What are the prevailing masculinity ideals among contemporary Danish men? As one of the Nordic welfare states, Denmark has for decades focused on gender equality and changes in the gendered division of labour. Research has suggested a shift in masculinity ideals, but processes of change comprise not only changes but also continuities, as well as ambivalences and contradictions. This article investigates how normative masculinity ideals—the most accepted ways of being a man in a certain context—are expressed and negotiated by contemporary Danish men, and how these ideals are related to overall discourses of gender. The article is based on a mixed methods design, consisting of: (1) a quantitative survey among lower-educated men in two male-dominated occupations, and (2) a qualitative, explorative analysis of data from five focus group interviews with both lower- and higher-educated men. The two occupations in the survey constitute a critical case, based on the argument that if traditional masculinity ideals are rejected here—among lower-educated men, who are likely to be more supportive of traditional gender ideals than the more highly educated—then Danish men in general are likely to reject traditional masculinity ideals. Both the quantitative and qualitative analyses indicate that traditional patriarchal masculinity ideals are not the most legitimate among the men. They seem to subscribe to more gender equality friendly masculinities, although this picture is not clear-cut as we also see negotiations and variations between the men. Thus, the article concludes that in a Danish context we can identify authoritative masculinity ideals that do not reproduce patriarchy or support traditional masculinity ideals in an unambiguous way.
Nora - Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, 2015, Vol 23, Issue 3, p. 152-169