“U Mad I’m Stylin on U Brah with My Aesthetics?”: Use of the Body to Alter Gendered Power Relations in A Recreational Bodybuilding Community
Despite suggestions that the recent emphasis on muscularity among men is due to a “crisis in masculinity” that stems from increases in women’s power, there has been surprisingly little research investigating how the body is used by men to alter gendered power relations. In this seminar I present the results of an online ethnography of the Zyzz fandom: an international community of thousands of young, male recreational bodybuilders who idolize Aziz Shavershian (aka “Zyzz”). Specifically, I describe how the body is shaped and displayed in order to become “alpha” and thus change relations with women, and between men. In so doing, I demonstrate how Zyzz and his fans appropriate traditionally feminine strategies for obtaining power with an emphasis on male secondary sex characteristics.
About the Presenter
Mair Underwood is an anthropologist in the School of Social Science who specialises in bodies. In particular she explores how body modifications (such as tattoo or bodybuilding) are used to create, reflect and disrupt social boundaries such as those of gender and class.