“Becoming Mr. Cougar” by C. J. Pascoe
In “Becoming Mr. Cougar”, Pascoe focuses on the school’s role in helping institutionalize sexual identities and practices. She mentions some of the activities that the school itself puts together, and also how some of the school staff and administration react to practices of sexuality at their high school. Pascoe also discusses how some of these practices are a part of the daily life of a student, and that some are placed purposely. She emphasizes that regardless, they are not addressed, and become an influence for students in that specific high school as they are growing into adults. One of the first things that Pascoe talks about is some of the things that happen at the high school regarding policies on sexual education, and some of the attitudes of the teachers around this. She goes on about how sex education is taught at school to try and make students aware, but regard abstinence as the ideal way to go for everyone.
Also, she also discusses that when talking about sex in the classroom, usually everything is discussed within a realm of heterosexuality; always about a. man and a woman. Even outside of sex education this seems to be the case too. Things that even seem to be harmless such as posters, lessons, and jokes in class, always seemed to be talked about assuming heterosexuality without any mention of homosexuality. Unless it was a joke of course. Pascoe also mentions in the reading how teachers and staff were not quick to stop jokes about homosexuality, or any comments that included “faggot”. Many of the teachers seemed to be okay with it and let it go on as “kids just being kids”. She mentions several examples of how the administration sets sexual norms within the school both purposefully and subconsciously. She provides an example which she talked about in the beginning of the book and throughout the whole chapter: the Mr. Cougar contest.
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All of the skits that the young men performed were focused on the “masculinity” of the kids competing. Whenever they showed something that was supposed to be seen as weakness in the skits, they used feminine behavior or things that were related to homosexuality. What is interesting about this contest is that the skits do have to be approved by teachers before they were performed. I think that the research done so far in this high school is very surprising. I almost don’t feel surprised though because these things that Pascoe mentions, most American teens have lived through and continue to.