Call On Me – the Homosocial Defined?

Posted in Uncategorized by wtravisumd on May 7, 2010

So members of the Army ROTC put on a little show in front of McKeldin today.

In my last post, people brought up the idea of the ‘homosocial.’ I tend to reject this idea for various reasons that I’ll get to, but if there were ever a definition of homosocial, then this video would be it.

So I’m still not clear what homosocial is, exactly. And I don’t intend to look it up. I’d much rather have it explained to me. But what I grasp is that it is the affection/closeness/whatever that soldiers are supposed to feel. Also, it is somehow related to DADT.

My rejection of this theory comes from the fact that the actions that define ‘homosocial’ are not sexual in any way. Sure, I’ve shared a sleeping bag with other guys, I’ve showered with other guys (yes, plural and sometimes in the same stall) but none of this was sexual in any way. It was all done out of necessity. So unless homosocial is defined in some sense that I’m missing then my point stands.

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4 Responses

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  1. rmleeb said, on May 7, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    I think the term “homosocial” inherently relies on a level of prejudice, but I feel that I have some understanding of it.

    It’s actually helpful that you are in the Army. I’m in a fraternity, and I think, as you have said, that these communities very often tend to be labeled as homosocial.

    First, I think that it is important to understand that homosexuals are often generalized to have social “tendencies.” (I’m not saying they’re accurate or not, just that they exist.) They like to party. They like to dance. They like to do drugs. They like to get into big groups of guys and have fun together.

    It’s important to understand, like showering together in the army, that none of these things are sexual. They are social tendencies.

    So, I think the term “homosocial” is extremely accurate–it deconstructs the term “homosexual” to “homo-” and “-sexual,” then takes the “homo-” and attaches to it “-social.” This, I feel, makes all of the SOCIAL TENDENCIES of HOMOSEXUALS apply to HETEROSEXUALS, without necessitating sexual interaction.

    We (army, fraternities, etc) get labelled as homosocials because, from the outside looking in, all people see are a lot of dudes that always stick together, and they have fun while they’re doing it. We construct our own communities that are unavoidably close (when you live with 50 dudes for four years, your bound to learn about them and bond), and that is sometimes difficult to understand.

    I think an extremely good example of this occurs almost every single day in my house.

    Scenario: “I love you, man.”
    Brother 1: Man, I just really wanna tell you I love you.
    Brother 2: I love you too, bro. No homo.

    We use the phrase “no homo” (as many others do) to indicate that a homosocial tendency is being utilized, but that it requires no sexual implications. Because I understand this, I do not find the term “homosocial” or the phrase “no homo” as offensive, just accurate and misunderstood.

    We just like to get down with our bros, mang.

  2. kth14 said, on May 7, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    First of all, I like your definition of homosocial. We encounter homosocial situations everyday, and while sometimes it seems necessary to say “no homo” (example: scenario “I love you, man”) sometimes it is already known to be a homosocial situation and there is no need to modify with “no homo” because that is already understood (guys showering together in a locker room). I feel like guys especially overreact to a crossing of this homosocial line into homosexual territory. When a guy in the locker room shower admits he’s gay or one notices him looking at another guy inappropriately, the unspoken understanding of homosocialism is broken and men tend to overreact to this lack of homosocialism because it now seems like homosexual.

    I also wanted to talk about the video. While I did find the video funny, I was also surprisingly upset by it. I think this is because I view it as making fun of gay men and the ROTC doing it makes it worse because I feel like they aren’t making fun out of affection or respect, but in a mean way. Unless this display was purely for fun and to be silly, yet I have a feeling there’s an underlining meaning to it to make fun of homosexuality. But, this video is a perfect example of homosocialism and if the understanding was broken, the men in this video would not have been nearly so into the moves and choreography of the display.

  3. kaykay said, on May 7, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    I have actually never heard of the term “homosocial”. To me, it sounds like an act of being gay to please someone or a group of people in a social environment, eg. “I’m a social drinker.” I believe that it is okay to sleep or shower with other men in a non-sexual way because we tend to think of those things in our society as homosexual behavior. Like you have stated your behaviors were out of necessity, making it an act of survival and not solely for pleasure. Due to the fact that we are so brain-washed to think that these behaviors are homosexually related, makes doing those things, let’s say and being in the military, very stereotyped.

    As for the video, I think that the Army ROTC does it every year because my friend in the Army ROTC program was in it last year. I personally think that what they are doing in the video can be highly offensive to people who actually may dress or act like that. But then again, they have a freedom and freewill to portray whomever they want. Maybe they are attempting to make the statement that just because they are seen as “big muscular Army men” they can’t do silly things (or perhaps normal behavior) like this too? …just a thought.

  4. jshu10 said, on May 8, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosociality

    “In sociology, homosociality describes same-sex relationships that are not of a romantic or sexual nature, such as friendship, mentorship or others. The opposite of homosocial is heterosocial, preferring non-sexual relations with the opposite sex. In group relations involving more than two individuals, the relation can be either homosocial (involving same-sex social relations) or bisocial involving social relation with both sexes)”

    I know you said no definitions, but I just couldn’t help myself. Homo-sociality is merely a terming referring to same sex social interactions. But I think its interesting in the ways it opposes itself to homo-sexuality. Specifically in the kinds of anxieties it makes visible. For example, I have plenty of gay guy friends whom I don’t sleep with…and these are just as easily classifiable as homosocial…but these were not the kinds of interactions which you first considered.

    It seems to me that expressions like “no homo,” emerge from a subtle mode of policing, of clearing out/evacuating the potentially homoerotic subjectivity which haunts sites of homosocial interaction. What I think produces this anxiety about erotic potential, is the spectre of a queer gaze; of (potentially) being seen and seeing one’s self in a homoerotic/homosexual way. Saying “no homo” simultaneously calls attention to the erotic potential of the interaction between guys (or girls!), while creating a consensus that there was no homoerotic content to the given interaction.

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