which I hope to transfer into a design context.


During this research project I highlighted the issues of growing as a child and being the recipient of homophobic bullying whilst subjected to the taunts of developing hegemonic masculine boys.  I determined how this form of attack was used to reduce another’s masculinity therefore increasing ones own.


Through the interviewing and observation of various teenagers I discovered that even though the subculture members, defied hegemonic ideology during their transitional stage into adulthood, they did however take on masculine and feminine roles which are clearly defined within culture.  The group dynamics were formed and there within were clear dominant and subordinate masculinities and subordinate, maternal feminine figures.

General Methodology

Through a great deal of research into Greek philosophy, Freudian and Jungian theories I hope to uncover the various archetypes of masculinity.

Combining a series of primary and secondary research methods I aim to establish the importance of masculinity.

I hope to interview a sufferer of testicular cancer to determine the effects of this illness from a first hand source.  I shall also be reviewing other reports regarding this illness.

Through a series of questionnaires I aim to uncover whether men examine their testicles as described in various campaigns and their thoughts of how it would affect them.

Data Collection and Analysis

Primary research was undertaken using the questionnaire below as a reference to determine how masculine the respondents are, combined with the following questions to understand their knowledge of their gender identity and the relationship with their testicles with regards to their importance and that of the ever increasing disease, testicular cancer and its effects.  It is through these responses that I hope to  unearth what aspects of masculinity, if any, are constructed or whether they are a natural phenomena.




Each question scores either one, half or zero points:

If you checked Yes or No (i.e. with * ) then allot one point.

If you checked Maybe then allot half a point.

If you checked Yes or No (i.e. without * ) then allot zero points.

Enter your score after each question, then add up the total for that Trait.


Do you like to engage in rough physical activity?

Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:

At school did you prefer English literature over general science?

Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:

Do you enjoy reading romantic stories?

Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:

Are you very sensitive to beauty in your surroundings?

Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:

Do you enjoy shopping?

Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:

Do you feel like crying if you see a sad film?

Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:

Are you afraid of snakes, worms or spiders?

Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:

Does computer technology interest you more than the psychology of personal


Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:

Do you sometimes have sadistic fantasies?

Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:

Do you like going to dances?

Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:

Do you like aggressive scenes of sex and violence at the movies?

Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:

Would the sight of a great deal of blood make you feint?

Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:

Are you “turned off” by crude and vulgar jokes?

Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:

Do you rely on intuition as to whether or not a person is trustworthy?

Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:

Do you occasionally break down and cry?

Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:

Do you enjoy watching competitive physical sports such as boxing and football?

Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:

Are you somewhat frightened of the dark?

Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:

Are you interested in science fiction?

Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:

Do you find it difficult to resist picking up and cuddling small furry animals?

Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:

Do you often think about falling in love?

Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:

Do you startle easily if someone appears suddenly and unexpectedly?

Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:

Would you consider taking part in an orgy?

Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:

Would you enjoy singing in a choir?

Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:

Are you curious about the workings of engines or other mechanical devices?

Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:

Do you like war stories and films?

Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:

Would you enjoy painting pictures of children?

Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:

Do you feel upset if you see a bird with a broken wing?

Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:

Would you rather be an air pilot than a dress designer?

Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:

As a child, did you enjoy playing with guns?

Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:

Does it make you cringe to see men cry or hug each other?

Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:

Do you find flowers extremely beautiful?

Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:



Those with high scores are definitely living up to the macho masculine stereotype.

They are tolerant of – and may even enjoy – violence, obscenity and swearing; they are disinclined to show weakness or sentimentality of any kind, e.g. by crying or expressing love, and they rely on reason rather than intuition to come to decisions.

Those with low scores are easily upset by another’s misfortune, by blood, bugs, brutality, etc. and are fascinated by delicate matters such as romance, children, fine arts, flowers and clothes. Obviously men score much higher on average than women but there is a great deal of variation within each sex and the cultural conditioning of gender stereotypes is under increasing scrutiny.

How do you compare?

The norm on this trait is between 13-14 points (a statistical approximation). This may be represented on the following scale:


Masculinity 31 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 || 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Femininity


Do you think you were born masculine? 50%

Were you taught how to be masculine? 71% no

Did you learn how to be masculine? 71% yes

Does masculinity come from the “balls” (testicles)? 50%

To have “balls” means to be brave? 71% yes

Are balls important? 79% yes

Do balls make you a man and hence masculine? 57% no

Is the penis more important? 64% yes

Do you check your balls for lumps? 79% yes

If so how regular?

If you found a lump would you get it checked out immediately?  79% yes

If no how long would you wait?

Are you aware of the consequences of testicular cancer?  93% yes

If you had to have a testicle removed would it affect your masculinity?  14% yes 7% not sure

Do you think you would still function as a man?  100% yes

Would you be happy with the one remaining testicle?  29% no

Would you have a prosthesis (false one) put in place of the removed so it looked like you still had two?  36% no


The research questionnaires were disseminated by email and through communication by bulletin at  A total of 50 emails were posted of which, 28 per cent responded, totalling 14 participants.  The age range was between 18 to 37 and the average was 24 / 25.  Answering the Masculinity / Femininity questionnaire the lowest score was 11 and the highest, 29.  Half, 50 per cent of the respondents scored around the 16 / 17 mark and the average was 18.5.  21 per cent of the men interviewed were gay, scoring above the normal trait of masculinity, between 16 and 19 in the test and the remainder identify as heterosexual of which 21 per cent scored below 13. 5, 13 to 14 being identified as normal masculinity.  The remaining heterosexuals, 58 per cent scored above 16.  Combining the sexualities a total of 79 per cent scored above 16 identifying with the “macho masculine stereotype” indicating then that masculinity is not typically a heterosexual trait.  The next step was to determine how masculinity was established.

Half the respondents thought they were born masculine, whilst 29 per cent thought they had been taught, 71 per cent had learned how to become masculine.  21 per cent thought that they were born masculine and that they were also taught and learned this gender identity yet one respondent answered no to all three questions and elaborated by saying “I just am” indicating he has no knowledge of becoming masculine and scoring 19 in the questionnaire he typifies the macho image.  Half thought that masculinity came from the testicles but 57 per cent didn’t believe that testicles made them a man and hence masculine.  79 per cent of the men thought that testicles were important but 64 per cent thought the penis was more so.

The area of testicular cancer was then queried of which nearly all, 93 per cent were aware of the consequences although a total of only 79 per cent checked their testicles for lumps.  One  man scoring 12.5 checked his testicles yearly, and when asked about if how long he would wait if finding a lump, he said, “till scared” this confirms that fear is a factor and scoring below the normal masculine figure of between 13 / 14 he would be classed as more feminine, yet heterosexual.

Knowing that an orchidectomy would take place if the disease occurred 14 per cent said that it would affect their masculinity one respondent who answered no added the comment, “unless it affects my body from a physical point, i.e lack of hormones”, scoring 16.5 he understands that masculinity was a learned identity not a genetic one.  Although all respondents said they would still function as a man one continued stating “but i wouldn’t be the same man, due to hormone changes and psychological factors to do with disfigurement” 

When asked if they would be happy with the remaining testicle 71 per cent said yes, two of the higher scoring masculine males  elaborated one scoring 23 said “yes i wouldn’t get angry and fall out with it, we’re friends forever” and another scoring 29, “yes, Id love it like a brother” which signifies men’s use of humour whilst dealing with sensitive issues.  Enquiring whether the men would have a prosthesis 64 per cent said yes

My primary research somewhat contradicts my main body of academic research, yet there are flaws within my results owing to such a small study.  This said I believe that academic research, studies and writings that have been published outweigh these findings and my main boresearch project stands as fact.  My research has however shed a positive light that men’s attention may well be increasing towards their health.

Qualifications and Restrictions

The predictable restrictions could be men’s ability or inability to discuss factors regarding health and image.  The common traits within the hegemonic masculine personality will prevent an honest, emotional response unless the questionnaire and research is undertaken anonymously.






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[1], [1]Mystifying increase in male cancer

BRITISH cancer specialists are puzzled by an increase in the number of men contracting cancer of the testicles.   British and American doctors report an increase of up to 70 per cent in the past 10 years and the figures are continuing to rise.

Cancer of the testicles is the most common form of cancer in men aged between 20 and 34 and accounts for 13 per cent of all deaths in this age group.

But it is still rare when compared with the incidence of breast cancer in women.

The disease is most common among white, middle-class males in higher-income groups.    In particular, it has been associated with tall, thin men and one study suggested university educated men were four times more likely to contract the disease.   Researchers have ruled out venereal disease as cause of the rise but some researchers think there could be a link with congenital abnormality which goes unrecognised until the cancer is diagnosed.

More patients with testicular cancer have such abnormalities as previously undetected double kidneys or ureters than do other cancer patients.

Other researchers scoff at these theories.  A Scandinavian team is investigating if tight underpants contribute to the rise by increasing the skin temperature in the genital area.

Like breast cancer in women, testicular cancer is curable, if diagnosed in the early stages. The overall cure rate is 75 to 80 per cent.

Because of this, health workers in Britain and the United States are beginning a public education campaign.










[1] “The term ‘hegemonic masculinity’ refers to a particular idealised image of masculinity in relation to which images of femininity and other masculinities are marginalised and subordinated.  The hegemonic ideal of masculinity in current Western culture is a man who is independent, risk-taking, aggressive, heterosexual and rational.”  (Barrett 2001, 79)

[1] Duncan, N. (1999) Sexual Bullying Routledge: London. Cited in Partners An update to tackling homophobia.PDF

[1] Mac An Ghaill, M. (1994) The Making of Men: Masculinities, Sexualities, and Schooling. Open University Press: Milton Keynes. Cited in Partners An update to tackling homophobia.PDF











[1] [Conversation started on 21 Jul 2006 19:02:19]

[19:04:23] Ford : well i am currently doing my next masters project

[19:04:35] Ford : on the relationship between men and their testicles

[19:04:55] markhusak : ooh er mrs

[19:04:57] Ford : producing an awareness campaign for testicular cancer

[19:05:04] markhusak : good cause

[19:05:11] markhusak : i once got checked out

[19:05:15] Ford : did you now

[19:05:25] markhusak : n they shoved a thing down my jap’s eye

[19:05:34] Ford : for testicle cancer or a uti?

[19:05:45] markhusak : n then they made he have a piss afterwards n it proper killed

[19:05:57] markhusak : i had a lump on my ball

[19:06:04] markhusak : but they said it was a cist

[19:06:19] markhusak : they said it would go away but it aint

[19:06:24] Ford : has it not

[19:06:43] markhusak : no

[19:06:46] markhusak : its still there

[19:07:07] Ford : how did you feel when you found it

[19:07:36] markhusak : dunno

[19:07:40] markhusak : i wasnt that worried

[19:07:44] markhusak : or maybe i was

[19:07:57] markhusak : it took me a year before i went to get it checked out

[19:08:01] markhusak : maybe i was scared

[19:08:18] Ford : so you had it for a year before you went to the docs

[19:08:24] markhusak : yes

[19:08:30] markhusak : i went to st lukes

[19:08:41] markhusak : n they asked me loads akward questions like

[19:08:43] Ford : why did you wait so long

[19:09:00] markhusak : when was the last time u had sex, n is that ur girlfriend outside

[19:09:06] markhusak : like i was a junkie or sommat

[19:09:27] markhusak : i dont know, i think i was hoping that it would go away but it didnt so i thought i better check it out

[19:10:05] Ford : do you think it would have affected your masculinity

[19:11:26] markhusak : nah

[19:11:30] markhusak : maybe at the time

[19:11:36] markhusak : i dont think it matters

[19:11:41] markhusak : one ball, two balls

[19:11:45] markhusak : its all the same to me

[19:11:51] Ford : really?

[19:12:04] markhusak : yes really

[19:12:21] markhusak : im sure it would av been scary but if u loose a ball its better than dying

[19:12:36] Ford : well yes i suppose

[19:12:53] Ford : so you think you would be able to function with just 1

[19:13:06] markhusak : i dunno, u can cant ya

[19:13:12] Ford : yes you can

[19:13:13] markhusak : u can still have kids i think

[19:13:24] Ford : you can

[19:13:26] markhusak : thats the main thing

[19:13:45] Ford : so if you were to find another lump now what would you do?

[19:14:25] markhusak : probably get it checked straight away

[19:14:41] Ford : you wouldn’t self diagnose then and think it was a cyst

[19:15:08] markhusak : dunno.  i guess its better b safe than sorry

[19:15:36] markhusak : any how im off for my tea so ill see ya later

[19:15:43] Ford : see you

[19:16:11] markhusak : stay safe

[19:16:11] markhusak : cya dude

[19:16:15] Ford : you too

[19:16:17] Ford : bye

[You have closed the window on 21 Jul 2006 19:16:22]










Finding Emo

Early edits

Exploration into the Punk Rock Subculture

Aims and Objectives

”For just as the conflict between Genet’s ‘unnatural’ sexuality and the policemen’s ‘legitimate’ outrage can be encapsulated in a single object, so the tensions between dominant and subordinate groups can be found reflected in the surfaces of subculture – in the styles of mundane objects which have a double meaning.”  Hebdige, 1979Movie Get Out (2017)

It is with this quote in mind I aim to analyse the layers off ‘punk identity’ and to understand how, through graphics and fashion, ‘punk’ resisted the dominant culture of the day.  Through the ‘unacceptable’ choices Punks made such as anarchy, hedonism and living for the moment, not foreseeing a future (NO FUTURE).  This message of ‘resistance’ was conveyed through a well designed and constructed system of visual signs, communicated graphically through fanzines, clothing, record sleeves and posters and physically through everyday objects such as safety pins and bin liners.

Through the research and exploration of the ‘punk rock’ subculture I aim to uncover the inspiration and meaning behind these visual aspects of this most celebrated and yet reviled subculture.

This project therefore hopes to unearth:

When the emergence of punk occurred

Who the major influences were within punk subculture

How the punk identity was created and communicated

What the relationship is between culture and subculture

Why there is the necessity for subculture

The Emergence of Punk Rock

Punk rock is a subculture movement that emerged in the mid 1970’s.  There are various theories regarding the exact time and place of this subculture’s emergence but the major fact is that it happened and the repercussions and influences can be still felt today through the impact it had.  Punk rock occurred at both sides of the Atlantic, in New York’s East Village and London, England, practically simultaneously creating transatlantic globalisation.  As Lentini states “transatlantic exchanges (…) contributed to punk’s emergence on both sides of the Atlantic”.  For this research project I aim to concentrate on the British Punk movement and the main characters who participated in the movement.

British punk rock was conceived in London during the mid 1970’s, the inspiration for this new sound was the strong opposition from musicians regarding the acquisition and monopolisation of the rock music industry by huge businesses as Hutch states

“the music business was as corrupt and – well – fucked up as the rest of cosy, oppressive, brain-dead 1970s Britain”.  The sound was purposely crude and extreme and consisted of frenzied rhythms, hammering instruments and raucous, blaring vocals as Mazullo states “…was purely a music of the British working class.”.  British Punk bands were becoming ever more disillusioned with the political and social conditions within the UK. Indeed as Henry evidences this decline in mid 1970’s Britain when he states that: “youth faced a lack of job opportunities or, at best, the prospect of entering a mainstream world they found abhorrent”.

Although the British Punk movement had been emerging slowly in the early 1970’s the subculture itself was clearly placed on the map with the construction and unleashing of the Sex Pistols in 1975. This globalising emergence has a connecting factor, being that of self-created fashion and costume designer, Malcolm McLaren.

Constructing the Situation

McLaren whose university education spanned nearly a decade, studied at various prestigious London universities and colleges.

Attending St. Martin’s College of Art (1963) and Harrow Art College (1964).  McLaren was expelled from South East Essex (1965) and it was in this year that fellow student, Gordon Swire introduced him to his sister, Vivienne Westwood.  McLaren moved in with Swire and two other film students in a run down house in Clapham.  They were soon joined by Westwood and her son from her failed marriage to Derek Westwood.  During this time McLaren and Westwood’s relationship flourished.  He

“lectured her on the political power of art and the appeal of cult fashions. During this time, their roles were established and set for the next decade: she as the student craftsman, he the opinionated art director.”  McLaren still feeling the need for study attended Chiswick Polytechnic (1966) from which he was later expelled, establishing his rebellious, anti-authoritarian personality.  1967 saw the birth of McLaren and Westwood’s son, Joseph.  His arrival placed a great strain on their relationship, especially for McLaren.  This was also a year without academia but one where McLaren would meet fellow Situationist and collaborator, Jamie Reid.  Reid embarked on his journey of further education initially at Wimbledon Art College (1962) and then to the Croydon Art School, Surrey (1964).  During his time at Croydon, Reid became involved with the publication ‘Heatwave’, a British alliance of the Situationist International for which he designed a front cover. McLaren decided to continue his education yet again, attending Croydon College of Art (1968) to study painting.  During his studies here McLaren became interested in the political art movement, Situationist International whom he wrote his dissertation on.

The Situationist International was a political art movement created in 1957 whose influences and connections were related to Marxism, Dadaism and Existentialism. The movement consisted of a total of 70 members over its duration although never having any more than 40 members at any one time and with a minimum of 10 the Situationist’s were known for falling out within their circle. The self-proclaimed leader was Guy Debord, who ruled with absolute authority, preventing the growth of the SI unless his specific ideas were adhered to. The movement itself was extremely pro active during the 1960’s with perhaps Debord’s greatest text, ‘The Society of the Spectacle’ being written in 1967.  Following the publishing of this text the movement received its most attention during the Paris riots in 1968 and the occupation of the Sorbonne.

Debord’s book The Society of the Spectacle, was read by McLaren and became his inspiration.  Although unable to make the Paris riots McLaren teamed up with fellow Situationist, Jamie Reid who had strong connections with the British alliance of the Situationist movement.  Together they organised their first protest at the Art School, reflecting the student occupation at the Sorbonne in Paris.  That same year their collaboration was to take yet another form.  This time they began to create a film about the ‘History of Oxford Street’ which describes their account of the Gordon Riots.  Depicting the middle classes who initially attacked the catholic religion by knocking their houses down.  The working class then became involved, helping to knock down the houses.  Running out of catholic houses they turned to the wealthy houses, of which the middle classes wanted no part.  The rioters then went on to destroy all the London prisons and any establishment that prevented them from having a good time.  They then wanted to set all the lunatics free from the asylums and the lions from the Tower.  The film was never finished and McLaren and Reid parted going their separate ways.  Reid’s rebellious side had been spurred, not only by his parent’s influence but the protest of 1968 and he continued this appetite with the co-founding of the Suburban Press in 1970 alongside Jeremy Brook and Nigel Edwards.  This community news-sheet began in Croydon, soon evolved into a vehicle where Reid could display his political interests.  His involvement and interest with Situationist International was reflected by the use of their slogans and the propaganda style graphics suggesting local corruption.

As Kingston states Reid’s “anti-consumerist snipes and capers remain as cutting edge today as they were back in 1972/3, when they were first unleashed on an unsuspecting London…..’Keep Warm This Winter – Make Trouble’ ….. ‘Save Petrol – Burn Cars’ ….. ‘This Store Welcomes Shoplifters’ ….. and the classic sticker that just screamed ‘Lies !’.”

This approach which Reid continued to develop, was the inspiration that was to become the foundation of the Punk graphic.  The look was severe and subversive; identities were turned on their head, photocopiers were used and the colour intensified to the extreme and the excellent use of torn typography was perfected to a fine art.  Employing the act of detournement, a term used by the Situationist International, where established media is turned back on itself, contradicting its original cause and meaning, being a weapon against itself was Reid able to make consumerist snipes.  This process is what he would later perfect with McLaren in future works.

While Reid was engaging an attack on consumerism, McLaren attempted a final academic stint at Goldsmith’s College (1969-1971) it was here where he began to design costumes and gained an interest in fashion design.  Leaving Goldsmith’s without acheiving a degree McLaren opened his first boutique alongside Vivienne Westwood in 1971.

The boutique started life as ‘Let It Rock’, a rock-a-billy haven, specialising in 50’s memorabilia.  Initially at the back of the store in a sublet space, the shop became hugely popular and attracted customers nation-wide.  It was the establishment of this cult store where Westwood spent the majority of her time and put the seamstress skills she acquired as a child to use.  She spent her time dissecting and analysing teddy boy jackets and then recreating them.  Her seamstress skills perfected and catering for the likes of Uxbridge Teddy Boys.  The emporium continued to evolve and expanded to take over the whole store in the spring of 1972.  Tiring of the Teddy Boys racist attitude, the store was refurbished and reopened, adorned with a new look and name, ‘Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die’, which paid homage to the early death of James Dean.  The shop was aimed at bikers and the look typical of ‘Marlon Brando’, emulating the look of a ‘biker’.  Taking on new staff, McLaren employed art student, Glen Matlock who had called into the shop enquiring about brothel creepers.  Matlock was also a bass player and a huge Faces fan who were currently on tour.  Matlock watched them play at the Wembley Empire Pool on October 29.

Visiting the boutique in 1972 was Sylvain Sylvain from the New York Dolls who were touring with The Faces.  The New York Dolls formed in December of 1971, they were pre punk and played heavily on the androgyny of glam rock.  Their influences ranged from Marc Bolan and David Bowie to the Rolling Stones and the Stooges.

“The New York Dolls created a new form of hard rock that presaged both punk rock and heavy metal.”   Renowned for their drug-fuelled antics, vulgar displays and transvestism, many record companies would not take a risk in signing them, until Jerry Nolan replaced their then drummer Billy Murcia.  Murcia had died from a mishap involving drink and drugs, on tour,

”where he drowned in a bath” on November 6Mercury then proceeded to sign the group in 1973 and their next step was to record their debut album with producer Todd Rundgren.  The album of the same name was released in that summer and

“was a proto-punk revelation”  although it received rave reviews it was not a success with the public.

SEX, 430 Kings Road, Chelsea, 1976 with Ford Capri

During this time the store had introduced some changes and 1974 was the next stage of the boutique which saw the initial beginnings of punk.  Using McLaren’s shock tactics the boutiques name transformed into SEX which was displayed in huge padded pink lettering above the shop.  Displaying such a ‘dirty’ word in the light of day in such a tactile. inviting, fleshy fashion was unheard of, taking what would be seen by society to be a sacred act  that would be performed behind closed doors to be displayed in full view in the light of day for all to see.  The store was to house a vast array of subversive clothing including .fetish gear, sado-masochistic and rubber wear.

McLaren and Westwood’s notoriety had spread to the film industry and they had the luxury of designing costumes for such Ken Russell films as; Mahler and That’ll be the Day, both screened in 1974. That same year, continuing with their greatest influence McLaren and Reid were again united, involved with the layout for “Leaving the 20th Century”, the first English anthology of work written by the Situationist International by Christopher Gray.  The book included some of Jamie Reid’s cartoons and graphics to give the message a more aesthetic appeal.  After this creation Reid retreated to the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.

Late that same year McLaren paid a visit to the National Boutique show at New York’s MacAlpin Hotel where he again met up with the New York Dolls.  ‘Too Much Too Soon’ released in 1974 was a New York Dolls album produced by George “Shadow” Morton.  Morton had produced some of the 1960’s great girl bands including the Shangri-Las.  Even though this bizarre combination of proto-punk and pop seems unthinkable the sound was a success but not a commercial one.  This album was yet again a failure for the Dolls.  Mercury dropped the group and no other companies were interested in the Dolls.  This was a great opportunity for McLaren, to revive the Dolls flagging career as the Doll’s employed him as manager.  Mclaren started what would be known as political chic putting into practice the radical Situationist influences.  Using these shock tactics he dressed the Dolls in red leather and presented them in front of the USSR’s flag.  This blatant suggestion of the Dolls allegiance with communism did not sit well with Americans and their careers demise was inevitable as record companies were even more dubious about signing the band.  Members of the band started to lose faith and leave and McLaren was soon dismissed as manager.

In 1975, after his ‘failure’ to save the flagging career of the New York Dolls, McLaren returned to England with a wealth of information and experience from this short time with the group.  The SEX boutique had acquired a huge following and there were regular visitors to the shop.  One in particular being Steve Jones.  Jones was a member of the group called ‘The Strand’ who had previously formed in 1972 along with Paul Cook and Wally Nightingale.  They were in need of a manager and on McLaren’s return from America. Jones enquired whether he would be interested.  Organising a place for them to rehearse, McLaren paid a visit to watch them perform.  Seeing they had no permanent bass player and no stage presence, McLaren called on the services of current Saturday boy shop assistant cum bass player Glen Matlock.  The band was still incomplete, they needed a front man.  Another regular client of the SEX boutique was John Lydon.  His entrance in the shop caught McLarens eye, with his bright green hair, sporting a Pink Floyd t-shirt with “I hate” written on it.  Asked if he could sing, Lydon replied

No only out of tune and anyway I play the violin’”.  Auditioning in the SEX boutique Lydon was snapped up  as front man, given a new name, Johnny Rotten and by August McLaren had proceeded to construct the Sex Pistols.  The name, not only referring to the male genitalia but also the ‘dissemination’ of the SEX label clothing.  The “sexy assassins” as McLaren called them were walking mannequins and advertising vehicles for his range of clothing created alongside Vivienne Westwood at SEX, 430 Kings Road.  They were a force to be reckoned with and had as Ferrell(1995) describes, an “intentionally confrontational and disturbing style. Drawing on the violently confused imagery of sadomasochism, bondage, fascism, and anarchy”.  Anarchy was the key.  It encapsulated the whole Punk ideology.  It was a message for the people with ‘No Future’.

Although the Sex Pistols were established and their look promoted the SEX merchandise, they needed a clear identity to ‘compliment’ their image.  1976 saw McLaren call upon old art school friend Jamie Reid to work on the promotional graphics for the band.  Through the traditional use of telegram McLaren contacted Reid in the remote isles of Outer Hebrides,

“Got these guys. Stop. Interested in working with you again. Stop.”

This would give Reid the opportunity to carry on with his subversive propaganda techniques.  Creating the Punk iconography he is renowned for, to be plastered on record sleeves, posters and t-shirts, promoting the Pistols.  The influence would continue from the 1960’s Situationists and Debordism, and Reids defiant approach would create a storm within the media.

The team was now complete, the political graphic skills of Reid, Westwood’s tailoring, McLaren as impresario and the Sex Pistols as the vehicle.  Punk was here and society could never have been ready for what was about to take place.


What exactly is the meaning of “hegemony”?

“…Dominant groups in society, including fundamentally but not exclusively the ruling class, maintain their dominance by securing the ‘spontaneous consent’ of subordinate groups, including the working class, through the negotiated construction of a political and ideological consensus which incorporates both dominant and dominated groups.” Strinati, 1995

Hegemony is not a strategy exclusive to the ‘dominant’ culture, its form can emerge from social and class struggles and with Punk’s inception from a Britain in decline, brought with it its own hegemonic ideology.  The subculture ‘punk’ expressed that its roots belong to the realms of the working class yet the construction of the subculture and its content was manufactured by middle class art students, McLaren and Reid, whose influences were derived from such movements as French Situationalists, Dadaism and Surrealism.  These educated influences are not what you would find in the socially deprived streets of a working class Britain in decline but through the coercion between McLaren, Westwood and later, Reid.    Their middle class intellectual, Situationist tactics, were channelled into the working class Sex Pistols, whom they used as their political vehicle, creating a combined force which ‘dominant’ culture had to acknowledge.  The Punk’s ‘violent’ attack on society took place through the display of their clothing, the lyrics of the songs and the graphics used to promote this ideology.  Through the well designed and constructed ideas, using the politics of class, gender and sexuality the control of the ‘state’ was established.

Gender and Sexuality

They embraced alienation, and their “nihilist aesthetic” included “polymorphous, often wilfully perverse sexuality, obsessive individualism, a fragmented sense of self” .Hebdige, 1979

One of these weapons was sexuality.  Punk sexuality was suggestive, and the clothing compared to that of ‘sexual deviants’, which was housed in the shop ‘SEX’. The use of anything that was seen to be unacceptable by ‘culture’ would be used.  This was made apparent by the use of sexual fetish clothing, sadomasochism and bondage, which Westwood describes

“The bondage clothes were ostensibly restricting, but when you put them on they gave you a feeling of freedom.”  There were other clothes depicting scenes of homosexuality, suggestions of rape and paedophilia, which brought these sexual subcultures out from the underground into the light of day, like the sign above the SEX store.  These clothes took on new meanings thus forcing ‘culture’ to acknowledge the ‘abnormal’ subcultures that usually exist in the safety of night and behind closed doors making society consider elements of subcultural activity they would not deliberate which in effect challenged the dominant culture.

“Although punk rock of the 1970s did not really sustain extended interest in gender politics or sexual politics, it did provide a subcultural context in which girls could be boys and femininity could be totally rejected.”  Halberstam, 1999

As Hebdige(1988) discusses, punk women were given a place within subculture albeit one of “secondary interest” they were however able to recreate themselves in any format, challenging the hegemonic ideology of dominant culture through their refusal to “submit to the masterful gaze.”  Although the hegemonic ideology had transferred as Levine (1992) states “Punk rock retained misogynist imagery” Westwood was able to use detournement reflecting back this idea in the form of a violent attack on culture An example of this is described in the text printed on the

‘Rape’ T-shirt (Stolper and Wilson, 2004). the T-shirt featured a passage of text taken from School for Wives, a pornographic novel by Alexander Trocchi, who was an excluded member of the Situationist International.  The suggestion of this brutal act, delivered in such an erotic way, again forces culture to reconsider its position.  The thought that one could be aroused by rape is culturally abhorrent.  A further expression of defiance was displayed in the form of ‘Tits’, a T-shirt which displayed a pair of female breasts, in the correct position.  This T-shirt was unisex and gave men the opportunity to flirt with appearing  ‘cross gender’.  Their skinny, androgynous looks calling into question, gender and sexuality.

Running alongside misogyny is homophobia which was (is) deeply entrenched in society.  Westwood and McLaren also produced the “Two Cowboys” print which depicts a heavily plagiarised Tom of Finland style print of two cowboys who are half naked, their penises practically touching.  This blatant display of homosexuality was not received well.  Resisting not only dominant culture but the men who wore these items of clothing challenged hegemonic masculinity.  Their sexuality unknown, although, most probably heterosexual, suggested through this display they may be homosexual thrusting another taboo into the face of dominant culture.  The portrayal of these two men in such an act defies the moral standing of the mid 1970’s.  Alan Jones was arrested in August of 1975 under the 1824 Vagrancy Act and fined £15.  The police later visited SEX and confiscated a number of T-shirts including  the ‘Two Cowboys’ and ‘Rape’.  McLaren and Westwood were heavily fined and ordered to pay £120.


Another element of subcultural activity society will not deliberate is paedophilia.  1976 saw the outraged public reaction to Mapplethorpe’s image, ‘Honey’.  The image depicted a pre-school girl lifting her dress, exposing her genitalia, which caused such a stir that year and Ferrell discusses it’s ‘crime’, quoting The Washington Post  “… The photo advertises the availability of the child (and, by extension, all children) for photographic assault and rape.”

McLaren being the Situationist he was almost certainly sensed the publics reaction to this ‘crime’ and probably tapped into what was happening around the Mapplethorpe image.  Using this controversy to influence, he created an unsettling image for the Sex Pistols incorporating a picture of a young boy, smoking, (which had been taken from a pedophile magazine) together with a tribal manifesto, devised in the autumn of 1976 by McLaren and Bernie Rhodes, later manager of ‘The Clash’, which was entitled ‘You’re gonna wake up one morning and know what side of the bed you’ve been lying on!’.  They listed on the left over a hundred ‘Hates’ and on the right side their ‘Loves’.  Challenging members of society to make a decision.  You were either with them or against them.  The image was used again that year for the 100 Club and Club du Chalet du Lac in 1976.  This poster was used to promote the ‘Sex Pistols’ first ever-foreign concert.  The copy read, ‘London’s Most Notorious Band!’.  The text written here accompanied the image well as the poster suggests the boy was a Sex Pistol, a sexual being, which stirred a great deal of emotion within ‘culture’ as people do not want to see children portrayed as sexual beings for fear they will be aroused or stimulated by it.

‘You’re gonna wake up one morning and know what side of the bed you’ve been lying on!’

The majority of material promoting the Sex Pistols was provocative, which seems an understatement as  Ferrell discusses “In addition, British authorities ruled the band’s promotional displays to be obscene;”  Punk had created a political language which culture had to acknowledge.


“The Sex Pistols single release of ‘Anarchy in the UK’ (1976) summed up punk’s radical position where Malcolm McLaren, the self-proclaimed punk creator and Sex Pistol’s manager, was quick to point out, ‘ “ Anarchy in the UK ” is a statement of self-rule, or ultimate independence, of do-it-yourself ’.” Triggs, 2006

This do-it-yourself method was demonstrated through the use of ‘ready made’ text and imagery, of which some was blatant plagiarism, suggesting the influence of Dada, making use of the ‘art of the ready made’ was reflected in the construction of the ransom note inspired logo which Jamie Reid created for the Sex Pistols.  This use of cut and paste and the ‘do it yourself’ aesthetic was also applied to the self published fanzines.  The punk fanzine was seemingly working class through its use of language.  The intentional use of misspelling, grammatical errors and jumbled pagination suggested that the creators were uneducated continuing the expression of working class.  This constructed, humble approach helped to gain the assistance of the ‘workers’.

Punks appeal to the other minorities and subcultures helped to unify a forceful attack on the ‘state’.  Punk had a place for all ‘misfits’ of society, women, lesbians.  They were the 1% who didn’t care but had the power to structure an allegiance with other subcultures to form a hegemonic strategy.

“As the plethora of punk-inspired fanzines materialised, a unique visual identity emerged, with its own set of graphic rules and a ‘ do-it yourself ’ approach neatly reinforcing punk’s new found ‘ political ’ voice.  As independent self-published publications, fanzines became vehicles of subcultural communication and played a fundamental role in the construction of punk identity and a political community.” Triggs, 2006

The rebellious, defiant attitude, some of which was treasonable caused moral panic..  One of these treasonable offences was the release of ‘God Save the Queen’ which coincided with the Queen’s Jubilee.  Reid constructed a heavily Situationist influenced image of the Queen with a safety pin through her lip.  Britain in the 1970’s was a very patriotic place.  The British public loved the Queen and this image of Cecil Beaton’s portrait which had been defaced by the installation of a safety pin outrage society.  The Sex Pistols

lyrics declaring the Queen was fascist and was not human was another hard hit at British society and the dominant culture.  This attack with clear disregard for the consequences undermined authority.  The Sex Pistols also professed England did not have a future, ‘NO FUTURE’, the decline of Britain had taken its toll on the working classes and the Pistols were the weapon against the state.  Their declaration

”No mercy, no compromise – and No Future.” 

“The British media condemned the band (Sex Pistols), and the larger punk movement, as violent threats to British society; and British politicians raged against this perceived threat to civil order and morality.” Ferrell, 1995

In order for the ‘state’ to retrieve hegemony, Punk had to be acknowledged and absorbed into culture for it to become less powerful.  This was achieved by society accepting Punk so that it lost its edge.  This removal started by the acceptance of punk fashion into society.  The Zandra Rhodes collection introduced punk chic into the mainstream culture which started the punk decline.  

“This “semiotic guerilla warfare” is doomed to fail, mainstream culture will either incorporate (and thus destroy) a subculture or the subculture will conveniently be labelled as being too exotic to be taken seriously.”  The adoption of the mundane objects such as safety pins and razors were transformed into gold objects of adornment.  The Punk edge had been softened.  It was no longer a threat, culture had absorbed its essence and with that came the demise of the Sex Pistols.

The death of the Punk subculture was inevitable and subcultures since then have no room to evolve as Punk did because they are commodified and repackaged for mass culture, the dominant culture, so these exotic outlets are seemingly controlled and hegemony is retained.  All this said there does seem to be a subculture which is causing ripples within society which is receiving a lot of negative attention.  This subculture is EMO.


The initial beginnings of the musical genre EMO, like Punk, are open to debate although research points that the first wave began in Washington DC.   Spawned from the demise of DC Hardcore Punk around 1985 as Radin states in the “Revolution Summer” the EMO music acquired its name from the lengthier title ‘emotional hardcore’.  The sound was like punk, hard and fast, yet it had more emotional, lyrical, melodic qualities that were given the initial abbreviation of ‘emocore’ before transferring to EMO.  The influential bands at the time according to Radin were “Rites of Spring and Moss Icon”.  Numerous others developed under the ‘Dischord Records’ label during the 1980’s.  This first wave continued into the mid 1990’s when in 1994 a new genre of the music branched into what would be known as indie emo.  This off shoot of EMO was inspired by Dischord Record’s, Fugazi which continued until the turn of the millennium.

Entering the third wave in the year 2000, EMO has now evolved into more than music.  It, for many, has become a lifestyle and image, incorporating a fusion of Goth, punk and skater styles that during the beginning of the 21st century has seen Britain’s youth culture adopt and transform into a subculture that has to be recognised on some level whether positive or negative.

With this recognition, a host of assumptions and stereotypes have accompanied it during the last 6 years and people have definite preconceived ideas.  These are namely that the subcultures participants are somewhat depressed, suicidal, have a tendency to self harm and suffer from eating disorders.  Their dark clothing and supposed emotional approach to life has come under attack from culture and other subcultures.  The boys are seen to be weak for showing emotion and are therefore targeted as being gay and socially unacceptable.

Because of the stereotypes, associations and the general commodification by fashion designers and high street stores it has become difficult to determine exactly what EMO is and who EMO’s are.  As discussed earlier culture absorbs subculture so that they are unable to become overly exotic.  The high street fashion stores sell typical EMO clothing and accessories which are then adopted by none EMO’s reaffirming that subcultural fashion is immediately distributed in the high street.  This has made it difficult to determine a who’s who, hence my practical title, ‘Finding EMO’.  Members of the subculture have distanced themselves from it, bands and groups will not associate themselves with the term and attack the youth subculture no end, ridiculing freedom of expression and pushing EMO ‘into the closet’.   The line between culture and subculture is therefore blurred and harder to define and we are left to identify the members by other forms such as body modification, incorporating tattoos and piercings which are again not exclusively EMO.  The denial then that anything EMO is EMO by EMOs makes the subcultures identity ever more difficult to decipher and pinpoint.  This is achieved by the satirical internet presence of numerous

‘How to dress EMO’ sites which are seemingly controlled by EMOs and have a definite EMO community presence.

The dominant rise of the internet has increased transatlantic exchanges creating a more global apparel within EMO culture.  Web sites like have become a haven for EMOs to express themselves, indulging their narcissistic personalities with receipt of adornment from like minded ‘friends’.  Their photographs are taken with a definite style, the camera capturing the subject from a dominant high view, resulting in the obscure image of the subjects face.  This is usually achieved by holding the camera above the head at arms length, creating a dynamic image with great perspective.  Alongside this positive aspect of expression comes the abuse of the internet where attackers download the images from peoples profiles and create anti EMO campaigns, such as videos and virals accompanied by abusive and generally homophobic language.

EMO seemingly has caused a disruption not only within society but amongst other subcultures and has been subject to critique by both, receiving a great deal of negative press.

Application of Theory

The EMO subculture as discussed has received a huge amount of negative press recently and there has been numerous videos and viral animations attacking the subculture.  Message-boards on the internet are inundated with obscene remarks against the EMO community

My investigation into the ‘EMO’ scene. became an ethnographic study of the subculture which I hoped would give me an insight into the interests and function of the movement.  Producing qualitative results, I interviewed a selection of youths across Leeds, Bradford and Manchester capturing a good range of video data, focusing on their style, accessories, general attire and attitude.

Whilst observing the members of the subculture I began to draw comparisons from Hebdige’s analysis of the Punks.  I discovered that the girls refused to give into the ‘masterful gaze’ by holding hands and creating an air of sexual uncertainty.  Their outward displays of affection in public defied ‘normal’ behaviour forcing society to acknowledge them.  Like the Punks, EMO boys are incredibly androgynous.  Their slight frames accentuated through their attire of skinny fit jeans and T-shirts which are too small accompanied by various avant-garde hairstyles, are generally attacked for looking feminine with comments like “EMO fag” and other homophobic rants. The boys openly flirt with homosexuality creating  again more sexual uncertainty which the females tend to find attractive.  This suggestive behaviour undermines typical hegemonic masculinity, although the subjects are heterosexual, their polymorphous behaviour is again comparative to Hebdige’s Punks.   Both sexes were were equally nihilistic enjoying an array of alcohol and party lifestyle, whilst the boys were far more indulgent in drugs such as marijuana and far more serious about the music element than their female counterparts who had a broader taste in music.  I found that all EMOs were passionate and respectful of their friends expressing how important they were across the regions.

My aim was to produce a range of moving image pieces to communicate the fact that these members of this youth culture are in fact no different from any other youth culture be it past or present.  I wanted to show that beneath their clothing their attitude, interests and social behaviour they were akin to other youth groups / subcultures and that people could find an affinity with the group and relate to them rather than target them.  Aiming to dispel the myths behind this subculture and relieve any stereotypes and misconceptions people have the ambiguous nature of the video combined with the sound gives the viewer the opportunity to build up an image of the translated subject matter.  The piece hopes to challenge stereotypes through a series of short clips that eventually build up to create a picture of the EMO culture.


My investigation into subculture has led me to the conclusion that it is for ever changing yet ever staying the same.  This contradictory claim is backed by the historical evidence of subcultural and cultural warfare.  The fact that hegemonic ideologies are transferred from mainstream culture into subcultural groups which then form attacks upon each other, emulating  culturally ‘acceptable’ roles.  It is these adapted roles that subcultures currently emulate and defy simultaneously which lead them into acceptable culture, namely adulthood.  It is safe to say the importance of subculture is to determine where one sits within the dominant culture and how one establishes their role.  This said I do not believe that dominant culture is necessarily a positive transference as this clearly promotes stereotypes and prejudices which subcultures aim to dispel yet sadly the journey into adulthood sees the emulation and dissemination of these negative aspects.

My series of sequences communicates a more positive side of the supposed EMO ‘way of life’ which I am sure can be transferred across the board, dispersing an unknown, yet more realistic positive point of view.


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12 I groaned with pain as he eased the pressure removing the thing which had split me and then, his huge hands grasping me at the hips my blonde hair forming a pool on the dark wood between his feet, he raised me to doting love soothing the bleeding lips and causing the tearing commotion at my loins to subside in a soft corrosion. (SEX, 1974/75)

13 God save the queen

The fascist regime

They made you a moron

Potential H-bomb


God save the queen

She ain’t no human being

There is no future

In England’s dreaming


Don’t be told what you want

Don’t be told what you need

There’s no future, no future,

No future for you


God save the queen

We mean it man

We love our queen

God saves


God save the queen

‘Cause tourists are money

And our figurehead

Is not what she seems


Oh God save history

God save your mad parade

Oh Lord God have mercy

All crimes are paid


When there’s no future

How can there be sin

We’re the flowers in the dustbin

We’re the poison in your human machine

We’re the future, you’re future


God save the queen

We mean it man

We love our queen

God saves


God save the queen

We mean it man

And there is no future

In England’s dreaming


No future, no future,

No future for you

No future, no future,

No future for me


No future, no future,

No future for you

No future, no future

For you






JAY, 15


JAKE, 18



The aim of this research project is to highlight the issues surrounding homophobic bullying within schools and construct a piece of communicative media that engenders a greater awareness of this issues relating to this specific form of bullying.

There are many aspects of bullying, which have been clearly identified within this research. Bullying behaviour often goes unnoticed and can include; name calling and teasing, damage to belongings, excluding people from social activities, spreading malicious rumours, abusive phone calls, text bullying (via your mobile phone), physical bullying or threats. Verbal Physical Extortion Gesturing Exclusion These forms have a proven detrimental effect on a large percentage of children.  Bullying at its most destructive claims lives.  This is clearly unacceptable.

A broad range of both primary and secondary research has been undertaken, with specific relevance being placed on the National Curriculum, its current structure and policies with regards to educating difference and sexual awareness, bullying and homophobic bullying strategies.  Focus has also centred upon existing and contemporary bullying campaigns with regard to their nature, medium and modes of dissemination.

Aims and Objectives

  • To undertake research in to the varying forms of bulling
  • To focus this research towards the varying forms of bullying within schools
  • To undertake a broad range of both primary and secondary research regarding this topic, with specific relevance being placed upon the National Curriculum
  • To identify and discuss existing mechanisms / structures which are designed to prevent / alleviate these issues within schools
  • To investigate existing policies with regards to educating difference and sexual awareness within the National Curriculum
  • To specifically refine this research towards the issue of homophobic bullying within schools
  • To identify and discuss existing strategies and mechanisms designed to prevent / alleviate these issues
  • To utilise these findings in order to create an effective awareness campaign relating to this specific form of bullying.


The repeated intimidation of others by the real or threatened infliction of physical, verbal, written, electronically transmitted, or emotional abuse, or through attacks on the property of another. It may include, but not be limited to actions such as verbal taunts, name-calling and put downs, including ethnically-based or gender-based verbal put downs, and extortion of money or possessions.”

Bullying is a complex issue that can manifest itself in many forms. Complete agreement upon one single definition is quite difficult given the nature of the subject and the fact that, in general it is very personal experience and individual specific. This said there remains common agreement and consensus that the effects of bullying are always detrimental and that as Zimmerman et al states “is a major public health issue, the risk factors for which are poorly understood”. It is with this in mind that this research project has been undertaken in an attempt to more fully understand the potential reasons / causes of bullying in general and by doing so ultimately inform and construct an effective awareness campaign that attempts to address these inherent themes and issues.

There are numerous forms and of bullying, however the more mainstream manifestations of bullying can be described as falling into the following main categories*


In classist bullying, a person is targeted for representing a perceived class or socio-economic group. This not only impacts on the individual person, but on their families and others perceived to be from that same group.


People with Special Educational Needs or disabled people may be less able or more reluctant to articulate experiences as well as others. However, they are often at greater risk of being bullied, both directly and indirectly, and usually about their specific difficulties or disability.


In homophobic bullying, a person is targeted for being perceived as a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (trans) person. People do not have to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans to suffer homophobic bullying. This bullying not only impacts on the individual person, but on their families and others perceived to be from that same group. It may be based on gender stereotyping.


In racist and religious bullying, a person is targeted for being perceived as being a member of a different ethnic, cultural or religious, group. People do not have to be of that group to suffer racist and religious bullying. This bullying not only impacts on the individual person, but on their families and others perceived to be from that same or similar group. Inappropriate assumptions maybe made about some one’s religion or belief because of their ethnic origin.


In sexist bullying, a person is targeted for being perceived as being a member of a particular gender. This bullying impacts on the individual person and on all men and women.

*It is important to note that people can be assigned to a member of more than one group.


Bullying in effect is a way to cause distress and disrespect either mentally of physically through the continuous tactical use of various passive or aggressive mechanisms.  These can take the form of

PHYSICAL – hitting, kicking, pinching, sexual assault, extortion, stealing, hiding belongings;

VERBAL – name calling, mockery, insulting, making offensive remarks, sexual innuendo, threatening;

INDIRECT – spreading unpleasant stories about someone, exclusion from social groups, rumour mongering, graffiti, defacing of property, display of inappropriate material

In the report entitled “Tackling Bullying” commissioned by ChildLine, funded by the DfES in 2003 saw 1000 children in 12 schools interviewed to establish why, even though the majority of schools have anti bullying policies, children are still calling ChildLine in such vast numbers.  The views of the children and young people detailed that approximately half (51%) of all primary school children and (54%) secondary pupils believed that bullying was either a big or quite a problem. However these findings appear in stark contrast when compared to the actual percentage of children who actually admitted to having personally suffered from some form of bullying themselves within the same report. Here only (28%) of all secondary school children felt that they had directly experienced some form of bullying compared to over half (51%) of all of all primary children questioned.

On a base level these research findings appear to highlight some anomalies. Indeed they even appear to actually contradict one another somewhat. Do these findings show that bullying becomes less severe / prevalent within secondary schools or are there a large proportion (26%) of children within secondary schools suffering in silence?  This attitude from children is reinforced by quotes from adults, such as:

“Bullying is a part of child hood better get used to it”

“Teasing, name-calling, excluding from games and spreading rumours have always happened and always will.”  Anonymous parent

“When nine-year-old Sebastian Clarke came home from school saying another child kept picking on him, his mum Jackie thought he was being a bit soft. ‘My first instinct was that there was no problem, or that it was just something and nothing and he’d soon sort it out,’”

Children therefore are receiving mixed messages.  Why should they report they’re suffering if they are only to be rejected further?  This lack of support from adults only adds to their isolation and misery.  I suggest that adults in caring positions such as parents/guardians and teachers need to readdress their beliefs regarding bullying and try to remove the ideology that has been firmly entrenched that bullying is acceptable and a ‘normal’ way of life. This could be achieved through a more open based form of communication where children and young people’s views are heard rather than dismissed.

It is important then to note that children have other places to turn to anonymously, such as ChildLine.  The ChildLine service counselled 141,872 during the period April 2003 to March 2004, which is a staggering increase of 18% in comparison to the 119,746 who used the service the previous year, April 2002 to March 2003.  According to Government statistics the percentage of people under age 16 fell from “25 per cent in mid-1971 to 19 per cent in mid-2004” so this increase is even more dramatic than it seems, as the youth population is the smallest it has been.  You need to confirm this for the reader.

Summary – children calling about bullying

All figures are calculated for the period 1 April to 31 March.

Table 1

2003/04 2002/03
Age Number of children % of total Number of children % of total
11 & UNDER 8498 27 5658 26
12-15 YEARS 10361 33 6911 32
16-18 YEARS 602 2 380 2
AGE NOT GIVEN * 11616 37 8917 41
TOTAL ALL CHILDREN 31077 100 21866 100

*Many children who call ChildLine choose not to give their age. Percentages are for all

Table 2

BEENBULLIED Not at all Only once or twice Sometimes(2-3 times per month) Once perweek Several times per week
OVERALL 55.5 32.3 4.3 3.8 4.1
BOYS 56.8 30.5 4.9 4.0 3.8
GIRLS 53.9 34.3 3.7 3.6 4.5
OVERALL 73.4 23.7 1.3 1.0 0.6
BOYS 71.9 24.1 1.7 1.5 0.8
GIRLS 75.1 23.1 0.9 0.5 0.4



Bullying is a complex issue and the perpetrators who carry out this kind of attack have a varied profile as evidenced by Smith when he states that: “Children who bully others can come from any kind of family, regardless of social class or cultural background.”  There is however a general theme that continues throughout, namely that something or someone is making the bullies feel insecure and self-esteem is incredibly low.  It is understood that some bullies suffer from a lot of distress caused by grief, anxiety, or unhappiness. These bullies are most likely to use fighting, alcohol and drug abuse as mechanisms for dealing with their problems. In simplistic terms these people usually bully in order to make themselves feel better and are in need of immediate support, guidance and help.  In the “Bullying  Symptoms, Strategies and Solutions That Work.” report, ChildLine established 38% of male and 21% of female bullies had suicidal tendencies.  These percentages are evidently a reason for concern but the bullying of others is inexcusable and should clearly be prevented. At the same time we need to work with these children and young people in an attempt to address the roots of the problem as a whole.  Establishing whether they have any grievances at home or school which may be affecting them psychologically, listening to their views.

The bullies’ behaviour is usually with the intent of gaining respect.  This is usually displayed in the form of attention seeking exhibitionism in order to impress, which is at most disruptive and tends to be “defiant”, disrespectful and disapproved by others.  The bully is usually unwilling or unable to recognise and distinguish the difference between respect and fear and in their attempt to gain respect through their intimidating behaviour; they frighten their peers and disrespect their elders.  This behaviour is a form of attack whether passive or aggressive. There is a tendency and inability to accept responsibility for their actions, (although this said I am sure that this could be used across the board with regards to children’s behaviour) combined with a “lack of remorse” and empathy and the addiction to the empowerment they gain from bullying, these people in effect are a destructive force that needs to be challenged.

For some people bullying seems like normal behaviour as they have not been well informed in how to behave and it is thought that bullying takes place as a natural form within their home life.  The bully may well have suffered some form of abuse or are suffering from some form of bullying themselves within their home environment.

There are also bullies who bully through peer pressure whose behaviour is so to fit in with a larger group.  Although this is still a case for concern this type of bully feels remorse for their behaviour, therefore has a conscience and is normally willing to accept responsibility for their actions.

Another factor that could cause a person to bully is the exposure to violence either on television or through video games.  This can have a detrimental effect on a child’s personality.  Anderson states that “playing violent video games has been found to account for a 13% to 22% increase in adolescents’ violent behaviour” however the Committee on Public Education states “there has not been enough time to completely assess the influence they have on the well being of a child as they are so new.”  These games increase a child’s proclivity to violent behaviour far more than passive media such as television.  Television, although not proven to cause aggression, should be limited to only a couple of hours a day.  There needs to be a good balance of parenting, including emotional support for their children and the provision of good stimulation and physical interaction. Children who watch more than this are generally being emotionally neglected.   Browne states “Parents who don’t take a great interest in their children and what they are watching are also those parents who emotionally neglect them or physically assault them”.  These children who are neglected may tend to become more violent which may increase the factor that they go on to be bullies.  Zimmerman suggests that “maximising cognitive stimulation and limiting television watching in the early years of development might reduce children’s subsequent risk of becoming bullies.”

It is impossible then to analyse the outline of all bullies as agreement of a clear diagnosis is incomplete.  We can establish though, everybody is capable of bullying.


Like the profile for a bully, the target is very varied but again has a connecting factor, this being difference.  This statement seems ridiculous for we are all different and individual which surely should be a positive thing as

”Being different is a gift…”

These differences could be such as weight, social background, race, religion, appearance, gender, sexual orientation, Special Educational Needs or disability, to name a few.  Potential targets tend to be above average academically, high achievers, imaginative and creative.  They are usually quite passive and not as physically powerful as the bully tending to avoid conflict, having a low proclivity to violence.

Children with obvious differences aren’t the only victims of bullying. Some children are victimised because they are different in some way, but many others are bullied for no obvious reason as bullies have a tendency to be opportunistic.

Moldrich writing for ChildLine understands ”that adults tend to believe that people don’t pick on others without cause,” which suggests that it is the targets fault for being bullied, however “ChildLine found in a recent survey that none of the children who admitted to bullying singled out their own or their targets individual characteristics as an explanation.”  This last statement cannot be taken for granted as I established earlier, children who bully do not accept responsibility for their actions.  Admitting to bullying is one thing, (as they are usually proud of their actions) but admitting why, requires honesty and decency and the conscience to realise that what they have done is wrong and unacceptable.


The Crown Prosecution describes homophobia as

”A fear of or a dislike directed towards lesbian, gay or bisexual people, or a fear of or dislike directed towards their perceived lifestyle, culture or characteristics, whether or not any specific lesbian, gay or bisexual person has that lifestyle or characteristic. The dislike does not have to be so severe as hatred. It is enough that people do something or abstains from doing something because they do not like lesbian, gay or bisexual people.”

In 1967 Weinberg began calling some of his fellow clinicians homophobes. Homophobia was an expression considered to be an acceptable alternative form, developed more fully in his book, Society and the Healthy Homosexual, published 1972, to refer to the psychological, irrational fear of or a dislike directed towards lesbian, gay or bisexual people.In an interview by Raj Ayyar, George Weinberg is quoted as describing homophobia as:

“Homophobia is just that: a phobia. A morbid and irrational dread, which prompts irrational behaviour flight or the desire to destroy the stimulus for the phobia and anything reminiscent of it. Because human beings are the stimulus, a common homophobic reaction is brutality in many cases, as we all know. We also know its consequences.”

Homophobia is fuelled by the inability or unwillingness to change the hatred taught during childhood.  It is manifested through varying levels, that transfer and filter into primary school children, which creates, the fear of people who are different.  Alongside this is the promotion of homophobia by the various religious organisations that see same sex relationships as a threat to heterosexuality.  How can 6% of the population who cannot breed, and rely on heterosexuals’ procreation threaten humanity?  There is also the natural feeling of repulsion, as a heterosexual would feel with regards to engaging in sexual activity with the same gender.  Although they identify that same sex activity is not for them, some tend to generalise and generate the belief that it is wrong for everybody.  This is where people need educating about difference and clear acceptance needs to be put in place so that people may live their lives how they choose. Not only is homophobia an insidious, groundless fear of homosexuality and its perceived lifestyle but the fear that they themselves may be homosexual or have homosexual thoughts.  This behaviour is most commonly described as “homosexual panic” connecting homophobia with repressed homosexual urges. Researching homophobiaAdams et al found that homophobic men are aroused by homosexual stimuli although the results need more research as it has been found that fear can arouse a man, identifying the possibility that homophobic men are fearful of their own mind and responses thus being less adjusted to non homophobes with regards to sexual difference.

It is these attitudes that filter through society to young children, as they are intuitive and realise that there are definite negative associations with the word gay and being homosexual.  Although they have no inclination what happens sexually between same sex relationships they do understand it is not accepted and undesirable.


Homophobic bullying is a particular type of bullying which is related to a person’s sexuality or assumed sexuality.  If young people do not conform to the stereotypical image of the dominant masculine or feminine role, which brings into question their sexual identity or perceived orientation, they will be subjected to this form of abuse.

“Homophobia can be manifested on a number of levels.”


This is behaviour that establishes a climate of homophobia, even if it is not intended to do so. 

The telling of jokes featuring homosexuals

The making of unpleasant abstract remarks

The use of innuendo and mockery, e.g. “lesbian time” (for “let’s be on time”)

The casual use of terms of abuse (e.g. Homosexual, bent, fag, faggot, gay-boy, woos, homo, poof, poofter, bender, queer, lesie, lesbo, lemon, dyke….)

The teasing of an individual rightly or wrongly identified as gay in a manner that they are thought, or claim, not to care about



This is behaviour that specifically harms a specific individual or identifiable group 

the social ostracism, marginalization or rejection of individuals thought to be gay;

Gossiping or spreading rumours about someone’s sexuality

Obscene graffiti

The promotion of the idea that homosexuals are per se wicked or depraved (e.g. “god hates fags” posters)

The stipulation that some activities or benefits are only open to or appropriate for male-female or married couples



This is behaviour that proposes physical violence to a specific individual or identifiable group. 

Incitement to violence against homosexuals in general

Personally directed verbal abuse

Taunting, ridicule and mockery

The use of obscene gestures

Intimidation and threats of material abuse



This is behaviour that does material harm to some person. 

Theft of property

Damage to property

Physical assault

Sexual assault



Homophobic bullying behaviour is generally established within the first few years of primary school.  Research has shown that 82% of teachers are aware of homophobic language.  Words that call into question young persons masculinity or femininity are incredibly damaging.  The use of the word gay is common homophobic language, used frequently within the playground and seen as a general insult and form of abuse. This word, although usually misunderstood and used out of context, is a word that children recognise as a “negative adjective.” Through this misuse of the word gay, children call into question others’ sexuality thus empowering and establishing their own identity.  This is particularly common within young boys as competitive masculinity stimulates this act of aggression.  The use of this word does not necessarily mean that the person receiving the abuse is gay but that he does not appear masculine enough.  Subjects of this abuse could be academic types, who work hard in their studies.  As Epstein describes, “boys who work hard at school are often labelled as gay and this may deter them from studying and achieving their potential.”  Academically bullies tend to be below average as it is not seen to be cool to be intelligent or seemingly to have good morals, hence they resort to “deceitfulness” and manipulation in order to succeed, this is especially prevalent in males, as they tend to reject studies and opt for more masculine areas such as sports.

The word gay is sometimes used out of turn to describe something that is dysfunctional or worthless.  Children may use the word to describe an object, for example “This computer isn’t working it’s being gay.”  Clearly the computer cannot feel sexual urges and so the description is because it is being dysfunctional.

GAY, slang (chiefly U.S.). Foolish, stupid, socially inappropriate or disapproved of; ‘lame’. Oxford English Dictionary SECOND EDITION 1989

Amazingly one could speculate that it is society’s prejudiced view on homosexuality that has transformed this word into this negative adjective, as being gay is deemed socially inappropriate and undesirable. Children are generally unaware in primary school years about sexual difference and sexuality and this use of homophobic language sees prejudice firmly entrenched in these early years, as Jennett discusses, “are likely to be highly resistant to change in later life.”

This view clearly does not promote a healthy environment for a same sex attracted young person to consider disclosing their sexuality or ‘come out’.  This is very difficult for young people as all they know is who they are.

The famous 1948 Kinsey report came up with the unpopular and startling result that as many as 10% of the male population was homosexual, basing this on self reported homo-gender sexual activity. Recently the government, Department of Trade and Industry has recently released the first official figures regarding what part of the population is homosexual.  Statistics show that “just over 6%” of the United Kingdom is gay or lesbian” asTowney quotes the DTI.  This figure does not include the people who are homosexual that will not come out or disclose themselves as gay or lesbian, in fear of family or social ostracism.

Previous available data suggests that between 2-9% of young people may have had some same-sex sexual experience. The 2001 census found there was a population of 58,789,194 and around 20% of that figure are under 16.  That would suggest that there are approximately 11,757,839 children under 16.  If we then apply the 6% DTI figure we could estimate then that there are a possible 705,470 homosexual children.


‘I think it can make a difference if someone explains to bullies what effects they have on people, so they can understand the gravity of their actions. Maybe if the people who bullied me had heard that I tried to commit suicide, it would have made a difference.’

Rivers’ (1998) study of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth found that

82 per cent had experienced name-calling at school,

71 per cent had been ridiculed,

60 per cent had been hit or kicked,

59 per cent had the subject of rumours,

58 per cent had been teased,

52 per cent had been frightened by a look or stare,

49 per cent had experienced theft,

40 per cent had attempted suicide.


The rate of suicide among young lesbians, gay men and bisexual people in the UK is much higher than the average for young people andsince 1984 attempted suicide has doubled from 20% to 40% for same sex attracted pupils.  This is an appalling figure, which is in desperate need of attention. If there are a possible 705,470 homosexual children and 40% of those attempt suicide, the calculation suggests that 282,188 children have slipped through the net and not been helped by society or the education system.  There needs to be clear recognition of homosexual children in order to establish how best to tackle this issue.


What is wrong? Homophobic bullying is endemic in British schools.  Four in five secondary school teachers say they are aware of verbal homophobic bullying. One in four secondary teachers are aware of physical homophobic bullying. Just 6 per cent of British schools have fully inclusive anti-bullying policies which address homophobic bullying.

In civilised society it is thought that homosexuality is becoming more acceptable and homophobic bullying is decreasing but for young people within the school environment this may not be true as the tables below describe

Table 3

In 1984 a survey of LGB young people found that: In 1998, a GALOP survey found that:
60% had experienced verbal abuse 83% had experienced verbal abuse
20% had been beaten up. 47% had experienced physical abuse.

Table 4 Experiences of homophobic bullying.

Male (%) Female (%)
             Name-calling 85 69
             Public ridicule 75 54
             Hitting/kicking 68 31
             Rumour mongering 57 67
             Teasing 58 56
             Frightened by a look/stare 54 44
             Belongings taken 47 31
             Social isolation 24 41
             Sexual assault 13 5

Table 5 Homophobic bullying in secondary schools: where it happens.

Corridors Classrooms School grounds Changingrooms On way home Otherplaces
Name-calling ??? ??? ? ?
Teasing ?
Hitting/kicking ?? ??
Frightened by look/stare ? ?? ??? ?? ?
Rumour mongering ?? ??
Public ridicule ?? ??? ?? ? ?
Sexual assault ?
Belongings taken ? ?

??? = frequently ?? = regularly ? = sometimes

Homophobic bullying incidents are generally left unnoticed and go unchallenged due to schools’, society’s and religious movements’ denial of the existence of homosexual children and also the wide acceptance of the hegemonic masculine attitude boys display.  Such homophobic incidents may also go unreported, as a homosexual child could be embarrassed with regards to the situation and the social in-acceptance and invisibility they may feel.


”We need to work with these children and young people, not just to suspend them, Adrienne asserted. One young victim said that suspension just gave the bully time off to lie in bed and plan how to attack them at the end of the day! “

Adrienne Katz

Director of Young Voice


The government issued the “Sex and Relationship Education Guidance“ booklet that advises teachers and members of schools about structuring their policy.  This policy is required to be up to date and developed with input from parents and guardians and inclusive of all pupils.  There is the need for consultation of carers with regards to sex and relationship education, especially for primary school pupils.  Although as established earlier homophobic and sexist language is firmly entrenched in this educational environment and I feel there needs to be a firm policy addressing these factors before the hegemonic masculine, misogynist and homophobic attitudes are developed.  Also included should be how this information will be delivered allowing the parent/carer decide on the appropriateness of this subject regarding their child.  As it is not the sole responsibility of the school to educate children in this sensitive area, the school should work harmoniously with the parents.  This can be easier said than done, as many people find addressing the subject of sex and relationships difficult, not only parents but teachers as well.  Extra support maybe required in informing educators within the school especially areas regarding homosexuality and same sex relationships.  There is a particular need to address all forms of sexual behaviour as pupils whom adults think are not engaging in sexual activity, usually are and the rate of infections transmitted sexually are incredibly prevalent within young teens. Occurrence of sexually transmitted infections is continuing to rise and the incidence of HIV/AIDS infection remains unacceptably high, particularly for young men. 39%of those with AIDS in the UK are in their 20’s, most of whom will have contracted HIV in their teens.  This can only affirm the necessity for a more informative sex and relationship education.  There seems to be a great deal of concern for the emotional well being of children, yet the facts are evident that they go out and find out for themselves unknowing the consequences that occur.  I realise that some pupils will not be exercising their sexuality as early as others but nevertheless I feel there is a need to educate all pupils regardless.  If the continuation of this lack of information regarding sex and relationships, their enjoyment and hazards, the figures discussed earlier will only increase.  Schools therefore have an obligation to educate, along with carers the varying aspects regarding this sensitive area.  I have therefore isolated specific chapters within the policy document highlighting certain areas that incorporate the education of homosexual/same-sex relationships and difference.

Chapter 4 to the Sex and Relationship Education Guidance Head teachers, Teachers & School Governors Status: good practice shown below

4. This is the first time that schools have had a national framework to support work in this area. As part of sex and relationship education, pupils should be taught about the nature and importance of marriage for family life and bringing up children. But the Government recognises – as in the Home Office, Ministerial Group on the Family consultation document “Supporting Families”- that there are strong and mutually supportive relationships outside marriage. Therefore pupils should learn the significance of marriage and stable relationships as key building blocks of community and society. Care needs to be taken to ensure that there is no stigmatisation of children based on their home circumstances.


This chapter sees the recognition of same sex carers and parents as stable homes.  This along with the recent acknowledgement with regards to the civil partnership denotes this as a positive recognition.  Although this recognition does not seem to stretch to the educational environment, as established earlier in1984 60% of homosexual pupils experienced verbal abuse and 20% had been beaten up whereas, 1998, 83% had experienced verbal abuse and 47% had experienced physical abuse.  This is an enormous increase, which clearly needs rectifying.  As highlighted in Table 3 these figures are not on the decrease.

5 Pupils need also to be given accurate information and helped to develop skills to enable them to understand difference and respect themselves and others and for the purpose also of preventing and removing prejudice. Secondary pupils should learn to understand human sexuality, learn the reasons for delaying sexual activity and the benefits to be gained from such delay, and learn about obtaining appropriate advice on sexual health.

Paragraph 5 establishes the need for education with regards to human difference.  Although this is not recommended until secondary school, the removal of prejudice will become much harder.  As discussed earlier bullying and prejudice against homosexuals is firmly entrenched in primary school and prevention will be too late.  Clearly there needs to be more research into the ways of delivering the information, regarding loving, stable relationships that are outside marriage to primary children.  This information does not need to involve sex.

1.25 It is therefore important for policies to be both culturally appropriate and inclusive of all children. Primary and secondary schools should consult parents and pupils both on what is included, and on how it is delivered. For example, for some children it is not culturally appropriate to address particular issues in a mixed group. Consulting pupils and their families will help to establish what is appropriate and acceptable for them. Generally, parents appreciate support from the school, if they are consulted and involved.

There need to be clear involvement with parents and carers to ensure a positive acceptable delivery of information.  This is to account for other religious and cultural beliefs. It is necessary to respect others wishes although I do firmly believe that if consulted by a pupil information should be delivered respectfully, giving great consideration to their position.



1.30 It is up to schools to make sure that the needs of all pupils are met in their programmes. Young people, whatever their developing sexuality, need to feel that sex and relationship education is relevant to them and sensitive to their needs.  The Secretary of State for Education and Employment is clear that teachers should be able to deal honestly and sensitively with sexual orientation, answer appropriate questions and offer support. There should be no direct promotion of sexual orientation.

No direct promotion means just that.  Heterosexuality should not be promoted as better than homosexuality; this is clearly identified within this policy, as the use of copy is not directly promotional of any sexuality.  As established earlier in chapter 4 of the booklet there are recognised stable relationships outside that of heterosexuality and marriage.

1.31 Sexual orientation and what is taught in schools is an area of concern for some parents. Schools that liaise closely with parents when developing their sex and relationship education policy and programme should be able to reassure parents of the content of the programme and the context in which it will be presented.

1.32 Schools need to be able to deal with homophobic bullying. Guidance issued by the Department (Social Inclusion: Pupil Support Circular 10/99) dealt with the unacceptability of and emotional distress and harm caused by bullying in whatever form – be it racial, as a result of a pupil’s appearance, related to sexual orientation or for any other reason.

We have identified earlier that schools do not address homophobic bullying as vigilantly as they should.  The fact that 6% of schools, the same percent of the homosexual population, have a fully inclusive policy, which covers homophobic bullying is insufficient as the amount of same sex attracted youths that attempt suicide is 40%.  This figure is in desperate need of attention and we all need to realise that there are children very much in need of our help.


In the, Bullying, Don’t Suffer in Silence- an anti-bullying pack for schools, Professor Peter Smith states that:

23. Strategies for reducing such bullying include:

Including it in the school’s anti-bullying policy – so pupils know discrimination is wrong and the school will act

Covering it in INSET days on bullying in general

Guaranteeing confidentiality and appropriate advice to lesbian and gay pupils

Challenging homophobic language

Exploring issues of diversity and difference – discussing what schools and society can do to end discrimination

Exploring pupils’ understanding of their use of homophobic language – they may not understand the impact


A selection of schools have policies focussing particularly on behaviour, but because of the varying degrees of bullying and that, as established earlier is a very personal experience and individual specific, schools are therefore looking toward different approaches which include the ”No-Blame Approach, the Pikas Method, Circle Time and Peer Counselling.” 


The initial step is to interview the target, who is then asked to draw a picture or write a poem on how the bullying has made them feel and the effect it is having. The next is a group meeting incorporating a group of students including the bullies, bystanders and people who are not involved, along with a teacher.  They then discuss how the bullied target is feeling and the group then aim to find a solution through the suggestion of positive, practical problem solving solutions.

The purpose of this approach is to stop the bully from feeling threatened and that they are not being blamed for what they have done but they can be a positive part in finding the solution to the problem.  The bystanders are involved in the discussion as their lack of intervention regarding the bullying is seen as an action, which makes allowances for the bullying.

It is then each individual’s responsibility to carry out the found solution and each have a responsibility to ensure that no bullying takes place.  Thus including the bullied target in play times and ensuring future involvement.

Progress is monitored when the group next meets which is usually around a week later.  The children then discuss what they have achieved.  This is supposed to give the children a feeling of success.

If a school decides to employ this method, its approach needs to be clearly discussed with the parents/carer of the target.  It has been found that many parents seem to believe that this method lets the bully off without punishment, as usually emotions run quite high when a parent finds out their child is the target of bullying.  This said the “No Blame” approach was a resounding success in hull when it was carried out in Hull.  From the 55 cases that used this method there was an 80% success rate which seems an incredibly successful amount.


This strategy to deal with bullying is apparently quite effective.  It involves a counsellor discussing the issue with the bullying ringleader and then with his comrades before any contact has been made with the target.  This is so the target does not appear to have been naming names and placing the blame.

The discussion then sees the counsellor explaining that no blame has been placed and how the target is feeling with regard to the current situation.  The bullies are then asked how they think the situation could be improved.  If no suggestions are made then the counsellor may do so.  This method of communicating initially with the bullies prevents antagonism and the defensive behaviour a bully might feel.  Also with the removal of punishment avoids the possibilities of tension and the bully retaliating.

The next step after adequate suggestions have been made, the counsellor meets with the target and then evaluates from their point of view.  The counsellor also analyses the target ensuring that they are not provoking the situation.  If so this is acknowledged without the counsellor judging or blaming.

A series of individual meetings are held with the people involved which then leads to a whole group meeting to acknowledge that the problem has been resolved.


Circle time is used in many schools.  The structure is that the children sit in a circle and for a short period of time, play games or do something enjoyable.  After that period they are then able to discuss issues that they have as a group, which can include bullying.  This seems strange that the reward comes first but I imagine that this method eases the children into a comfortable environment so that the group can communicate efficiently.  This dynamic setting is usually coupled with the use of an object, which determines that the only person who holds it shall speak.  With the use of this implement the group cannot shout out or laugh at the person holding the object.

The teacher can use this time effectively and get to the root of issues by asking some key questions, for instance, “If anybody knows anyone who is being bullied then change places.”  The children then change places if they know of anyone.  This gives the teacher a great insight into the size of the problem.


These strategies are a combined method of communication brought together to ensure the school is a safe place and that bullying is not tolerated.  They are usually implemented in secondary schools as assurance that new pupils will feel safe.

The older pupils participating in the scheme are volunteers and are usually girls.  They undergo an intense training program for a month, learning about aspects of bullying and the effects it has on people’s lives.  These pupils are generally identified by a badge or ribbon and are there to help.  They also learn to deal with younger people who are suffering from aspects of bullying.  They do not deal with this just by themselves, as there is a strong teacher involvement as some of the possible issues that could be encountered could be aspects such as child abuse.

Alongside the support of these volunteers is a designated room for where people who have not yet made any friends, to spend time at lunch or break time, where they can interact with people like themselves and establish relationships.  Here they can use the space to play indoor games, chat and continue with their studies.  For children who are experiencing bullying or have any issues they need resolving, but wish to remain anonymous have the opportunity to air their grievances through the use of boxes situated around the school where children can post notes with their issues on.


A strategy that is becoming increasingly more popular and effective within schools is the ‘telling’ method.  If the bullied target is too afraid to report the bullying the bystanders are aware that it is their responsibility to report to a person of authority.  The bystander will not be accused of telling tales although we know that some children fear that they too will be bullied, but if the reporting continues then the bully will never get away with the crime and the school will become a safer place, although we will never actually resolve why the child bullies.


These strategies all seem very liberal in their approach and I do hope that it is because these methods have made bullying easier to report that the figures have become ever more increasingly high, even though the population of people 16 and under is far less than the last census.  I hope that bullying campaigns and strategies help to bring the numbers down.


A 60 second film is to be launched on 3 Sept by Ivan Lewis to support his zero tolerance message that all forms of bullying are unacceptable and encourages children to ‘tell someone’ if they are being bullied. We see young people in a series of everyday situations finding creative ways to share their problem with adults, including a parent, grandparents, a teacher, a lunchtime supervisor and ChildLine.

This campaign by Ivan Lewis identifies the need to tell somebody about the bullying and not to suffer in silence.  As discussed earlier there is a great deal of bullying that goes unreported, as children do not see adults as supportive figures as a huge percentage of pupils identified a great deal of risk associated with informing adults about the incidents as adults are seen as thinking that it is just part of growing up.  This campaign I feel is greatly necessary and wonderfully executed. Awareness created by this campaign identifies that the targets have supporting roles to turn to and not to be afraid of reporting the incidents. Within this campaign the children attempt to communicate with adults through various means possible.

There has also been another recent campaign involving some celebrities, such as Sharon Osbourne, Vernon Kaye and the Sugarbabes to mention a few.  This was part of the campaign, which incorporated the promotion of the blue anti bullying band.  The campaign was the delivery of a poem by the various celebrities that was courtesy of Bully Online.  For me this campaign I feel was nothing more than promotion material for the celebrities own careers.  The delivery of the poem felt false and provoked a negative response from me.  I realise that children will admire the influential people that clearly do not condone bullying, and hopefully they will take notice and not continue to bully.  Although this poem is from the eyes of the bullied, in an attempt to make the bully realise that the target is just a person like them.  We know that there are a great deal of similarities between target and bully but we also know that the majority of bullies feel no remorse for their actions. It is with this thought in mind that I continue to think that this campaign is unsuccessful in its delivery.


Rivers’ (1998) study of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth found that 82 per cent had experienced name calling at school, 71 per cent had been ridiculed, 60 per cent had been hit or kicked, 58 per cent had been teased, 59 per cent had the subject of rumours, 49 per cent had experienced theft, 52 per cent had been frightened by a look or stare, and 40 per cent had attempted suicide.”

JAKE, 18 “There was one bloke who really annoyed me. He had a funny high-pitched voice and he jumped even if you just said ‘Hello.’ We hid his stuff, pushed him out of queues, and everyone knew better than to talk to him. We just did it for a laugh. I suppose he must have hated us.” 

DARREN, 17 “I suppose I just messed around most of the time at school. I had a couple of mates and we used to make the younger kids pay us every week or we’d give them a right kicking. We must have been pretty frightening. None of that’s much good to me now.”

JAY, 15 “It got to be a habit.  I felt good seeing him cry. The others laughed and that made me feel even better. But then the teacher said that he was in the hospital because he had tried to hurt himself to get away from the bullying. It was only a bit of fun really – I didn’t mean him to take it seriously.”

I felt that there was a need to take a different point of view regarding this global problem, so my approach was to use quotes from real bullies (written above).  The delivery of these quotes would mean different things for different people, be they bullies, bystanders, targets or adults.  Although I hope that they listen to what is being said, along with the horrific statistics, described above, and acknowledge that bullying behaviour is wrong thus dis-empowering bullies.

I chose a black screen to display the statistics in white, which is very simple and effective.  This choice had to be simple, as the viewer has to concentrate on both what is being said and the information displayed.  My choice of font was, Univers Bold Extended, which I feel is incredibly effective as it’s legibility on screen is excellent.  I had attempted many other choices, which were unacceptable, such as Impact, Futura and Helvetica to name but a few.  None of these fonts displayed the horrific information with such impact, as does Univers.

The end result I feel is a hard-hitting, factual piece, which encases, cause and symptom together, effectively.


Bullying is a huge global problem to which there is no one solution.  The main problem I feel with regard to homophobic bullying is that a lot of changes need to happen within society before we can expect this to filter through to the education system.  The fact that only 6% of schools have a fully inclusive bullying policy, incorporating homophobic bullying and the current curriculum, seems to be a clear disregard for the guidelines established by the government.   It seems that schools not only deny that they have homosexual pupils but that they also deny they have any bullying at all.  There needs to be clear acceptance that homosexual children exist and are acknowledged before schools can move forward and stamp out this form of bullying.

Within British culture there is a need to censor children from sexuality, assuming that they would benefit from this.  Through this action in an attempt to preserve a child’s “innocence” they leave them ignorant to important factors such as disease, abuse and loving relationships as described earlier.  With the removal of this censorship we can hope to eliminate prejudices in the hope of making a more tolerant environment for school children to feel secure and safe.

I can only hope that bullying ceases to exist.



(2005) This Month in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 159, 313-.

COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC, E. (2001) Media Violence. Pediatrics, 108, 1222-1226.

Ayyar, R., George Weinberg: Love is Conspiratorial, Deviant & Magical[online]. (Vol. VIII Issue 167) Available from: (1 of 8)3/1/2006 3:14:45 pm

Browne, Professor Kevin. University of Birmingham. TV ‘could create child bullies’ . 15 June 2006 <>

EPSTEIN, D. D. (2000) Schooling Sexualities. London, Open University Press.

HANCOX, R. J., MILNE, B. J. & POULTON, R. (2005) Association of Television Viewing During Childhood With Poor Educational Achievement. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 159, 614-618.

Moldrich, Chrissan.  ChildLine, Bullying Factsheet Information for teachers and professionals working with young people

NANSEL, T. R. & OVERPECK, M. D. (2003) Operationally Defining “Bullying”–Reply. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 157, 1135-.

OLIVER, C. & CANDAPPA, M. (2003) Tackling Bullying: Listening to the views of children and young people. Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education.

OZMERT, E., TOYRAN, M. & YURDAKOK, K. (2002) Behavioral Correlates of Television Viewing in Primary School Children Evaluated by the Child Behavior Checklist. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 156, 910-914.

Rivers, I. (1998) cited in Mullen, Andy. (2001) Mesmac Inclusive Schools.  Bradford

Rivers, I (2000) “Social exclusion, absenteeism and sexual minority youth” in Support for Learning, 15(1),13-18 NASEN  cited in

Rivers, I. (2001), The bullying of sexual minorities at school: Its nature and long-term correlates, Educational and Child Psychology, 18 (1): 33-46.

SALUJA, G., IACHAN, R., SCHEIDT, P. C., OVERPECK, M. D., SUN, W. & GIEDD, J. N. (2004) Prevalence of and Risk Factors for Depressive Symptoms Among Young Adolescents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 158, 760-765.

SMITH, P. P. Bullying Don’t Suffer in Silence- an anti-bullying pack for schools. Goldsmiths College, University of London.

Townley, Ben. 15 June 2006 <>

Trenchard, L. and Warren, H. (1984) ‘Something To Tell You’ – The Experiences of Young Lesbians and Young Gay Men in London, London: London Gay Teenage Group.

ZIMMERMAN, F. J., GLEW, G. M., CHRISTAKIS, D. A. & KATON, W. (2005) Early Cognitive Stimulation, Emotional Support, and Television Watching as Predictors of Subsequent Bullying Among Grade-School Children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 159, 384-388.


  1. 1
  2. 2 Oliver, C. & Candappa, M. (2003) Tackling Bullying: listening to the views of children and young people, London, DfES.
  3. 3 Channel 4, 3 minute wonder, Bully for you, 1 December 2005 09:25
  4. 4 Moldrich, Chrissan. ChildLine Bullying Factsheet Information for teachers and professionals working with young people.
  5. 5 Moorhead, Joanna. is your child being bullied? 15 June 2006 <>
  6. 615 June 2006 <>
  7. 7 <>
  8. 8 Smith, Professor Peter. Bullying Don’t Suffer in Silence- an anti-bullying pack for schools(Goldsmiths College, University of London).
  9. 9 Bullying Don’t Suffer in Silence – an anti-bullying pack for schools Professor Peter Smith  (Goldsmiths College, University of London).
  10. 10 Katz, Adrienne. Bullying  Symptoms, Strategies and Solutions That Work.  A ChildLine Conference. London,
  11. 11 “antisocial personality disorder n.”  A Dictionary of Psychology. Andrew M. Colman. Oxford University Press, 2001. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  Salford University.  15 June 2006  <>
  12. 12 “oppositional defiant disorder n.”  A Dictionary of Psychology. Andrew M. Colman. Oxford University Press, 2001. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  Salford University. 15 June 2006  <>
  13. 13 The Impact of Interactive Violence on Children. Hearing Before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. 106th Cong, 1st Sess (2000) (statement of Craig Anderson, Professor, Iowa State University, Department of Psychology)
  14. 14 Committee on Public Education AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS 1222 PEDIATRICS Vol. 108 No. 5 November 2001 Media Violence <>
  15. 15 Browne, Professor Kevin. University of Birmingham. TV ‘could create child bullies’ . 15 June 2006 <>
  16. 16 ZIMMERMAN, F. J., GLEW, G. M., CHRISTAKIS, D. A. & KATON, W. (2005) Early Cognitive Stimulation, Emotional Support, and Television Watching as Predictors of Subsequent Bullying Among Grade-School Children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 159, 384-388.
  17. 17 Channel 4, 3 minute wonder, Bully for you, 1 December 2005 09:25
  18. 18Moldrich, Chrissan.  ChildLine, Bullying Factsheet Information for teachers and professionals working with young people
  19. 19 <>20 Ayyar, R., George Weinberg: Love is Conspiratorial, Deviant & Magical[online]. (Vol. VIII Issue 167) Available from: (1 of 8)3/1/2006 3:14:45 pm21 <>
  20. 22 3/18/99Is Homophobia Associated With Homosexual Arousal? by Henry E. Adams, Ph.D., Lester W. Wright, Jr., Ph.D. and Bethany A. Lohr, in Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. 105, No. 3, pp 440-445.
  21. 23 Trenchard, I. and Warren, H. (1984) “Something to tell you.” Cited in Rivers, I (2000) “Social exclusion, absenteeism and sexual minority youth” in Support for Learning, 15(1),13-18 NASEN  cited in
  22. 25 15 June 2006<>
  23. 26 <>
  24. 27 “hegemonic masculinity”  A Dictionary of Sociology. John Scott and Gordon Marshall. Oxford University Press 2005. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  Salford University.  15 June 2006  <>
  25. 28 Epstein, Dr Debbie. Section 28 makes teachers ignore bullying 7 February 2000.  15 June 2006 <>
  26. 29 “conduct disorder n.”  A Dictionary of Psychology. Andrew M. Colman. Oxford University Press, 2001. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  Salford University.  15 June 2006  <>
  27. 30 Jennett, Mark. Stand up for us. Challenging homophobia in schools
  28. 31 15 June 2006<>
  29. 32 Townley, Ben. 15 June 2006<>
  30. 33 Figures for numbers of lesbian or gay young people are based on findings from the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL) of nearly 19,000 people published in 2000. This asked respondents whether they had ‘Ever had a sexual experience with a same sex partner?’ or ‘Ever had sexual intercourse/genital contact with a same sex partner?’ – the percentages quoted here are for young people aged 16-24. Applying these figures to pupils under 16 whose sexual practices are likely to be different is problematic. However, the figure is likely to underestimate the numbers of young people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (or who think they might be) and who have not had same-sex sexual experience. For further information, see a summary of key figures from AVERT, available online at: Accessed 28 May, 2004 Homophobia, Sexual Orientation and Schools: a Review and Implications for Action Ian Warwick, Elaine Chase and Peter Aggleton Thomas Coram Research Unit Institute of Education, University of London with Sue Sanders Schools Out
  31. 34 BULLYING HOW TO BEAT IT A Child Line conference 2003confereport.pdf
  32. 35 Rivers, Ian. (1998) cited in Mullen, Andy. (2001) Mesmac Inclusive Schools.  Bradford
  33. 36 ILGA-Europe, (2000) p.17. <>
  34. 37 Bullying  Symptoms, Strategies and Solutions That Work.  A ChildLine Conference3
  35. 8 Rivers, I. (2001), The bullying of sexual minorities at school: Its nature and long-term correlates, Educational and Child Psychology, 18 (1): 33-46.
  36. 39 Bullying A Child Line conference Symptoms, strategies and solutions that work. bullyingconferencereport2001.pdf
  37. 40Sex and Relationship Education Guidance Head teachers, Teachers & School Governors Status: good practice Date of issue: July 2000 Ref: DfEE 0116/2000 <>
  38. 41 Trenchard, L. and Warren, H. (1984) ‘Something To Tell You’ – The Experiences of Young Lesbians and Young Gay Men in London, London: London Gay Teenage Group.
  39. 42 Bullying Don’t Suffer in Silence- an anti-bullying pack for schools Professor Peter Smith(Goldsmiths College, University of London).
  40. 43 15 June 2006 <>
  41. 44 Rivers, Ian. (1998) cited in Mullen, Andy. (2001) Mesmac Inclusive Schools.  Bradford


Video Art

What is Video Art?

Established in 1965, Video Art, a medium conceived by a Korean artist, namely Nam June Paik, 1 member of the Fluxus2 art movement, uses technology in an exceptionally diverse manner. In that year Sony created the Portapak, the first hand-held video camera. Paik shot his footage of Pope Paul VI’s procession through New York City from a taxi and a couple of hours later showed the first “Video Art” at Café a Go Go in Greenwich Village, hence Video Art was born. During the late 1960’s technical developments made various types of portable video equipment available to artists. Although facilitated by Japanese technology, video art was initially developed primarily by American artists within the era’s politically volatile social context. The commercial availability and portability of the early video camera facilitated the medium’s use by visual artists, including painters, sculptors, and performance artists. During the late 1960s and 1970s, video art was monitor-based and often politically charged to the point that artists formed collectives such as TVTV (Top Value Television), which infiltrated the 1972 Republican convention.

This form has seen phenomenal rise since these continuing advancements. Video Art has developed so rapidly with technological evolvement. Various artists use this mode in creating installations, performance art and videotapes for broadcast. One of the key differences between video art and theatrical cinema is that video art does not rely on many of the conventions that define theatrical cinema. Video art does not necessarily use actors, may not contain dialogue, may have no discernible narrative or plot, or adhere to any of the other comfortable conventions that construct cinema as entertainment. This distinction is important because it delineates video art not only from cinema but also from the sub-categories where those definitions may become muddy (as in the case of avant garde or short films). Perhaps the simplest, most straightforward defining distinction in this respect would then be to say that cinema’s ultimate goal is to entertain (i.e., to get someone to watch the film) whereas video art’s intentions are more varied—be they to simply explore the boundaries of the medium itself (e.g., Peter Campus, “Double Vision”) or to rigorously attack the viewer’s expectations of video as shaped by conventional cinema (e.g., Joan Jonas, “Organic Honey’s Vertical Roll”).

Some of these manners of working are a permanent issue for most artists, as the affiliation between video art and television is unclear.4 The question seems to be how to get video art out to the masses. As the German video artist Egon Bunne stated, “In modern culture, video art still has not gained the rank it deserves. Though video installations are welcome visual points of contemporary exhibitions, enriching and revaluating them upwards, video art itself is still burdened with prejudices and exposed to suspicious looks, if at all looked at.” This goes also and to a high degree for the television. Both public and private television and networks find that “video art is too extra-ordinary to find a fixed place in the program” -with a few and irregular exceptions, “but they are soon dismissed because of low numbers of viewers”.5

My preferred topic of discussion is the work of video art pioneer, Bill Viola and the sequences, Emergence and The Greeting.

Bill Viola was born January 25, 1951 in New York City. He grew up in Queens and Westbury and attended the P.S 20. Later he studied at the College of Visual and Performing Arts at the prestigious Syracuse University where he took part in an experimental program dedicated to exploring the possibilities of film making in a fine art context, graduating with a B.F.A. in 1973. During the period 1973 to 1979, Viola acquired the position as an exhibition assistant and video technician at the Syracuse’s Everson Museum, to the aforementioned Nam June Paik, Frank Gillette, a founding member of the video collective Raindance, 1969 and Peter Campus, a video artist established in 1971, on various projects. At some point in the 1970s Viola lived for 18 months in Florence, Italy, as technical director of production in one of the first video art studios in Europe, and then traveled widely to study and record traditional performing arts in the Solomon Islands, Java, Bali, and Japan. In 198081, he lived in Japan with his wife Kira Perov on a Japan/U.S. Cultural Exchange Fellowship, where he studied Buddhism with Zen Master Daien Tanaka and was artist-in-residence at Sony Corporation’s Atsugi research laboratories.7 In 1984 he was an artist-in-residence at the San Diego Zoo in California for a project on animal consciousness. Bill Viola is widely recognized as one of the leading video artists on the international scene. His work has spanned over three decades since his first original piece, Wild Horses, created in 1972. Prior, Viola was a founding member of the Synapse video group. This was a student society, which set up and administered a cable television system in 1971.8For over 30 years he has created videotapes, architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performances, and works for television broadcast.9 Viola’s sensual video installations—total environments, envelop the viewer through use of image and sound, employing state-of-the-art technology which are distinguished by their precision and direct simplicity. His single channel videotapes have been broadcast and presented cinematically around the world, while his writings have been published and anthologized for international readers.10

Inspirations Whilst studying Viola researched philosophical ideas, exploring Christian mysticism, Islamic Sufism and Zen Buddhism, focusing on universal human experiences—birth, death, the unfolding of consciousness.11 This continuing journey of sense perception, self-knowledge was to become the backbone of his work, using video to explore these phenomena. He has been influential in the establishment of video as a vital form of modern art, and in so doing has helped to expand its scope in terms of knowledge, content, and historical reach.

Collectors Collectors of Viola’s work include Agnes and Karlheinz Essl,12 The Silent Sea (2002) Plasma screen DVD (10:07), 71 x 41 x 6 cm, Pamela and Richard Kramlich, exuberant members of the Silicon Valley elite, who have used their fortune to create one of the world’s leading private collections of media art, a catchall term for work incorporating moving images, sound, and a variety of high and low tech presentations, The Crossing, 1996 Video/sound installation13and one of Australia’s most powerful businesswomen, owner of the Sussan Corporation, Naomi Milgrom who has an installation of Viola’s work on a plasma screen.14

Viola’s videotapes and installations have been shown widely throughout the world, in major group exhibitions at festivals and institutions including Kolnischer Kunstverein, Cologne; Documenta VI, Kassel, Germany; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; and the Venice Biennale. He has also had one-person shows at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; ARC/Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, among other institutions. Bill Viola was chosen to represent the United States at the 46th Venice Biennale, which is the oldest and most renowned international contemporary arts festival. Five video and sound installations were created specifically by Viola for the Bienniale’s United States Pavillion. He was the subject of a major retrospective at the Whitney Museum of Amerian Art in 1998.15 The Messenger (1996) was commissioned by the Church of England, Chaplaincy to the Arts and Recreation for the 900-year-old Durham Cathedral in Northern England.


The Greeting

Inspired by the sixteenth century mannerist, Jacopo da Pontormo’s, painting, The Visitation, dating from 1528-1529, Church of San Michele at Carmignano. The scene depicts the meeting between the pregnant Virgin Mary and Elizabeth who was also pregnant with John the Baptist. The true inspiration for this piece of art is the following passage from the Gospel according to Luke 1:39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; 40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. 41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed [art] thou among women, and blessed [is] the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence [is] this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed [is] she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. 46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy [is] his name. 50 And his mercy [is] on them that fear him from generation to generation. 51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He hath put down the mighty from [their] seats, and exalted them of low degree. 53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. 54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of [his] mercy; 55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. 56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house. Viola says, “This is the beginning of the project. The first part of the creative process for me is in the form of writing, with a few pictures here and there, but it’s actually words describing situations or it could be quotes from different things I’ve been reading. The Greeting was triggered directly by an encounter with a classical artist by the name of Pontormo who created a painting called The Visitation. It’s a classical theme of when Mary comes to visit her sister Elizabeth when she finds out she’s pregnant. I began to think about particularly the social aspect of the work, as opposed to the religious theme in the work, and that is the sort of greeting where two people are coming together. And then I began thinking in my own life, about meeting people. I began to think about people I’ve seen greeting. You’re at an airport. You know, those moments when you’re in an airport and you turn around and there’s two people who obviously haven’t seen each other in a while and there’s that magic of, just happens every moment in every airport in the world, people are getting on and off planes, and there’s that kind of poignancy of the good-byes, and the poignancies of the greetings happening all the time around us. I distilled from the three figures out of the painting these kind of three generic figures here, and I just literally with tracing paper began to place them in this kind of

hypothetical space. This touching point between people became the real focal point of that magic moment which all paintings suggest but can never actually reproduce because they can’t create time. They can’t embody time.” 16

Viola, through the use of video technology has effectively embodied time and brought life not only to the masterpiece but revived this biblical tale. The sequence takes place within an urban setting. The backdrop shows a collection of buildings with varying degrees of perspective disorientating the viewer. Within the back alley we see a dimly lit passage where two characters interact. Their business is unexplained and their apparent being there leaves a feeling of unease, questioning the safety of the two females. In the foreground we initially see the interaction and silent conversation between two mature females. Their dress is clearly modern-day although emulating Pontormo’s painting encapsulating the flowing fabrics portrayed in the scene. The female facing the camera head on wearing a clearly contemporary outfit together with black leather shoulder bag and court shoes has a solemn look about her. Her attempts to engage with the Elizabeth figure in a tactile manner seem in vain as any approach of contact is declined by Elizabeth, clearly making this character feel uncomfortable. We see the agitation of this character through the subconscious hand gestures that clearly show the discomfort felt. The Elizabeth figure seen here does not appear to be with child. As the story goes Elizabeth should be approximately six months pregnant and entering her third trimester17 . The flowing clothes are possibly hiding her position although we are unable to tell.

The wind, clearly symbolising the Holy Spirit, increases in its velocity and with this disturbance the two characters are interrupted by a third, being that of the Virgin Mary. The Mary character wears a bright orange dress combined with a shoulder bag of which we are ignorant to its contents. Surprisingly Viola has replaced the muted blue colour of her attire in the Visitation, with which we would normally identify Mary, with the contemporary bright orange dress. Here we can see that Mary is heavily pregnant, more obviously than that of Elizabeth. Mary at this point would be around three months pregnant18 . With this entrance we see the dynamic shift between the characters and how the solemn character in muted blue has evidently been left out of the greeting. She clearly does not know the new addition to the conversation and seemingly been outcast. Here Viola has created an awkward situation by replacing the original tableaux of four females with that of three, creating the age-old adage “two’s company and three’s a crowd”. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, depicted by the wind blowing through her clothes, greets Mary with open arms and we see the joyous expression on both their faces and experience the silent communication of their knowing each other’s predicament. The Mary character saying, “Can you help me”, breaks this silence?19 It is with this  question that Mary is seeking guidance from Elizabeth with regards to the experiences of being pregnant.20 Although we are inconclusive of whether the Elizabeth character can offer this advice, as it is unclear that she is with child even though the initial biblical passage confirms this we know that Viola’s intention was not to reenact the biblical story or restage Pontormo’s classical image. This entrance combined with the rude whispering increasingly adds to the third characters anxiety and feeling of unpleasantness. We see between the main characters and witness the expression of the character in blue’s sheer paranoia and worry from the exclusion. This thought provoking sequence helps the viewer to


relate on varying degrees the effects of all parties involved. Although the Mary character is not talking about the lady in blue, one can have compassion for the excluded character and with this realisation, take this on board and avoid the future implementation of these actions and performing in this way. Through the communication of this piece of video art one can contemplate their communicative abilities within society, questioning their own social skills. Mary steps back from Elizabeth and surprisingly Elizabeth then places her hand on the lady in blue’s back and brings her into the conversation.

She then introduces Mary to whom the focus shifts. They exchange pleasantries and the character in blue offers Mary her right hand to shake. Mary declines

stroking her pregnant bump. We see again the discomfort felt by the character who’s friendly approach has been refused. This is depicted again by the agitation of her hands and her clasping of her arm and fidgeting with her bag, not knowing what to do about the situation. Her body language suggests her insecurity and the not knowing of how to behave in this situation. Should she stay where she is not wanted? It is surprising that Viola portrays the Blessed Virgin Mary in this light. Is one to believe that Mary, the mother of our Lord was quite ignorant and she was above interaction, or should we surmise that Mary felt awkward being introduced to an already established conversation, not knowing the discomfort the lady in blue was already feeling? We can only speculate, as the outcome is unclear. The scene is ambiguous and purposely confuses the viewer. The main characters within the scene both wear sandals reminiscent of biblical times where as the third character wears more modern shoes with a heel. This difference in the footwear also seems to separate her from the protagonists, making her look even more out of place than she obviously feels. Through Viola’s thoughts of his own life, greetings he has experienced and of others he has witnessed, he has created a basis for bringing Pontormo’s masterpiece to life. Imagining the joy that Mary and Elizabeth experienced and the awkwardness of the third character with which most all of us can identify draws the audience further in to the sequence. One, feeling all the emotion evoked by the piece, and the great sentiment of affinity with this identification. Viola in effect is trying to educate society, creating an awareness of intrinsic social patterns. As each social greeting requires an awareness of all parties involved




Visual Analysis

Viola says that ‘Emergence’ began with a passing idea for a piece called ‘Woman Supporting Slumping Man’. Later, leafing through a book on the early Renaissance Italian

artists Masaccio and Masolino, he came upon a colour plate of Masolino’s fresco showing the corpse of the dead Christ in his tomb, supported by his mother Mary and John the Evangelist. 21 ‘I sketched it and put it away, ‘ he says. ‘I’m not interested in restaging historical paintings. ‘ Still later, an image occurred to him of two women pulling a dead man out of a well, and he looked back to Masolino’s composition. But since he wanted to embody the idea of birth, he began to imagine that as the body came out of the well, an unexplained surge of water would accompany it. 22 Emergence, shot on 35mm film and done in slow motion, colour high-definition video, rear projected on a screen which is mounted on a wall in dark room, 78’ by 78’23 is a piece inspired by the fresco painting of the Pietà, held at the Museo della Collegiata di Sant’ Andrea, Empoli, Italy, by the fifteenth century Italian artist Tomaso di Cristofano, also known as Masolino. This representation of Christ half-length in the sarcophagus, being supported either side by his mother and Saint John the Evangelist, suggests the biblical miracle of the Resurrection.24 Although Viola understands this to be the Deposition, this interpretation gives Emergence a base for its vagueness and ambiguity leaving the viewer open to arrive at his or her own decision. While Viola has no apparent desire to recreate or mimic classical paintings it seems the similarities between fifteenth-century Italian artist Masolino’s,

Pietá and Viola’s setting are uncanny. The positions of the actors within the Emergence scene seem to ‘reflect’ the Pietá, mirroring the position of the characters within a more contemporary setting.


Whilst researching the inspiration for Emergence I found that 25Violas picture of the Pietá is

flipped in comparison to the image I have retrieved. In effect Viola has not mirrored the image but seemingly reproduced the position of the characters according to his version. This is difficult however, to determine which is correct without seeing the actual source. The confusion seems to continue as within the book Bill Viola: The Passions26, the image is the same as the one I found not like the one seen within Viola’s note book in the film Excerpt from Bill Viola and Emergence by award-winning filmmaker Mark


Kidel. 27 Continuing the research into this anomaly, contact was made with The National Gallery, London, with hope that they could clarify the position of the characters. Chris Morton, Information Officer for the gallery states that, ‘The original painting features the Virgin to the viewers left as reflects her importance’. This importance is that the “right hand” is the place of honor28 (1Kng.2:19; Matt.20:21-23; cf. Matt.25:33-34; 26:64) With this feature now made clear it seems that Viola’s replication of the Pietá’s character positions are true to its source, although the Virgin Mary figure is that of an older woman, a young woman has replaced the Saint John the Evangelist figure. Even though the backdrop of Emergence is seemingly similar to that of the Pietá, and does evoke the feeling of a fifteenth century fresco it however would seem more at home within the confines of a shopping centre, baby portrait stall, with a sheepskin rug in the foreground.

Viola says. ‘What I saw in my mind was this man rising up out of the water, young man, and as he’s rising out the water overflowing over the top of this cistern, well or whatever and he comes out and there’s two women either side of him who are shocked and surprised and emotionally overcome with the appearance of this young man. So if I look at this from the point of view of our contemporary eye it’s the aftermath of a drowning its two women pulling a limp lifeless figure out of water if I look at it from the inner, with the inner eye what I see is a birth of water overflowing and a young man who’s practically naked being taken out by women almost in the function of midwives of bringing a being into the world so and I don’t want to specify that image and lock it in for me images have their life because their un-tethered and free flowing and that’s what I want them to be so I’ve probably said too much already29.’

With this quote in mind, the symbolic reference of

the two women seems to represent the Blessed

Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene as read in The

Holman Christian Standard Bible Mathew 27:61

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were seated

there, facing the tomb. While the two women are not facing the ‘tomb’ this beginning sequence does reflect the biblical reference as either side of the focal point, be it a wellhead, altar, column, tomb or monument, shown here in still frame 1 sits the two women. Each woman is looking in the opposite direction of the other. There seems to be no real relationship between them, implying distance. The wellhead is the only thing connecting them yet separating them at the same time. The divide that this causes emulates the possible relationship of wife and mother in law. The individual grief they seem to be suffering is representative of their connected loss of a loved one and their inability to console one another.

This distance is interrupted by the rising of a pale, meagre, naked man from the wellhead along with the unexpected gush of overflowing water, shown in still two. This symbolism emulates the breaking of a woman’s waters prior to the birth, corroborating Viola’s reference to midwifery and their participation within the labour of childbirth. The younger character is first to respond to the male’s presence, just as Mary Magdalene was the first to witness the Resurrection. She tentatively touches the wellhead whilst the young man begins his ascent. The older female has not yet received his presence although her attention has been drawn more to the opposite side to which she was looking previous. There is still no connection between the female characters and though the Christ like figure emerging from the well has the full attention of the younger female he does not acknowledge her. The young man’s eyes are closed constantly during the sequence as if he sees all without their use. One is lead to believe his focus is beyond the set and the viewer cannot participate visually with the man so the vagueness continues as the audience are left to make up their own minds regarding what the figure sees with his ‘inner eye’. This lack of clothing suggests his vulnerability, whilst the whiteness of his skin evokes not only the texture of a drowned corpse but also the purity of innocence and ignorance as with a newborn child. The younger female is the first to attend the young male while the mother figure seems to have an expression of disbelief. Each woman shows a different reaction to the man emerging from the ‘well’.

The young male pays no attention to either female while he rises. As seen in still three, this image seems to emulate the real inspiration for the whole sequence. Here we see a more intimate nature of involvement between the younger female and the emerged male. Although Viola, declaring earlier has no desire to recreate historic images, this part of the sequence quite clearly interprets the Pietá. The biblical references are somewhat clear that this is more than just a birth or a drowning. What intrigues me more is, does Viola’s research into Christian mysticism infer that Jesus and Saint John’s association was intimate? The character substitution of Mary by an older female signifying the mother figure and that of Saint John by a younger female whose individual behaviour within the scene seems of an intimate, sexual nature provokes thoughts of the possibilities of a homosexual relationship between Jesus and Saint John. It is said in the bible that John was the man that Jesus loved The Holman Christian Standard Bible John 20:2 and is thought that John was abeautiful effeminate man. One wonders that the replacement of the male figure that kisses Christ in an adoring, loving way has been replaced as not to alienate ‘people’ from the piece of work as we live within a heterosexist society. The Holman Christian Standard Bible Mark 1:9 Saint John the Baptist was the cousin of Jesus, who baptised him into the faith. The unexpected gush of water could also represent this event where Christ emerges from the sea. The bible also claims that all life comes from water. Genesis: 1-31 which confirms Viola’s idea for birth from the gush of water as described earlier with the reference of waters breaking. There is the possibility that this character re-representation of Saint John could be Mary Magdalene with whom Jesus was possibly intimate. Channel Four The Real Da Vinci Code 5 February. Mary Magdalene is regarded as the wife of the historic Jesus who, as the Koran says, did not die on the cross and who came to France to live out His life with Mary and His children by Mary.30

Keeping the video art within a ‘normal setting’ makes the scene more acceptable within society. As who is to say that a male cannot deliver a child, referring to Viola’s reference of midwifery? In a contemporary setting of the twenty first century shouldn’t a man be shown as a bringer of life? Seeing that man plays a significant role in creating it. The Christ like figure’s focus is toward the heavens, as if he is ‘looking’ at God until his frail body cannot support him anymore. He collapses into the arms of the older woman whilst the younger

supports his legs as seen in still four. Here the females have joined forces collaborating in the aid of this apparent feeble man, although their centre of attention is only on the male, they knowingly cooperate while still ignoring each other. This limp lifeless body, which seems dead, although in Viola’s inner eye has just been born, evokes the feeling of a stillbirth. The ambiguity continues and the thought provoking sequence continues.

They remove the Christ like figure from the sepulchre and place him on the ground. Whilst doing this we see the male is not dead as he attempts to support himself by the use of his leg. This detracts from the supposed helplessness of the man and in my opinion also from the art. This is only shown within rehearsal as seen on the Bill Viola and Emergence video and the final sequence shown has had this part edited out so I am unaware whether the young male actually places his foot on the ground.

The older female pays no attention to the male’s indecency or natural state. The young female immediately covers the male as if to shield him from prying eyes, covering his modesty, seen here in still five. This sequence is reminiscent of when the shroud was placed over Jesus in the tomb. Although the Christ like figure is obviously not dead as the younger female only covers half his body, not all of it as one would do with a corpse, clarifying Viola’s ambiguity within this sequence, questioning again whether this is the Deposition or the Resurrection. This part of the sequence evokes the Lamentation. Amazingly the shroud is perfectly dry as it is strategically produced from a leather bag from the side of the wellhead.

Still frame six sees the mother figure gazing at her ‘child’ lovingly, nursing him whilst his head rests on her lap.

Her stroking of his head emulates the motion of a mother nursing her baby. This behaviour is joined by the somewhat sexual nature of the young female who seductively leans over the marble like figure with a longing expression. Her fixed gaze seems unreciprocated as the male is transfixed by the mother figure, although he mimics the caress of the older female by stroking the younger females head. The two women are still distant and no interaction has happened between them other than their cooperation whilst they lifted the man from the well. This separation is multiplied by the obvious difference in their roles. The positions of the characters are on different levels creating an equilateral triangle with the position of their heads indicating the holy trinity. The mother figure elevated above the others symbolising her importance of bringing the male into the world. Although the male is lower than the younger female, his importance is reflected by both females transfixed stares and the fact that she is slightly higher than him her position above his torso makes her appearance seem lower, as if she is insignificant to the family. This insignificance sees the young female take on the role of a handmaiden epitomising again the possible sexual relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. ‘And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.’ Acts 2:1831And the companion of [the Savior is] Mary Magdalene. The [Savior] loved her more than all his disciples, and frequently kissed her on the mouth. The rest of [the disciples] [got close to her to ask]. They told him: “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Savior responded and

said: “Why do I not love you as I love her?” (Gospel of Philip 63-64). During this whole sequence of incredible video art, one not only recognizes Viola’s initial idea of combining a literal drowning with a lateral birth but also seemingly has experienced some of the most profound moments within Jesus’ life. It is obvious that Viola’s research into Christian mysticism and Islamic Sufism has had a dramatic impact on his work and the fact that even with all the biblical references has given this piece of work a great contemporary feel without imposing his own beliefs.


Although Viola is adamant that he is not interested in restaging and recreating works of art, thou dost protest too much, as the comparisons between them are uncanny. His video art sequences described earlier are clear representations of the poignant masterpieces in which the characters can be clearly identified. In effect he is creating digital paintings, bringing the works of art to life and capturing through the use of time the emotion and feeling evoked in the originals. This seems as if he is filling in the gaps, dictating what happens before and after the actual inspiration. However with the original paintings, you can explore the hidden meanings and emotions, on a more personal intimate level. This is not to say Viola’s work is not powerful, and thought provoking, it stimulated this dissertation. His technical ability, casting of characters, creation of stage sets, beautiful colour and composition is amazing, although I cannot help but think that this recreation of old masters approach seems slightly indolent and clearly not his original idea. Viola does however; through his contemporary, poetic license relate his chosen classic themes to modern day life, effectively helping the viewer to identify the subject matter with great reflection. This method of restoration does have its positive side. It has made the video art medium a more accessible genre, as appreciators of classic art, who would not necessarily recognize the value of this art form, may find themselves with a feeling of great affinity. On the other hand it seems Viola has stopped pushing boundaries unlike technology and settled for an easy life.


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 5 Egon Bunne: “Videokunst zwichen Warenhaus und Television/Video Art Between Department Store and Television”, Catalogue of European Media Art Festival 1993, Osnabrück 1993, p. 307ff cited in (5 of 6)14/11/2004 8:02:23 pm

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22 Excerpt from Bill Viola and Emergence by award-winning filmmaker Mark Kidel

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25 Excerpt from Bill Viola and Emergence by award-winning filmmaker Mark Kidel

26 Walsh, John (ed.) (2003). Bill Viola: The Passions. Los Angeles: Getty Publications ISBN 0-89236

27 Excerpt from Bill Viola and Emergence by award-winning filmmaker Mark Kidel

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29 Excerpt from Bill Viola and Emergence by award-winning filmmaker Mark Kidel


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