“They’re All Up in the Gym and All That, Tops Off, Fake Tan.” Embodied Masculinities, Bodywork and Resistance Within Two British Prisons

  • Matthew Maycock
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology book series (PSIPP)


Prison masculinities are manifest themselves in a plurality of ways (Maycock et al., Manuscript under review) that include hegemonic (Connell 1995; Connell and Messerschmidt 2005) as well as inclusive (Anderson 2008, 2009; Anderson and McGuire 2010) masculinities. Such presentations have implications for embodied masculinities within prison. Following Gill et al. (2005), I consider a range of bodily modifications, reflecting Shilling’s (2003) insight that the more we know about bodies, the more it is possible to change them. These embodied efforts by the men in this study make significant contributions to the performance of ‘emergent masculinities’ (Inhorn and Wentzell 2011) within prison. The importance of bodies for constructs of masculinity strengthens the view that ‘looking’ masculine is critical, in addition to ‘doing’ masculinity (Connell 1983; Drummond 2011). This chapter considers the ways in which the prison context shapes both the ‘looking’ and the ‘doing’ of male prisoners’ bodies, using data collected from two high-security men’s prisons in Britain. I initially examine accounts of the sorts of bodies that prisoners desire and aspire to achieve. I then consider the ways in which specific manifestations of ‘bodywork’ (Dworkin 1974) and associated performances of certain embodied masculinities constitute resistance to the prison regime.


Bodywork Bodies Embodied masculinities Resistance Agency Masculinity 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew Maycock
    • 1
  1. 1.The Scottish Prison ServiceEdinburghUK

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