Toxic masculinity

Research in the US suggests that sexist men who want to have power over women are more likely to suffer from psychological problems. The traditional dominant macho behaviour can be harmful to men as well as to women – a “toxic masculinity”.

Washington Post: Sexist men have psychological problems

Psychologists looking at 10 years of data from nearly 20,000 men found that those who value having power over women and endorse playboy behavior and other traditional notions of masculinity are more likely to suffer from psychological problems — and less likely to seek out help.

The new meta-analysis, which was published Monday in the Journal of Counseling Psychology, synthesized 78 studies on masculinity and mental health gathered between 2003 and 2013. The participants ranged in age from 12 to over 65, and the vast majority were men.

Researchers then identified 11 norms considered to be “traditionally masculine” — desire to win, need for emotional control, risk-taking, violence, dominance, sexual promiscuity or playboy behavior, self-reliance, primacy of work, power over women, disdain for homosexuality and pursuit of status — and looked to see whether they were associated with particular mental health outcomes.

In general, the men who stuck more strongly to these norms were more likely to experience problems such as depression, stress, body image issues, substance abuse and negative social functioning. They were also less likely to turn to counseling to help deal with those problems. The effect was particularly strong for men who emphasized playboy behavior, power over women and self-reliance.

Not all of the traditionally masculine norms that Wong studied were linked to psychological problems. For example, putting work first didn’t correlate with either positive or negative mental health outcomes; perhaps that’s a reflection of the fact that investing a lot of emotional energy in work can be fulfilling, even though it taxes relationships, Wong said. And risk taking was associated with huge positive and negative mental health outcomes, possibly because how you feel after taking a risk depends on whether the risk pays off.

But valuing playboy behavior and power over women — aside from being explicitly sexist — was strongly correlated with psychological problems.

I think that men trying to impose power over women – or anyone trying to impose power over anyone else – is a symptom of a lack of confidence in themselves. They have trouble earning respect so they try and demand it, which doesn’t work out well.

A growing group of psychologists are interested in studying “toxic masculinity” — the idea that some traditional ideas about how men should behave are harmful to men, women and society overall. 

The point is not to demonize men, or the attributes some of them possess. It’s more to understand how behaviors encouraged in men can be damaging for everyone involved.

Basically, if you sort your own shit out you are less likely to try and shit on others.

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113 Comments

  1. Toxic masculinity rules !!! … OK?

    Reply
  2. Corky

     /  23rd November 2016

    ”I think that men trying to impose power over women – or anyone trying to impose power over anyone else – is a symptom of a lack of confidence in themselves.’

    Not necessarily. Power of any sort gives you a warm fuzzy feeling. As President Trumpy would say ”its a beautiful thing.” If you think about it every day is a power play. From personal relationships to interaction with society in general. The fact is everyone wants power. If you attend a Silva Mind Control course you’d be flabbergasted at who shows up.
    Likewise self defence courses. It boils down to one thing…power over others.

    As to the confidence aspect. One thing I instinctively felt about most bullies is they have confidence in spades. This goes against the the notion of bullies lacking confidence. A recent study has back my observations up, finding bullies suffer from too much confidence. However, that study is in the minority.

    The secret of power is simple…it has to be wielded judiciously. So judiciously that few realise you are applying your power over them, otherwise you risk becoming a stat in some study claiming you have psychological problems .

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  23rd November 2016

      I heard Dr Phil saying that bullies do it because they can, not because they’re all cowards as is popularly supposed (although some undoubtedly are) When I was bullied badly at school, it was definitely a case of the bullies doing it because they could and I couldn’t stop them.

      A friend married the bullying bitch from Hell-who knows what went on in her evil, twisted little mind ? It was easier to give in at once rather than have life made miserable until he did.

      I would say, from observation, that sexism is at least 50/50. Watch televison ads and see who is much more likely to look like an incompetent idiot in them.

      Reply
  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  23rd November 2016

    The WaPo link doesn’t work for me but I found the article and went chasing for the data in vain. I suspect this is typical pop sci crap with a weak correlation blown up into a click bait story. I’d treat it as b.s. until further notice.

    Reply
    • Anonymous Coward

       /  23rd November 2016

      http://psycnet.apa.org/?&fa=main.doiLanding&doi=10.1037/cou0000176

      There you go. No free lunch with academic papers, it’ll cost you $11.95 US.
      And it doesn’t seem to be a scam ‘pay for publication’ journal.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  23rd November 2016

        No data in the abstract. Weasel words modestly and moderately used to describe correlations. Still treating it as b.s.

        Reply
    • Joe Bloggs

       /  23rd November 2016

      Great demonstration of toxic masculinity there Alan

      Reply
      • Anonymous Coward

         /  23rd November 2016

        From that article, the only really pertinent point ….

        “The call wasn’t a complete surprise. The year before, I had run a sting operation for Science on fee-charging open access journals, a fast-growing and lucrative new sector of the academic publishing business. To find out how many of those publishers are keeping their promise of doing rigorous peer review, I submitted ridiculously flawed papers and counted how many rejected them. (Answer: fewer than half.)”

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  23rd November 2016

          Alan, be thankful that AC isn’t the ghastly mrMan and Jamie who used to be here (shudders at awful memory) Lud, they were dreadful-real cyberbullies who could ruin any discussion. I wonder if people like that have any idea how disliked they are, with their refusal to let anything drop and constant abuse. AC could never be that bad, I hope.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  23rd November 2016

            @Kitty, I know you feuded with Jamie but I thought she made some good comments and I was sorry she disappeared. MrMan was an entirely nastier bit of work.

            Reply
          • Gezza

             /  23rd November 2016

            I’ve been wondering if A might be related to Noel?

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  23rd November 2016

              I don’t know who Noel is, but I think that AC may have been here before. They have said one or two things that make it seem as if they know us already.

              But let us be thankful that the vile mrMan is gone. They really were the limit. They made the worst pitbull look like a lapdog.

            • Gezza

               /  23rd November 2016

              Re Noel, think ‘actress’ and ‘kipper’.

            • Anonymous Coward

               /  23rd November 2016

              Martin Clunes? I don’t think so.

              https://www.google.co.nz/#q=actress+kipper

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  23rd November 2016

              Or related to, er, someone else ?

            • Gezza

               /  23rd November 2016

              Oh, sorry, gidday, A. Thought you might’ve gone off to look for more images. No, I meant you’re not related to the famous Noel Coward are you? Probably best I don’t expand on the kippers thing.

            • Anonymous Coward

               /  23rd November 2016

              You probably should.

  4. Who needs data? Most toxic things in this world are an expression of toxic masculinity … plain as day …

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  23rd November 2016

      You’ve never met a controlling or manipulative woman then?

      Reply
      • Note my use of the word “most” Alan …

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  23rd November 2016

          In my experience the sexes are fairly evenly balanced in most things good and bad, PZ.

          Reply
          • Well, I’m not gonna start listing toxic things, but let’s have a look at just one: War. I rest my case …

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  23rd November 2016

              Women who vote for it or men who go off to get killed? Hillary who is more hawkish than Trump or Obama who wanted to end it all?

            • The corporations, military leaders and politicians who profit by it, almost exclusively men … You can’t get more toxic than them …

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  23rd November 2016

              Fail:
              Women currently control 51 percent, or $14 trillion, of personal wealth in the U.S. and are expected to control $22 trillion by 2020

            • Gezza

               /  23rd November 2016

              Not the same thing as what PZ’s talking about, when you look historically at who most frequently declare wars and who runs the companies that generally make money out of them supplying arms, and whatever else is assigned or allocated to private sector interests. The Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld cartel was specially blatant.

            • Gezza

               /  23rd November 2016

              Interested in your claim about women controlling most of the personal wealth in the US, though. Got a link, Al?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  23rd November 2016

              http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/bmo-report-despite-controlling-14-trillion-wealth-american-women-still-have-challenges-tsx-bmo-2006436.htm

              I wasn’t surprised. Years ago I read how women controlled most stocks – mainly because their husbands died younger.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  23rd November 2016

              You think no women are involved and benefit in the Bush, Chaney, Rumsfield cartels, G? I seem to recall Barbara Bush was quite a force.

            • Gezza

               /  23rd November 2016

              Probably their toxicity. Cheers for the link.

            • Gezza

               /  23rd November 2016

              I don’t remember seeing her during the media biefings with all the bullshit diagrams of bunkers and non-existent WMDs and shit? Did she cut the ribbons to launch the invasions or write their speeches n stuff?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  23rd November 2016

              @G, PZ was talking about who profited, not who did the dirty work. Men always get landed with that in war.

            • Gezza

               /  23rd November 2016

              I rather suspect he’s talking about who’s generally running the organisations at the top on ze beeg salaries rather than the investors.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  23rd November 2016

              @G, I guess that depends on whether you think the men control their wives or vice versa or 50:50. So you are assuming what you are trying to prove.

            • Gezza

               /  23rd November 2016

              I’ve got a bit lost now about which of my comments you’re referring to in that last one one of yours, but I think I might be winning.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  23rd November 2016

              That’s your usual parachute, G. Time to walk the dogs I think.

            • Gezza

               /  23rd November 2016

              Ya know me well, bro. Sounds like a good idea. Enjoy. I am unsure what you mean though.

            • Gezza

               /  23rd November 2016

              Checked your link out Al. Just a press release from a financial services company clearly touting for business and talking about its own ‘research’. No link to the actual data or really any details of the study, or independent review or analysis that I could see. Just skeptical science for me at the moment. You know the score. 👍

            • Anonymous Coward

               /  23rd November 2016

              From reading that the men are getting a bargain giving women control at 78 cents in the dollar, not as cheep as getting someone from China to do it but it looks better, more altruistic.

            • Anonymous Coward

               /  23rd November 2016

              Gazza’s original scepticism still stands though. Both those links are to people selling something, and therefore dubious at best.

            • Anonymous Coward

               /  23rd November 2016

              Highlight from the BMO link “When Wonder Woman was introduced by psychologist William Moulton Marston in 1941…..”
              Marston had two wives and was into BDSM, early Wonder Woman actually reflects that.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  23rd November 2016

              Whatever, it is obvious that women are just as likely to be beneficiaries of war as men.

            • Gezza

               /  23rd November 2016

              Those are some interesting facts & figures Alan – sorry that was lazy of me – but I didn’t see anything that indicated how many women vs men were involved in the controlling boards and management of the military/industrial corporations and related supply, security and infrastructural and resource exploitation & development companies who generally seem to do very well for themselves out of wars and were especially closely associated with that Bush Cartel. Most of that paper & studies seemed to be about women in managerial though not top managerial roles, professions & small to medium businesses. But I think I’ll leave it here because it’s kind of a side track to the post.

            • @ Gezza – ” … kind of a side track …”

              You are the Master of Understatement.

            • Gezza

               /  23rd November 2016

              Cheers PZ, I’ve just added that to my CV. 👍🕶

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  23rd November 2016

      This looks like toxic masculinity though, PZ. I guess it’s caused by colonialism and white mother….s:
      http://www.newshub.co.nz/nznews/hone-harawiras-son-jailed-for-attacking-teen-2016112314

      Reply
      • How the hell do you get home detention for smashing a woman in the face multiple times and then your outstanding fines,15K, and outstanding community services, a few hundred hours, are WIPED as well as part of the sentence???? Really, just really…

        Reply
        • to the plomker with the down tick… you still bashing your woman you pos?

          Reply
          • patupaiarehe

             /  23rd November 2016

            Don’t concern yourself with the ‘stinky thumbs’ Dave. It is the laziest form of trolling, and mentioning it just encourages them.

            Reply
            • patupaiarehe

               /  23rd November 2016

              LOL, see above for evidence 😀

            • Gezza

               /  23rd November 2016

              Nah that one was from me because you did it to me a long time ago and it’s payback time. Memory like a steel trap here. 😃

            • patupaiarehe

               /  23rd November 2016

              I just did it again G. Only because I know you enjoy them as much as I do… 😉

            • Gezza

               /  23rd November 2016

              (I only ever downtick dave when he thoroughly deserves it.)

            • Gezza

               /  23rd November 2016

              Sometimes this utu idea has some appeal.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  23rd November 2016

              Oh, oops G, I thought you meant me 🙂 I stand by my downtick to your comment, simply because I can 😀

            • Gezza

               /  23rd November 2016

              No worries I did mean I downticked you. I didn’t downtick dave because he didn’t thoroughly deserve one. As for you e hoa, I am happily plotting a secret revenge.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  23rd November 2016

      • Gezza

         /  23rd November 2016

        Was disconcerting to see yet another cellphone clip on newshub tonite of what seems be growing female toxicity in some sectors of our society, four girls bashing and kicking a 14 year old girl in Railway station in South Auckland, while the boys just looked on cheering.

        Reply
        • Klik Bate

           /  23rd November 2016

          It wasn’t only the boys ‘looking on’, so did the two Security Guards that were there ❗

          Can’t blame ’em tho – did you see the SIZE of them girls :/

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  23rd November 2016

            Newshub said there was only one security guard, and that he phoned the police. Because, he said, he was outnumbered. And I think he would have been had he tried to intervene. He was obscured, but he looked smaller than most of the kids we could see.

            Reply
      • @ Alan – “I guess it’s caused by colonialism and white mother….s:”

        All that scientific rigour and statistical knowledge of yours foregone in one brief comment Alan … This one example surely proves the theory … Whatever that may be?

        How absolutely negatively masculinely toxic of you …

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  23rd November 2016

          I thought it was quite funny, PZ.

          Reply
          • Yeah … well … perhaps … in a sick sort of way … kinda ‘toxic’ …. actually Nah!

            Let’s face it … You resorted to a bit of regressive Maori bashing to try and “get at me” and simultaneously align yourself with other like-minded toxic Righties on here.

            Sense of humour-wise … Each to his or her own I guess …?

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  23rd November 2016

              Nope, you just blame all negative Maori behaviour and statistics on evil colonialism and its consequences and of course the offender’s dad is famous for his racist obscenity. Whereas it is obviously a splendid home-grown example of the masculine toxicity you blame for most toxic events in the world..

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  23rd November 2016

              I should have added that in no way to I consider the Harawiras representative of all Maori or even a major portion of them.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  23rd November 2016

              .. and that the advocate for visiting the supposed sins of our fathers on us has the actual sins of his son visited on him.

            • Feel free to quote me blaming “all negative Maori behaviour and statistics on evil colonialism and its consequences …”

              The reaction of many Europeans to Muslim immigration gives us a vague idea of what it FEELS like to be colonised Alan …

              Englishmen probably haven’t experienced this since 1066 or perhaps the Catholic/Protestant civil wars, when a new religion was foisted upon them?

              Multiply this feeling by a hundred thousand-fold for indigenous peoples in NZ and the US, a billion-fold in Africa and a trillion-fold in Australia & South America and then run it through 5 – 10 generations …

              So yes, of course it is PART of the equation, part of the problem, and even influences the capacity of individuals to control and/or take responsibility for their own actions. Personal responsibility is absolutely and definitely another PART of the issue … as is the unspoken assumption here that nothing lies between ‘personal’ and ‘societal’ except “the Rule of Law”.

              People generally agree it takes a village to raise a child … Maybe it takes a village to keep human and gender relations on an even keel too … to ameliorate and control toxic masculinity? Just saying …

              Maybe our ‘system’ doesn’t really constitute a village? Or doesn’t by some peoples’ standards?

              So yes, this assault is an expression of individual and cultural toxic masculinity … cultural both Maori and European – toxic New Zealand – but perhaps not Aotearoa New Zealand because that nation does not exist yet …

              Pointing out the personal doesn’t make the colonisation any less toxic.

              Much of colonisation was toxic in the extreme … Wetiko Disease …

              https://unsettlingamerica.wordpress.com/tag/wetiko/

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  24th November 2016

              I think you missed out parental responsibility and influence, PZ, never mind the village. But I don’t want to personalise the issue any further as it’s obviously tragic and horrific for all involved.

              As I said on the Edwards thread, I think we need to focus on identifying an dealing with barriers to entry whether that be to civilised behaviour or well-paid contributions to society. That is where productive solutions lie.

          • There is only “the individual” and “families” eh Alan, as Margaret Thatcher pointed out, no such thing as society … or community … or a village …?

            I did miss out parental responsibility and influence, thanks for reminding me. But “never mind the village” implies you have objected and overruled me. I think not.

            Yes, certainly, “barriers” … I wonder what some of them are? The accepted economic paradigm of ‘scarcity’ and competition perhaps, which destines some to success and dooms many to failure …? Sure, it has its place …

            But as the ethos which rules our lives …? Really!? Market economy becomes Market Society …

            Example: The marketing, regardless of consequence, of evidentially harmful substances like alcohol … How much do you think we would pay for a bottle of plonk if the ‘real cost’ were included in the price?

            “A sensible public conversation about personal responsibility would have to begin by acknowledging the limits of human rationality … the possibility of bad luck can always be subsumed into a rational choice model, leaving us with no one to blame but ourselves …”

            https://bostonreview.net/forum/sweet-forgiveness/limits-personal-responsibility

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  24th November 2016

              FWIW in my values parental responsibility rates well above that of the village – otherwise known as the Government for 90% of the population.

              An open market offers opportunity to all without fear or favour. It is the structure which supports our lives and welfare. Barriers to access may be regulatory, resource, physical, historical or mental.

              I’m not interested in blame, only in proper identification of the problems and the pursuit of best solutions.

            • @ Alan – “An open market offers opportunity to all without fear or favour.”

              Theoretically perhaps, in the metaphysical specula-sphere of Mises, Rothbard, Friedman and their minions; although not “without fear or favour” in an open immigration market as far as I can tell …

              Markets of all kinds are like this. They continually evidence “the limits of human rationality” …

  5. I loved the new word that Gezza coined about “Media Biefings” when you think about it, that is now the norm. They present their reports on something invariably with an interpretation of what occurred and then spend the majority of their “article” beefing about other aspects of the situation. I think BIEFINGS should replace ‘NEW TRUTHS” in the vocabulary!

    Reply
  6. I love it. Brilliant. Right on the money. And Partizan approves of it!!!! Will that means it has to be bonifide!

    /Sarc

    Reply
    • Yes dave, ‘Right’ on the money! Leastwise, it certainly seems to have brought out the masculine toxicity in you …?

      Not even an acknowledgement for brevity … and I only expended four words …

      Me …. Four words … do you know what an achievement that is!?

      Us harmless, wholesome guys just can’t win …

      Reply
  7. patupaiarehe

     /  23rd November 2016

    IMHO, anyone who desires to express power over another has a psychological problem. In my experience, you get far better results by working with people, rather than against them. Women, workmates, whoever. Perhaps the reason that those who seek to ‘dominate’ end up with psychological problems, is due to frustration at others resistance to their bad behaviour.
    You catch far more bees with honey, than vinegar…

    Reply
    • “IMHO, anyone who desires to express power over another has a psychological problem. In my experience, you get far better results by working with people, rather than against them. ”

      Yes, very much so.

      Reply
      • patupaiarehe

         /  23rd November 2016

        Some people enjoy seeing people fail, and some enjoy helping others to succeed. I enjoy adhering to the latter philosophy.

        Reply
  8. Anyone that gets the slightest joy out of someone else’s failure has lost sight of why we are here. To respond to the inevitable question, we are here to contribute what we are able to achieve to the benefit of all mankind (thats inclusive of all genders) and to enjoy the fruits of the labour of others while pursuing a balanced loving, happy and sharing approach to all living creatures. The funny thing about it is that you only get one chance at life, you can look back and regret your stupidities, or learn the lessons and enjoy the present and the prospect of the future while applying what you learned from life’s lessons.

    Leadership can be learned, though some are born to lead, being blessed with “mana”. Democratic leadership recognises that no person has a monopoly of the truth, and in any group there are others who have more knowledge and expertise in certain areas. A good leader knows his people and their talents and provides them with the opportunity to take the lead. The dictatorial approach to leadership finally was repudiated during the First World War where finally the “do as I order or die” approach resulted in so many casualties that the troops revolted and followed the natural leaders who used their initiative and sought out different approaches, like stealth and night attacks.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  24th November 2016

      “A good leader knows his people and their talents and provides them with the opportunity to take the lead.”
      Or her people. And Good leaders know their leadership depends on the respect and consent and cooperation of their people and provide them with their wisdom and the opportunity to flourish.

      Reply
    • I like what you say BJ, truly. Nicely put … and people accuse me of Utopian idealism …

      So how does the first half of your first paragraph, “for the benefit of all mankind (thats inclusive of all genders)” equate with the ‘dog eat dog’ system we have constructed for ourselves? It’s ameliorated in Aotearoa NZ by ‘austerity social welfare’ but its still essentially a race-class inequality paradigm.

      And, following say the battle for Saipan in July 1944, how do the Iwo Jima & Okinawa campaigns in Feb & April 1945 equate with the second half of your second paragraph, your claim that “The dictatorial approach to leadership finally was repudiated during the First World War” when it resulted in too many casualties? (or is it only too many casualties if the troops actually revolt?)

      Or were the casualties at Iwo and Okinawa “acceptable losses”?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Iwo_Jima
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Okinawa#Military_losses

      Reply
      • @ BJ – “the troops revolted and followed the natural leaders who used their initiative”

        You actually make it sound like the martial offence of ‘insubordination’ or wilfully disobeying orders is a desirable thing …?

        Interestingly, insubordinate behaviour has correlations in the economy, industry and civil law enforcement and justice, e.g. failing to obey a police order …

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insubordination

        Some interesting examples on that link … Hunter S Thompson, Jeffrey Wigand et al …

        Reply
      • I talked with the surviving Marines at the battle of Tarawa 50th Anniversary as we replicated the journey onto Betio at HHr. They were mainly 80 year old veterans. I asked them how it was that they were able to assault in the face of Japanese direct fire weapons firing on fixed lines over the whole approach. The Marines smiled and said it was our training that saved us, we knew we had to achieve a bridge head in order to win the battle. I was talking to the older brother of the Marine who go his amphibious armoured vehicle onto the base of Betio and directed covering fire while the Marines waded ashore because their landing craft had been held up on the coral reef. That was the calibre of the men who fought right through the chain of islands in the Micronesian states, Marshall Islands, Ponhpei, Palau (Koror) ,Yap , Guam and onto the Marianas, Guam and Saipan, Iwa Jima, and then the US dropped the Bombs on homeland Japan. Those Marines set the standard for amphibious operations in the Pacific and learned how not to do it on Tarawa but they prevailed. I hosted the 2nd Marine Division Commander and the veterans of those battles for a beerbecue with smoked yellow fin tuna with a hot thai chilli sauce, and listened to the veterans catchup with their surviving comrades. It was very humbling for me to realise that I was standing on the shoulders of giants.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  24th November 2016

          My mum never forgot a young US Marine on R&R in Wellington during the war. “I just wanna go home”, he told her. But he went back to the Pacific into those terrible battles and she never heard if he made it home.

          Reply
  9. Alan, do you know his name? I was given a Marine Corp History of the battle for the Pacific by the US Defence Attache at the 50th Anniversary. It has a lot of photos in it, and who knows?

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  24th November 2016

      No, she never told me that. I think she was just talking to him one evening.

      Reply

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