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.