MEN who harbour harmful attitudes about masculinity such as their beliefs about violence suffer from poor mental health, experts have revealed.
Researchers used a scale to measure themes such as self-sufficiency, acting tough, masculine gender roles, control and physical attractiveness.
The study is based on the “Man Box” scale developed in the US.
The scale was developed to help end violence and to measure harmful stereotypes about masculinity – the more you agreed with the statements the higher your score would be.
To help experts monitor the attitudes of the men, the researchers developed five key points that had associations with both violence and mental health.
Men who had more mental health problems and tendencies to be violent were found to have the following views:
- A man shouldn’t have to do household chores.
- Men should use violence to get respect if necessary.
- A real man should have as many sexual partners as he can.
- A man who talks a lot about his worries, fears and problems shouldn’t really get respect.
- A gay guy is not a “real man.”
Researchers at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Promundo-US used data from 3,600 men aged between 18-30.
The study found that men who displayed more behaviours from the Man Box scale were associated with five times higher rates of verbal, physical or online abuse and bullying as well as sexual harassment.
Experts also highlighted that it was these men who were twice as likely to experience depression or suicidal thoughts.
Lead author Amber Hill said: “These findings highlight how detrimental harmful masculinities can be to the people who endorse them, as well as their peers, families and communities at large.
“It’s important to remember that individuals of all genders are influenced and impacted by the heteronormative society that we live in.”
The original “Act Like a Man” box was developed by Paul Kirkvel in the 1980s and stated stereotypical roles that society thinks men should have.
These included stating that men were: mean, bullies, violent, bread winners, tough, angry, active, strong, successful, in control of women.
It also stated that these men would usually have feelings or anger, shame or confusion.
Elizabeth Miller chief of adolescent and young adult medicine at UPMC Children’s Hospital said: “While there has been a lot of discussion around harmful masculinities in the media and in the research community, no one has agreed on a standardised way to measure the concept.”
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The Act Like a Man Box activity has been popularised in various Ted Talks.
A 2018 study by the American Psychological Association (APA) has previously reacted to evidence that men who align with stronger masculine norms often have poorer health outcomes.
In addition research showed that boys and men, like girls and women are affected by the society they are raised in which can impact them in later life.
Gary Barker of Promudo said the Man Box allows researchers to see when men embrace stereotypical ideas about manhood – they are more likely to harm the wellbeing of others as well as impact their own health.
He added: “As health care providers, researchers and public health workers, we now have a valid tool in our pockets to help us measure progress toward changing harmful stereotypes and advancing both gender equality and healthier versions of masculinity.”
Source: The Sun