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Perversions of Prison: On the Origins of Hypermasculinity and Sexual Violence in Confinement

NCJ Number
American Criminal Law Review Volume: 48 Issue: 1 Dated: Winter 2011 Pages: 121-141
Craig Haney
Date Published
21 pages
This article examines the origins of hypermasculinity and sexual violence in male correctional institutions.
Using the article Strategic Segregation in the Modern Prison as a starting point, this article explores the origins of hypermasculinity and sexual violence in male correctional institutions. The author starts by attempting to explain the sexual behavior of incarcerated men and the need for programs and facilities such as K6G, the segregation program implemented by the Los Angeles County Jail to protect incarcerated gay men and transgendered women from sexual victimization. The author explores the conditions that lead to the continued perpetration of sexual violence in men's correctional institutions. This is followed by a discussion of three types of prison masculinities that can help to explain the role that sexual aggression plays in prison environments. These masculinities are: hegemonic masculinity - the form of masculinity that approximates the cultural ideal of manhood and is characterized by authority, control, independence, heterosexuality, aggressiveness, and a capacity for violence; hypermasculinity - an exaggerated, aggressive form of masculinity that most men experienced prior to prison and could generally be categorized as "traditional male socialization"; and toxic masculinity - a form of masculinity that derives from feelings of insecurity and compromised masculinity. The author explores how these three forms of masculinity exist in today's jails and how they complicate efforts to improve the problem of prison sexual violence. Implications for reform are discussed.