The Paradox of Toxic Masculinity

Men with toxic beliefs report being more satisfied with their lives — but what’s the real truth?

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash
  • Acting tough — men should fight against those who push them around and should always act strong.
  • Physical attractiveness — your looks play a major role in success, however spending effort on your appearance is unattractive to women and not masculine.
  • Gender roles — men should be the financial provider and should not be cooking, cleaning, or taking care of children.
  • Homophobia — gay men are not real men, but it is okay to befriend them to show that they are not a threat to your masculinity
  • Hypersexuality — men should have as many sexual partners as possible and never turn down sex.
  • Aggression and control — men should use violence to get respect if necessary. Men should have the final say in their marriage and always should know where their wife/girlfriend is located.

The paradox

Should that claim be taken at face value? After all, the facet of self-sufficiency states that men should never talk about their problems or ask for help. Can we trust men deep in the Man Box to properly report their life satisfaction?

Perpetrators and victims

To look even further into the phenomenon, researchers at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh used the data from Promundo-US to discover the effects of toxic masculinity on behavior and mood.

Breaking the box

While men in the Man Box may broadly report that they are satisfied with life, the data and research show that there are many negative effects of holding toxic masculine beliefs. Men in the Man Box are more likely to participate in risky behaviors, bully others, be victims of bullying, and have suicidal thoughts. They are also less likely to have close friendships and relationships.

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