One study has found that sexism is ruining male psychic health.
Researchers at Bloomington University in Indiana and Nanyang University of Technology in Singapore conducted a meta-analysis of 78 studies and found something disturbing: Traditional male traits, particularly those that can be classified as sexist, have a profoundly negative effect on men.
Increasingly, masculinity is a difficult concept to define. You can list traits and qualities, but much of this can be stopped with a “Wait, and how is that endemic in men?” In a meta-analysis, the researchers managed to sketch a picture of what is considered masculinity, but the results were not very encouraging.
In short, many of a man’s ideas of what a man is are ruinous to his mental health.
The researchers examined 78 studies that included a total of 19,453 participants and identified a set of male traits, such as: the will to win, the need for emotional control, risky behavior, violence, dominance, sexual promiscuity, independence, power over women, disdain for homosexuality and pursuit of status.
All had consistent negative effects on men’s mental health, but three stood out in particular: independence, sexual promiscuity and power over women. This independence can be overcome with increasing interdependence and closer links. But the other traits are noteworthy in that they are seen as “sexist” in the modern era.
“Maybe 30 years ago it was possible for a man to behave in a sexist way, say inappropriate things and get away with it,” says Y. Joel Wong of Bloomington University in Indiana to Popular Science. “People suffered in silence and did not speak, but that changed a lot.”
There is no doubt that many people – men and women included – feel that men must (or are biologically inclined to) think and behave in a certain way. As Wong mentioned, if in the past these behaviors were not challenged, they now suffer repercussions. And if you think there are no men who suffer from the way they are, the way they should be, think twice.
“Suffering in silence” seems to be the reason behind the negative repercussions. Many men feel the pressure to meet these traits, but there is no great support system to help them. In fact, looking for help is not seen as masculine and given the mental effects confirmed by the studies, it is clear that most men believe in this masculine ideals.
“There is a gap between what men believe and do and what men think they believe and think they do.”