It’s 2021, and we’re proud to say that, while there is still huge room for improvement, we have come a long way in the representation of masculinity. But in a society like ours, falling into toxic traits can be too easy – and a hard hole to dig yourself out of.
A new report, published by the Duke University, claims that in society younger men are more likely to be triggered when their manhood is threatened, as their masculinity depends heavily on other people’s opinions.
“Our results suggest that the more social pressure a man feels to be masculine, the more aggressive he may be,” said Adam Stanaland, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology and public policy at Duke and the study’s lead author.
“When those men feel they are not living up to strict gender norms, they may feel the need to act aggressively to prove their manhood — to ‘be a man’.”
As part of the study a group of 195 undergraduate students and a random pool of 391 men aged 18 to 56 were asked a series of questions about “gender knowledge” on stereotypical topics like sports, auto mechanics and home repair. After answering, participants were randomly told their score was either higher or lower than that of an average person of their gender.
Researchers then told the men who received a low score they were “less manly than the average man” and assessed their state of mind through a quiz.
On completing the quiz, the men whose sense of masculinity came from within seemed unruffled by receiving a low score, while the men with a more ‘fragile sense of masculinity’ answered the quiz by creating words with violent associations rather than neutral meanings. The study designers even received violent threats from some men who received low scores — further evidence that the study hit a nerve.
When the researchers assessed the age groups, they found that the aggressive responses were strongest among the youngest study participants, men between 18 and 29 years old, while the response became milder the older they were.
“It’s clear that younger men are more sensitive to threats against their masculinity,” Stanaland said.
“In those years, as men attempt to find or prove their place in society, their masculine identity may be more fragile. In many places, this means that younger men are hit constantly with threats to their manhood. They have to prove their manhood every day of their lives.”
The study rings true to the sentiment that the environment we create for our sons is incredibly important in the long run, and that it is never too early to educate and inform young men.
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