As we learned in Foucalt’s readings, one of the greatest institutions for monitoring adolescent sexuality is school. Very much like Lord of the Flies, youth create their own system of keeping hierarchy in check, but it’s administrators that attempt to ban sexuality while fostering what Butler calls the ‘heterosexual matrix’. At River High School, C.J. Pascoe observes how masculinity is not only defined, but very publicly yet insidiously ‘policed’, by students and faculty.
Though the process of gendering sex starts a birth and continues through adolescence with the help of media and constant bombardment defining ‘what girls do’ and ‘what boys do’, high schools seem to be the boot camp of sexuality: boys battling to assert themselves as men and girls training to be ‘sexually available’.
Pascoe lays out the formal and informal sex curriculum of the average high school. Sex education, or more appropriately sex prohibition, includes your typical reverence for abstinence, keeping condoms on the hush and separating girls from boys. It’s oddly contradictory to the informal sex curriculum which encourages heterosexual relationships, marriage, and male domination and sexuality.
Without being fully aware, it appears faculty made as much of an effort as students to clearly define the terms of masculinity. Upholding rituals, like earning the title of Mr. Cougar or the over-sexualized, sanctioned school dance, puts in place criteria for the boys who hope to become men that include physical and sexual prowess. It can even be implied that who ever didn’t develop to the level of Mr. Cougar, or wasn’t even close to being runner up, was less than a man and a bit of a ‘fag’. However, the idea of a man is almost impossible to live up: generally a straight white male who is physically proportionate, great at all sports, able to charm and sleep with as many women as possible and reject all traits that could be considered feminine.
The social structure of the average high school is an introduction to the format of the adult world. The pedagogy teaches students where men and women, and even people of color are placed in society, and they will probably continue to model that for the rest of their lives.