Women are not the only ones affected by sexism and toxic masculinity. Turns out, men who see themselves as playboys and feel validated by wielding power over women are more likely to develop mental health problems.
A fascinating large-scale study, conducted by a team at Indiana University Bloomington, found that men who conform more to traditionally masculine norms are more prone to experience depression and loneliness. Due to their pride and perceived idea of manliness, these men are also unable to seek psychological help.
“The masculine norms of playboy and power over women are the norms most closely associated with sexist attitudes,” the authors wrote in the Journal of Counseling Psychology. “The robust and unfavorable association between conformity to these two norms and mental health-related outcomes underscores the idea that sexism is not merely a social injustice, but also has deleterious mental health-related consequences for those who embrace such attitudes.”
To come to this conclusion, the researchers, analyzed data from 74 studies involving around 19,500 (mostly white) male participants. They then measured how strongly men conformed to traits linked to traditional masculinity — for instance, winning, emotional control, risk-taking, violence, dominance, sexual promiscuity (playboy behavior), self-reliance, primacy of work (importance placed on one's job), power over women, disdain for homosexuals and pursuit of status.
It turned out, the more a man conformed to masculine norms — particularly self-reliance, playboy behavior and power over women — the more likely he was to have poorer mental health. Men with such attitudes were more also more likely to suffer from loneliness, anger and trouble socializing. Sadly, they are also less likely to seek help for their issues, which just makes matters even worse.
“In general, individuals who conformed strongly to masculine norms tended to have poorer mental health and less favorable attitudes toward seeking psychological help, although the results differed depending on specific types of masculine norms,” explained lead author Y. Joel Won.
Since the president-elect demonstrated the same masculine traits likely to harm mental health, Wong (and all of the America) is concerned some men would take Trump's unexpected victory as proof that blatant sexism might actually work to their advantage.
“Much of what this study unpacks is what a lot of us have known, perhaps anecdotally and through our own life experiences, for a long time,” said Andrew Reiner, a professor at Towson University. “The more that men of all ages insulate themselves in traditional and, especially, hyper-masculine norms, the more they wrap themselves in behavior that distances themselves from their deeper emotional honesty and needs. This kind of behavior, especially the old Marlboro-Man-rugged-individualist ethos, distances men in their relationships with women, with other men and with, most poignantly, themselves. It encourages an emotional, and ultimately physical, isolation because it teaches men that — if they’re going to earn their Man Card — then they need to handle all of life’s problems on their own.”
In other words, gender roles hurt us all, not just women.