Intervention Study

Can instructional video develop autonomy in disaffected pupils?


School X is a larger than average mixed comprehensive school for 1,402 students aged 11-18 of whom 309 are in the sixth form. The school is located approximately 1 mile outside the city centre. The area is recognised as having significant socio-economic deprivation with many students eligible for free school meals. Nearly all the students are from minority ethnic backgrounds and the majority speak English as an additional language. The students’ attainment on entry to the school is well below average and a higher than average numbers of students have learning difficulties and/or disabilities.  In September 2006 it acquired specialist college status for mathematics and computing, receiving Outstanding from OFSTED in 2007, em-blazing the slogan, “Achievement for all.”

With adequate resources and sponsored by Microsoft, the ICT department is staffed by seven specialist ICT teachers, the head of department / Key Stage 4 coordinator, Key Stage 5 coordinator, Key Stage 3 coordinator, the head of year ten and 3 NQTs.  Alongside these members are four full time technicians and a VLE administrator who is currently developing the Learning Gateway using Microsoft Sharepoint, although the Learning Kit has not yet been utilised.

The group of learners, 10ZIT1, a year 10 mixed group who have not opted to take ICT and therefore have only one hour a week, comprises of equal amounts of achievers and socially dysfunctional, disaffected pupils.  Behaviour is challenging within the classroom and the pupils’ use of ICT leads them only to games.  Classroom management is an issue, although the lack of a whole school behaviour policy could account for the entrenched inappropriate conduct across the school.  The school delivers OCR Nationals Level 2 ICT from year 9 onwards, whilst the class should have completed the mandatory Unit 1 during that year, the last four months have been spent trying to complete it, unsuccessfully.   The decision has been made to move onto Unit 20: Creating animation, a creative unit that will hopefully reengage the pupils into education and learning through creative thought.  As the disaffection has been ongoing, the pupils’ listening and speaking skills are somewhat underdeveloped; an area that needs to be targeted during the remainder of their schooling, their responsibility and sense of achievement also needs nurturing through which the instructor believes they could accomplish independently.  Their lack of concentration on instructor led demonstrations causes disruption, from which the whole class suffers.


The aim of the intervention is to develop a series of instructional videos that will teach the pupils how to use Flash to create an animated sequence.  As the pupils will be in control of the delivery of the video, they can work at their own pace and refer to the resources when needed whilst creating their project.  This feature of multi tasking will need to be taught initially although the instructor believes it will have great rewards, for both pupil development, autonomy and classroom management.


As this paper aims to uncover whether instructional video can improve autonomy in disaffected pupils it is essential to determine what is meant by the term autonomy.

Autonomy in schools is crucial to educational effectiveness.  Autonomy empowers individuals within the system to teach to the changing needs of the students and the community (Sergiovanni and Moore, 1985 cited in Dondero, 1997).

Freeman and Lewis (2000. 151) argue whether “autonomy includes the broader ability to control one’s destiny“.  This theory of self-determination involves not only the control of ones destiny but also self-governance an area that involves conforming to the expected social norms of behaviour.  Maclean (2005) describes autonomy as “acting in your interests while staying affiliated with the values of the organisation”.  However, the relationships between pupil and teacher within the classroom are built upon a constant power struggle whereby disaffection occurs as pupils engage in the natural form of resistance as part of their subculture.  This resistance could be interpreted as individual autonomy as they are being their own person and as Christman (2003) states “not the product of manipulative or distorting external forces”.   Conversely this behaviour is somewhat regarded as deviant owing to the underdeveloped communication skills which have a tendency to be confrontational, as foundation relationships at home are generally poor, especially in areas of low socio economic depravation leading to greater detachment and disaffection to the society they are required to become a part of.

The learning environment then again is a major contributing factor to the development of pupil autonomy.  The initial steps towards an autonomous classroom requires that the existing power struggle, dissipate, creating a climate where mutual power exists between both pupil and teacher to an appropriate degree.  Clear boundaries should be set although pupils must be given the opportunity to challenge these in a respectful way developing communication skills whereby the greater understanding of negotiating takes place, becoming a part of the decision making process.  As purposeful relationships develop within the supportive classroom, communication between both pupil and teacher should be as an equal, whereby mutual respect exists removing aggressive behaviour and disaffection.   In the same way as autonomy and self-determination develop so should independent thought and pupils should be encouraged to question confidently whilst taking their own initiative and personal responsibility for their actions and learning.  Dondero cites Meyers (1986) who “suggests that autonomous behaviour occurs in degrees (i.e. given certain situations, people will act more or less autonomously). To have the ability to act autonomously does not guarantee that the behaviour will occur; individuals will only act autonomously if the situation is appropriate to them”.  To ensure the success of the autonomous classroom, an educators approach must be from the pupils’ view to engage their interests passionately.


“It is notoriously difficult to ‘measure impact’ in any educational innovation, whether it be a teaching method, a new teaching approach, a new curriculum scheme or indeed an intervention of any kind”. (Wellington and Cole, 2004, 101)

Research methods

To ensure development as a practitioner within the teaching profession it is essential to reflect on ones practice.  It is from this that the stakeholders, namely the students will be able to progress and attain from the cyclical reflection of the instructor.  This will in turn influence and improve teaching and learning.

McKernan states “Action research as a teacher-researcher movement, is at once an ideology which instructs us that practitioners can be producers as well as consumers of the curriculum inquiry;(…)”. McKernan continues to describe “action research has attempted to render the problematic social world understandable as well as to improve the quality of life in social settings”.

As a method of action research the instructor will use the Kolb model of experiential learning, a model that progresses over four stages which Kolb and Fry (1975, cited in Smith, 2001) argue that the learning cycle can begin at any one of the four modes but suggest that the optimal learning process begins at stage 1, ‘Concrete Experience’.  Here the learner observes a response from the immediate action or concrete experience.  It is from this then that the learner is able to reflect and progress onto stage two, ‘Observation and Reflection’.  Understanding the circumstances of the concrete experience the learner can anticipate the possible impact of a similar situation or action.  With this information the learner can then progress to step three, ‘Forming Abstract Concepts’, synthesising the experience “from which new implications for action can be drawn” (Boyatzis, Kolb & Mainemelis, 2006, p.3).  This then leads to the final stage of the model, step four, ‘Testing in new situations’ where application of the reflective concepts based on experience can be tested and new experiences drawn continuing the cycle.

Concrete Experience

The current educational climate within the classroom is not pleasant.  The battle between pupil and instructor is constant which has a detrimental effect on teaching and learning.  As the instructor attempts to engage pupils through modelling using the whiteboard from the front of the class, the reception of the students is unapparent considering behaviour and response.  The pupils were observed and the instructor made generic notes from lessons.  Using this as a baseline for “ordinary”, chalk and talk teaching it is necessary to reflect on this.

Observation and Reflection

From the results of the observations (see appendixes) it became apparent that these pupils were disengaged with ICT.  As the results show the majority of pupils were distracted and more preoccupied with their social status.

Emotional intelligence (Petrides et al, 2004) is seriously below average.  This is not only reflected by the pupils’ attainment on entry but the minimal progression throughout the year, which in turn influences the lack of control within the classroom (Vidal Rodeiro et al, 2009).  Combined with the inability to connect / apply, skills learned / taught to possible ideas, results in dependant pupils who appear to lack any drive or passion for anything other than their current social standing within their insular community.

There is no real desire to learn or in fact engage with ICT creatively, which hinders development and attainment.  They have no pride in their work based on the previously submitted assessments.

Discussing the state of the learning environment the instructor found the pupils did not enjoy sitting at the front watching the teacher modelling but preferred to log straight onto the computers and ‘get on’ with their work.  This indicated that the pupils could be receptive to autonomous learning.

Forming Abstract Concepts

Considering the pupils voice it seemed valid to diffuse the power struggle and the adult in the room should meet the pupils’ demands in order to move the learning environment forward.  Pupils in year 10 should be moving more and more toward independent thought with the ability to make decisions and face the consequences of their actions.

Testing in new situations

Establishing the classroom as an environment to achieve autonomous learning, the power struggle that existed during the initial stages was slowly dissipated to help build relationships.  Listening to the pupils’ voice, class members were not required to sit at the front and watch the teacher modelling, an area that caused the most disruption.  They were however required to come in, settle down, log on and open their animation and supporting document to evidence their work.  Clear boundaries had been set with regards to playing games, alongside, an agreement was set in place whereby pupils could have free time if they had made sufficient progress during the lesson.  This approach diminished the aggressive behaviour creating a more pleasant work environment improving “the quality of life in social settings”.  In spite of this the issue of mutual respect is still one of the main disrupting factors within the class is most pupils’ attitude towards homosexuality.  Defying the socially accepted norms within their society and to some degree that within dominant culture the instructor’s homosexual presence could be interpreted as a catalyst for non-conformist behaviour, spurring the pupils to partake in their rebellious subcultural norms.  On the other hand this could also represent the pupils’ lack of respect within the classroom (Rofes, 2000; Iftikhar, 2009; Teachers TV, 2008).  Speculating around these key issues does not necessarily resolve them and requires further research into Muslim pupils’ opinions of gay teachers.  Nevertheless from observation their behaviour is somewhat more deviant compared to that in a class where a ‘respected’ or ‘feared’ teacher is host, drawing a series of conclusions that is not necessarily debated.

Tapping in to their interests, quality visuals of aspiring material goods (Bentley, Clinique, Porsche) were delivered to engage the pupils and inspire them (Meyers, ibid).  These images were composited together to create animated sequences, which received an enthusiastic response, usually “Sir that’s sick man” (Sick meaning: great; COOL, AWESOME according to The Online Slang Dictionary).  The assets were distributed amongst the class, ensuring there was sufficient choice for them to make decisions of what they would create.

The final inspirational solutions were not only played full screen on the whiteboard but also accessible from the Learning Gateway.  Alongside these a series of quality instructional video resources were created to inspire pupils giving step-by-step instructions to help them create the final product.  Initially sceptical about dictating the final outcome, the drive to approach the topic in such a way was founded on the lack of vision pupils have, combined with experience of INSETs previously taken with staff who also had difficulty in realising the potential of basic instructional videos which taught you how to bounce a ball.   It was felt necessary to show what you could achieve with three very different pictures using very simple techniques.

Pupils were directed to the instructional videos and encouraged to work independently.  This new process of learning was alien to them, requiring self-control and motivation.  Only three pupils from the class accessed the material to help with their animation.  These pupils were constantly encouraged and reminded to access the resources however one respondent voiced, “They take too long”.  The realisation that they are in control of their learning was not apparent, causing disengagement with the material.  However the three pupils that did engage initially with the instructional resources were proactive using the software although they had no realisation of what and how they had achieved it.


The antisocial, deviant behaviour was minimised over the first few weeks as relationships began to form however this deteriorated as the instructor had four consecutive weeks away from the group.  The positive environment built up again quite quickly with more class involvement as pupils were given the opportunity to demonstrate the learning objectives.

This helped to establish what had been learnt previously and as the group are quite social they were attentive to the modelling.  This allowed the instructor to combine pupil / teacher led demonstrations alongside the instructional videos more easily as talking during demonstration diminished.  Pupils were following instructions more readily, which made teaching and learning more effective.

Talking throughout work time did not diminish and stayed constant although the work ethic improved radically.  The talking may reduce as the unit progresses and they become more competent in Flash.

Playing games was still an issue with some pupils, although not near the amount at the beginning of the intervention as the free time agreement was effective.

Working on other assignments became a concern towards the end of the observations, as pupils were more conscious of current exams or coursework deadlines.  For non-option ICT groups such as this, the application of ICT makes more sense when applying it to something they are interested in, hence an opted subject.  Most pupils were enthusiastic towards the end, creatively engaged and on task although pride in their work was not equivalent.  Some pupils were not saving their work properly and having to start again.  Un-fazed by this there still seemed to be a lack of pride and engagement even though they were still on task.

Using instructional video was not apparent at all toward the end and had reached its peak a few weeks into the observation with a total of three pupils, which deems the technological intervention a failure.  However the classroom routines that were put into action did improve teaching and learning on some level.

Conclusion and recommendations

Learning from instructional video is a skill requiring continuous reinforcement.  Understanding the resources can be paused, rewound and fast-forwarded the same way when listening to music or watching a film is crucial.  Pupils should watch, then attempt, see if it works, if not go back to the resource and watch again or if successful move on.  This level of learning requires determination and self-control from which the pupils should feel empowerment realising they are acting in their best interests as well as those of the school resulting in autonomy.   This skill is possibly too advanced for a group of disaffected pupils and would require a longer period to teach self-control after positive relationships have been built.

As this action research project aimed to develop this level of learning, the data however is flawed and no real successes can be determined as the group dynamics were continuously changing.  This was due to a series of factors, namely disorganisation and reorganisation of pupils’ timetables, which caused a serious amount of disruption within an already disaffected class.  Over the weeks the observations took place several new pupils were added, taken away and some who seemed to be generally in the wrong classroom.

The technological intervention did not work as planned, however the routines put into place from the initial observations and reflection where the pupils’ voice was considered did begin to diminish disruptive behaviour.  Autonomy was not achieved, as finding things out for themselves was not an incentive, since they could not recognise the personal gain.  More frequently “Sir I need help” or “Sir you haven’t helped me” continued to be common phrases shouted out which suggests that most did want to engage with the software however they still required one to one support to ensure total engagement otherwise they would become disruptive and regress into the social mode they are accustomed to.

The scenarios reached some of the pupils’ current social awareness connecting them to the work, and one pupil adapted the brief to suit his personal interest of boxing.  Equally more discussion is needed to clearly identify the interests of disaffected youths to ensure that the topic is relevant to them and actively reengage them in the classroom.

To raise achievement and attainment within this area of compulsory none option ICT, more ‘social’ group work would make the subject accessible to improve not only their grades but also their Emotional Intelligence through the development of socialisation.  Autonomy is only the beginning of the journey in which the outcome should be to work towards a unanimous group goal and fit in with the social confines we are all subject to.  Collaborative group work could be the key for pupils to understand their own personal strengths and identify weaknesses to aid personal development.  Unit 23: Creating Video would be a more fitting area to bring together a variety of skills and personal qualities as it could be successfully divided into vocational hands on areas such as director, actor and editor.  This combination would allow individuality and independence to flourish.

References and Further Reading

The Online Slang Dictionary | Definition of sick. Available at: [Accessed March 25, 2009].

Ali, Majid (2008) Perceptions of learning difficulties: a study examining the views of Pakistani and white children with learning difficulties, their parents, peers and school staff. EdD thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Christman, J. (2003) Autonomy in Moral and Political Philosophy. Autonomy in Moral and Political Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Available at: [Accessed March 31, 2009].

Dondero, G.M. (1997) Organizational climate and teacher autonomy: implications for educational reform. International Journal of Educational Management, 11 (5). Available at: [Accessed March 31, 2009].

Fie, M. E-Learning pedagogy: TSOI© Model. Available at: [Accessed April 1, 2009].

Frederickson, N. & Petrides, K. (2008) Ethnic, gender, and socio-economic group differences in academic performance and secondary school selection: A longitudinal analysis. Learning and Individual Differences, 18 (2), pp.144-151. Available at:

Freeman, M.D.A. & Lewis, A.D.E. (2000) Law and Medicine: Current Legal Issues , New York: Oxford University Press. Available at: [Accessed March 31, 2009].

Freitas, S.D. & Neumann, T. (2009) The use of [`]exploratory learning’ for supporting immersive learning in virtual environments. Computers & Education, 52 (2), pp.343-352. Available at:


Huang, W. & Webster, D. (200) An intelligent semantic e-learning framework using context-aware Semantic Web technologie, Available at:

Iftikhar (2009) Pakistan Think Tank Forum • View topic – Gay and Lazbian Vs Muslim Children. Available at: [Accessed March 25, 2009].

Lamaster, K.J. & Knop, N. (2004) Improving web-based instruction: using action research to enhance distance learning instruction. Educational Action Research, 12 (3), pp.387 – 412. Available at:

McKernan, J. Curriculum action research. Available at:,M1 [Accessed March 25, 2009].

Passey, D., Williams, S. & Rogers, C. (2008) Assessing the potential of e-learning to support re-engagement amongst young people with Not in education, employment or training (NEET) status. In An independent research and evaluation study .  Lancaster: Lancaster University. Available at: [Accessed March 26, 2009].

Petrides, K.V., Frederickson, N. & Furnham, A. (2004) The role of trait emotional intelligence in academic performance and deviant behavior at school. Personality and Individual Differences, 36 (2), pp.277-293. Available at:

Phil Riding, Sue Fowell & Phil Levy (1995) An action research approach to curriculum development. Information Research, 1 (1). Available at: [Accessed March 25, 2009].

Rofes, E. (2000) Bound and Gagged: Sexual Silences, Gender Conformity and the Gay Male Teacher. Sexualities.

Selwyn, N. (2008) Constructing the challenge of digital didactics:, 4 (3). Available at: [Accessed April 1, 2009].

Smith , M.K. (2001) David A. Kolb on experiential learning. the encyclopedia of informal education. Available at: [Accessed February 15, 2009].

Sunal, C. & Haas  , M. (2008) Development of Self-Concept in Diverse Students. Available at: [Accessed March 26, 2009].

Teachers TV (2008) School Matters – Gay Teachers | Teachers TV. Available at: [Accessed March 25, 2009].

THE MUSLIM EDUCATIONAL TRUST (2001) Schools: Achieving Success,

Underwood, J. & Banyard, P. (2008) Managers’, teachers’ and learners’ perceptions of personalised learning: evidence from Impact 2007. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 17 (3), pp.233 – 246. Available at:

Vidal Rodeiro, C.L., Bell, J.F. & Emery, J.L. (2009) Can trait Emotional Intelligence predict differences in attainment and progress in secondary school? Available at: [Accessed March 25, 2009].

Wehmeyer, M.L. Brief Paper on Personal, Family and Community Strategies to Enhance Consumer-Direction and Self-Determination. Available at: [Accessed March 31, 2009].

Weihong Huang, D.W. (200) An intelligent semantic e-learning framework using context-aware Semantic Web technologie, Available at:

Wellington , J. & Cole, P. (2004) Conducting evaluation and research with and for ‘disaffected’ students: practical and methodological issues. British Journal of Special Education, 31 (2).


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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]









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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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HALBERSTAM, J. (1999) Oh Bondage Up Yours! Female Masculinity and the Tomboy

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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





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Digital Divide

Inclusive design of digital television

Executive Summary

Television, a global media that has the ability to target the majority of the world, with the rise of technological advances in the twenty first century, is turning digital, and the Government’s proposed switchover between now and 2012 will shape the future of this commodity, opening a host of opportunities.  The increased durability of the digital signal will see communication services highly enhanced, creating a great deal of opportunities for digital companies.

These technological advancements are necessary, but to what extent?  The ‘digital divide’ is becoming ever more apparent for a majority of people who are excluded from these developments.  These people come from a variety of age, social groups, gender and ability, nevertheless they are excluded.

One specific group is the over-65s and within this group are a majority who suffer from visual impairments, disabilities, mobility issues and cognitive problems.  90% of people with impaired eyesight are over 65, most of which rely on television as a means of entertainment, information and company.  The future foresees over 50% of the population being over 50 who have 80% of the nation’s wealth.  No longer is Pareto’s 80 / 20 rule in place anymore within this ageing society.  This is a clear majority, one who business and design will have to cater for.Movie Fifty Shades Darker (2017)

Designers, therefore must consider this ever increasing majority and begin to create inclusive products, spaces and designs.


Inclusive Design is not exclusive to people with impairments or that have reached a certain age but a form of design that incorporates everybody, ‘inclusive’.

There is one group of people that plays host to a variety of stereotypes and discrimination, the ‘old’.  This discriminate act is usually called ageism.

“a process of systematic stereotyping of and discrimination against people because they are old . . . Old people are categorised as senile, rigid in thought and manner, old-fashioned in morality and skills . . . Ageism allows the younger generation to see older people as different from themselves, thus they subtly cease to identify with their elders as human beings.

Ageism, like all prejudices, influences the self-view and behaviour of its victims.  The elderly tend to adopt negative definitions of themselves and perpetuate the very stereotypes directed against them, thereby reinforcing society’s beliefs.”

(Butler 1975)[i]

[ii]“The term “ageism” was coined in 1969 by Robert Butler” it’s comparison was with other forms of discrimination at the time like racism and sexism although the form has changed somewhat now it is seen now as any form of discrimination against, what was once a minority group.  The Concise English Dictionary describes ageism as [iii]“prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age.”

Getting old is a journey we all have to face, and we shall achieve great things along the way.  It can take many forms and it is individual specific although the end result is the same, we get old, it’s the way we deal with it that is different.  With this blessing called age, apparently, comes wisdom, but also with age comes a variety of misunderstandings, impairments, loss of functionality and understanding.  Some modern day affairs are incomprehensible for some of our ageing population, as will eventually be for us.

In ‘modern’ times we can establish that the prejudices ‘old’ people face are quite apparent as there are a lack of positive older role models within advertising and television and a definite sense of stereotyping into certain roles, for example, ‘dirty old man’.  This eradication of older people from our screens is not the only problem, twenty-first century advances are posing a threat to the ageing population’s television viewing.


The population of the UK in mid-2004 was 59 834 300, England was responsible for just over 50% of which the average age was 38.  This high average is due to our ageing population.  The National Statistics Online UK states [iv]“there were 20.0 million people aged 50 and over in the UK in 2003” and the figure is predicted to increase to a whopping [v] 27.2 million which is an increase of 36% in 2031.  Currently, the Nation has more people over the age of 60 than it does below 16 as the youth population has been in decline for a while, accounting for only 20%.  There were 17% of people over 65 and the population was 5.5% over 85  which is said to increase a considerable amount in future years, although the gender divide will be less than it is now as there are currently 100 women to every 85 men for this age group.  It is thought that over the next two decades the population between 50 and 65 is to increase by a staggering 20% whilst there shall be a fall of 5% between the ages of 25 to 39.

This increase is not only due to the mortality rate but also to the fertility rate and also the impacting growth of immigrants within the UK.   It is clear then that the [vi]”UK has an ageing population” and there needs to be considerations made when designing for future markets not only for age but race and gender also.

Older people tend to have multiple minor impairments/disabilities such as poor eyesight as 90% of the population who are blind or partially sighted are over 65 but these are not exclusive to age as some ‘disabled’ people share these impairments as so does a selection of the young population.  Oliver states “The social model of disability argues that disability is not some form of personal deficiency but is actually created by environments, products and services that fail to cater for the needs of their potential users.”

[vii]”With over 10 million disabled people in the UK and an estimated £80 billion to spend, taking action to provide equal access to goods and services is financially rewarding as well as morally right and legally correct.


Some facts and figures back this up:


* There are over 10 million disabled people in the UK.

* They have £80 billion annual spending power.

* 70% of disabled people are over 60 years old.

* Almost 75% of the Nation’s wealth is held by the over 50s.

* £184 billion of annual income is earned by the over 50s.

* More than 360,000 disabled people are under 16.”

The ageing population not only face the hurdles of life but also the consequences of a ‘poor’ education.  As Newnham discusses “around a third of people aged between 56 and 64 in the south-east of England have below level 2 (GCSE equivalent) qualifications, compared with 10.4 percent of people aged 16-25.”  The ageing population valued work and experience over education.  Alike the minor impairments poor education is not exclusive to the ‘old’ as Sherriff describes “Income, education and age as the biggest factors in creating the digital divide,…poor, badly educated people are still lagging behind…Still, they’ve got women and old people for company”

As technology is forever improving and becoming more advanced there is a constant increase that these people may become alienated from it.  One of those technical advances being the future of ‘Television’ and during the period 2008 – 2012, depending, the government will be switching to digital television and analogue shall be no more.  Digital television boasts a variety of enhancements compared to analogue, the benefits of which should be clearly made available to everybody but are these options catered for our ever growing ageing population.  It has an improved picture and sound quality and an array of interactive services, including e-mail.  This switchover is occurring whether one likes it or not, a concept bedazzling the majority of the ageing population, incorporating a lot of stress and worry into the transition that needs to take place.  For this transition to take place the introduction of new products, televisions and digital receiving devices are necessary for which need an amount of technical ability and understanding.

[viii]Ninety six percent of over 75 age group watch television every day as a source of entertainment, information and a reliable connection to the outside world of ‘what’s going on’.  The Government introduced free television licenses to the over 75s in November 2000 which has given television the opportunity to become a tool for social inclusion but these recent developments into switching off analogue could create exclusion.


My investigation hopes to uncover how two of the UK’s digital suppliers aim to include the ageing population within their design.  My research has been based on government statistical findings and in-depth reports highlighting various elements of inclusive and exclusive design.


Information is freely available on the web with regards to the crossover, but the ageing consumer, who is becoming a majority, does not necessarily surf the web, have access, the ability or the inclination, as findings show according to the Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General only [ix]17% of the population over 65 had surfed the web compared to 94% of 16-24-year-olds.  For the majority of the ageing population, television is television, the old fashioned analogue type.  They have no need for interactive services or these complications.  In a recent report [x]Multichannel vs Terrestrial Household Lifestyles – UK – July 2004 highlighted that approximately 40% of UK adults had no interest in digital television.  The groups in this high percentage were females, over-65s and the lowest social group.  A clear majority, 75% of the over-65s have only terrestrial television at home, accompanied by 66% of the lowest socio-economic group which could prove to be a problem for the Government to completely switch off analogue television as these majority groups could well be reluctant to switch to digital television as they may not have the skills or the finances.

[xi]“Yet many of those yet to go digital are exactly the people that the State has a duty to protect – the elderly, the disabled, the poorest.  They have in many cases the most to gain from a fully digital world. And we have to make sure they aren’t left behind.”  Tessa Jowell

To tackle the digital divide the Government in September 2005, alongside the BBC, with funding from the license fee, a scheme has been created to ensure people are not excluded from the switchover.  The scheme will provide free equipment and installation for the over-75s, people with significant disabilities and people of the lowest socio-economic group who are on Income Support, Job Seeker’s Allowance or Pension Credit.

To ensure a smooth switchover to digital, the Government’s, Department for Culture Media and Sport has teamed up with numerous charities and organisations including the RNIB, the RNID, Age Concern, Help the Aged and the Consumers’ Association – along with the Department for Work and Pensions and the BBC.  Together they have produced a follow-up support package for the over-75s and people with significant disabilities.

Technology is a complicated affair and with this introduction of digital television, although bringing a vast array of benefits will be accompanied by a host of confusion unless the functionality is comprehensible, not only by 16-24-year-olds but by everyone, ‘inclusive’.

Case Studies

As discussed this transition into the digital age will bring a plethora of technological gizmos and gadgets that will ‘enhance’ your life.  Digital television needs to be controlled and to do this requires a remote control.

The ‘remote control’ (although used in the war), was first designed for the television in the 1950’s and was called [xii]“Lazy Bone.”  The ‘Lazy Bone’ was not wireless like today’s examples but had a bulky wired implement that consumers were prone to tripping on.  The remote has moved on a lot since then, instead of being a luxury in the 1950’s, it became a common accessory in the 1980’s.  The remote control is a great invention especially for people with mobility problems.  It means the viewer can control the television, set-top box or other electrical device without having to leave the comfort of their chair making the television more accessible.  Now the 21st century plays host to the advancement of digital television and the remote control has very many  more jobs to do.  The capabilities of digital television consist of a vast range of information and entertainment services such as


TV guide (electronic programme guide, EPG)

social contact e.g. email

interactive / online games with remote viewers

enhanced programmes e.g. voting on outcomes / issues


video on demand

live interactive sport e.g. altering viewing angles

talking books / radio


current affairs e.g. news, financial information

interactive non-broadcast content e.g. healthcare advice

websites / TV portals

interactive advertising

courses / learning

search for jobs / holidays etc.


These complex digital enhancements offer the user the options but can the user ‘use’ the technology?  These on-screen user interfaces are [xiii]“based on web technologies” which bring an array of difficulties as displaying these menus on low-resolution televisions is quite difficult as British television has a resolution of 720px by 576px of which only 80% can be used to display text successfully.  This requires the user to be intuitive and have the ability to understand the screens and navigate successfully through this interactive maze.  The user also has to understand the remote control to be able to control the screen.  This will most probably involve the user changing glasses to more appropriate reading glasses as stated earlier 90% of people with impaired eyesight are over 65 most of which rely on television.

To create a good ‘design’ requires knowledge and to acquire this a great deal of research and investigation is necessary.  You need to know your consumer, and the television audience is massive, containing every type of being, it is a heterogeneous audience which has many different user requirements. Although moving to a definite digital age is relatively new the technology has been around for some time and a company utilising that technology is Sky.


BSkyB have been a leader in television for over a decade now and their name and brand identity immediately recognisable.  In the early years their analogue satellite receiving equipment was constructed by six different companies.  This created six different remote controls causing a great deal of confusion, not creating a cohesive brand identity.  Deciding to unify the look of  their handset, Frazer Designers were commissioned in 1996 to design the British Sky Broadcasting remote control.

Frazer are a company that have spanned 25 years in the design business and are pioneers in their field.  They have conceptualised and constructed some of the most influential pieces of design in the last three decades.

[xiv]“Sky’s brief to Frazer was for ‘the most comfortable and easy-to-use remote ever for males and females between the ages of five and 80’, to operate an electronic programme guide (EPG) that ‘any new user should be able to learn 70% of… within 15 minutes’.”


Sky’s approach of wanting a functional, inclusive design is highly commendable.  They know their target market and nobody is excluded.

Over the following two years Frazer, the top London design company researched heavily into creating one of the UK’s most prevalent objects.

Their initial strategy was to forget all other designs of remote and go back to basics.  Frazer embarked on their initial part of research which explored current issues regarding the use of a remote control.  Through focus groups they acquired qualitative results on how the remote was used in relation to the television.  This gave them an insight into what aspects of the remotes worked best and hone in on all the positive aspects and establish the negative ones.

[xv] “Frazer looked at the following issues” using ergonomics, a practice that ensures harmonious relationship between user and product.

•      Format – should the remote be rectangular, square, round or portrait?

•      Handset sculpting and form

•      Shape, number and size of buttons

•      Relationship of functions to the Electronic Programming Guide (EPG)

•      Position of buttons relative to each other and the handset

•      Contours of the keyboard surface

•      Weight and balance Colour and contrast of buttons, case and graphics.


Analysing the data,  they could determine how the device was handled, whether it was comfortable and used with ease.  How it sat in the hand, functioned, which buttons were used and how often.  All these factors would be influential in the design process.

One of the main problems with remotes is buttons and their function as there are usually far more buttons than people use.  Determining from the research Frazer proceeded to organise the functions into three categories and how they were used and the frequency these were then organised into three main formations on the remote control according to the three different pushing methods.

The decision for the shape was stick format, chosen to [xvi]“avoid bias”  ensuring it could be used with ease by both left and right handed users.  Thirty foam models of varying shapes, contours and sizes created.  Buttons were then placed on the remote accordingly.

[xvii]“Infrequently used functions such as the main system set-up, On/Off and Sky service options were positioned in the index finger zone.  The most frequently used functions – navigation, channel, volume, mute and back up – were arranged to fall under the user’s thumb.  The alpha-numeric functions were positioned closest to the user so they could be operated using the two-handed method in which buttons are pressed with one hand and the remote is held with the other.”

A series of focus groups were then arranged, where the participants would engage with the dummy remotes, blindfolded.  This was so they would not be influenced by the colour or shape of the remote, visually, but that they would have a tactile uninfluenced response.  The respondents were asked a series of questions

[xviii]“Which do you think is the right way up?

Which do you think is the front?

Which shape do you find most comfortable?”

From the data collected Frazer were able to pick out the most common honest answers and form a further design decision.  This time the answers were created into a group of 6 sculpted models which underwent further blindfolded focus groups.  These groups were more intuitive and entailed the participant to mould the interface into a more comfortable shape, change the position of the keys and the place where the batteries was stored.   These further alterations of user interactivity were recorded and influential in the final design.

The battery compartment was greatly considered and made into a design feature.   Constructed from a harder material than the rest ensured it had a longer life and more durable.  The compartment was covered by a softer tactile rubber.  The placement of this battery compartment and tactile feature which sits in the palm of your hand was to help the user to find the designed orientation of the product to enhance usability it also stops the remote from slipping as a researchers at [xix]Cambridge Engineering Design Centre found.

The buttons were designed chunky to be accessible by people with impaired flexibility, the spacing between enough to ensure only one button was pressed at a time.  Which is quite a problem for people with dexterity issues.  The sky remote houses 34 buttons of which colours were kept to a minimum.  Graphics work together with the tactile indicators such as bumps and tiny dots which are great indicators for partially sighted people.  However the font size and abbreviations are quite small and the white text on the bright jade green seems difficult to read.  These buttons are the ‘important’ digital interactive service buttons which seem to warn rather than invite its user, especially those who are technologically uninformed.

The sky remote though is well informed and has a great deal of research and user involvement behind it.

[xx]“Frazer claims that the flat and balanced shape and the configuration of the buttons make the Sky product the most ergonomic remote handset ever created.”

This piece of design took over 9 months to develop cost £250, 000 which seems a small price to pay as the remote sits in over five million homes of which there has only been 100 returns.  This enforces sky’s brand as a sign of quality.

This is a clear example of great product design and innovation.  The Sky consumer and prospective consumers were all taken into consideration making this piece of design a well informed inclusive part of the household.  Sky are continuing to improve their remote control and are currently working alongside SCOPE and Age Concern to develop an even more inclusive handset.


[xxi]“ntl is committed to improving the products and services offered to all customers including disabled customers.”

The ntl remote boasts to have been created inclusively [xxii]“to make it easier to use for disabled customers.”

At first glance, the slender torpedo shaped handset looks quite hard and uninviting yet the shape of the underneath is curved and split into two sections.  The contours of which fit comfortably into the palm of both hands giving opportunity for a firm hold if the remote needs to be operated by two hands.

The ntl remote has 39 buttons a third more than an average remote.  Alike the Sky remote the buttons have been divided into three distinct sections.

The bottom section consists of the alphanumeric keypad of which the ‘5’ key has a raised bump as [xxiii]“the majority of visually impaired people tended to use numerical keys” to change the channel, so this identifier helps the user to navigate.  This is not a new invention and I would have expected this to come as standard.  Also in this bottom section is the clearly identifiable ‘Fastext’ buttons displayed in red, green, yellow and blue.  Although the same colour, these buttons have taken on a new function within the digital realm in comparison to the analogue text.  Their function opens an array of digital interactive services, such as the common ‘press red’ that appears on the screen.

The next section on the control is the middle section which houses the main navigation buttons.  The central button is a wide oval shape with ‘ok’ and ‘select’ of a reasonable sized font approximately 10pt.  The position of this button reflects its importance as the surrounding buttons are for the navigation, containing arrows / triangles which point in the varying directions, up, down, left and right.  Framing these buttons either side to the left are the two ‘VOLUME’ and right the two CHANNEL’ buttons.  They are all four silver in colour, a completely different shape and have a slight raised bump on each.  Within the two lower buttons the bump contains a minus sign (-) and the two buttons above, a plus (+).  This tactile element adds another easily identifiable way to navigate and control your viewing.

There are 14 other buttons placed in the top section of the remote, including the power button.  This button contains a light which activates when the buttons are pressed.  The light has 2 colours red, this indicates to the user that a button is being pressed and something should happen to the ntl cable set top box and green which indicates a button is again being pressed but the remote is communicating with the television.

Just below the power button to the left is the ‘help’ button which when pressed opens up the help section of the EPG where users can research into how to use their remote and interface successfully.  This all be it a simple task requires the user to be aware of the functioning of screen based navigation and interactivity.  The ‘help’ is written in lower case approximately 8pt type as are all the other labels in this top section.  These are quite difficult to read, as they are written in pale grey on grey and blue buttons.

Although claiming to be ‘inclusive’ the ntl remote has come under scrutiny, as researchers at the [xxiv]Cambridge Engineering Design Centre undertook a qualitative research project highlighting the problems with remote controls.  The ntl remote was considered difficult to handle and unintuitive.  There tended to be a delayed response between the user pressing the button and the set top box.  This led to confusion and having to repress the button harder to ensure a response.  The top section of buttons were ignored as the user had no indication what they were for and were generally happy with the knowledge that they could use the numeric keypad to access the usual terrestrial channels.

Although clearly not as ergonomically designed as the sky remote the ntl device has obviously taken some inspiration from its competitor.  The button layout for the navigation and ok /select buttons is in the same arrangement although the sky directional buttons are more intuitive as they are shaped as the arrows rather than the small painted on ones of the ntl.  The channel and volume buttons are too in similar places, this is an area where the ntl remote is successful as they have not abbreviated as have sky, ensuring better readability for the user.  The sky remote however uses rubber for its buttons which is far more tactile and intuitive compared to the hard plastic used by ntl.  The sky’s help button is positioned in an easy access place, amongst the frequently used buttons unlike ntl’s which requires the use of the index finger as understood by the research performed by Frazer is a place what doesn’t get used much this does not make it easy for people with dexterity issues who will be the people who most need the help.  The EPG interactive buttons on both remotes are a contrasting colour to the housing although the position is far superior on the sky remote, reflecting the months of research carried out.  The sky remote is still not totally inclusive although they are continuing to work with leading organisations and charities to resolve resounding issues and have again commissioned Frazer for another two remotes.  This is clearly a great working partnership whose consumer considerations are pro active reflecting inclusive design and great design management.


People are currently happy without digital television, although their lives will be enhanced through the ability to shop, make transactions, have audio enhancements, stay in touch and the rest of these wonderful things that digital television will bring, there needs to be more emphasis on the design and interaction between user and technology if these services are to be introduced and used efficiently.

Efforts are clearly being made to include everyone in the digital age although there definitely needs to be more understanding to ensure the requirements of everybody are taken into consideration.  We can see from these companies that inclusive design is taking shape and consideration is being given to guidelines set out by the RNIB, SCOPE, Age Concern and Help the Aged.  There does however, need to be more thought given to the construction of these devices, as technology is forever advancing we should maybe consider how we can make technology simple and user-friendly.  Designers need to ‘put themselves in everybody’s shoes’ to ensure a successful product.  The people who they are excluding are the people with the majority of wealth, who have more of a disposable income and are spending rather than saving for a rainy day.  To increase spending designers need to ensure everything is inclusive.

This essay has been designed to take into consideration the reading needs of older people, the typeface Gill Sans has been used along with indented paragraphs to ensure a more fluid readability.


Butler, R. N. (1975). “Psychiatry and the elderly: An overview.” American Journal of Psychiatry, 132, 893-900.

Butler, R. N. (1975). Why survive? Being old in America. New York: Harper & Row

Newnham, David. TES LEARNING REFORMS , Older Learners, Chain Reaction. MAY 19 2006

Oliver M., The Politics of Disablement, Palgrave Macmillan, 1990. Cited in Etchelland, Lindsey and  Yelding, David. Inclusive design: products for all consumers. CONSUMER POLICY REVIEW NOV/DEC 2004 • VOLUME 14 • NUMBER 6

Sherriff, Lucy. “Poor left stranded by digital divide.” <>


[i] Overcoming ageism in service design and delivery

Paper presented at Aged Care for the New Millennium

Aged Care Conference Melbourne 26-28 July 1999

Patricia Reeve


[ii] “ageism n.”  The Concise Oxford English Dictionary. Ed. Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson. Oxford University Press, 2004. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  13 June 2006  <>

[iii] Population estimates, Office for National Statistics

Population projections, Government Actuary’s Department

Census 2001, Office for National Statistics

Census 2001, General Register Office for Scotland


Unless otherwise stated older people refers to those aged 50 years and over.

Published on 22 November 2005 at 9:30 am

[v] Government response to Aspects of the Economics of an Ageing Population. London : The Stationery Office Limited. 2004 (The Numbers Game: Older people and the media report, Independent Television Commission, 2002)

[viii] Mary Bellis









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