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Men who believe that masculinity is toxic or harmful have lower self-esteem and worse metal health than men who embrace their masculinity and see it as a good thing

January 27, 2021

Psychology has historically done a poor job studying men and masculinity. At best it strives for a one size fits all approach, and at worse it has tried to contextualize everything through the eyes of women and femininity.

In such a model, men are treated as if they were defective women. The belief is that they suffer from mental health problems in part because they are men, or because masculinity has harmful or toxic elements to it.

It turns out though that men who adopt these beliefs actually have worse mental health than men who embrace their masculinity and see it as a good thing. In addition they have worse relationships with women, with their families, their friends, and they engage in drug use and alcohol more often than men who reject this view.

Obviously this is just a correlation. But given the APA's formal (and dare I say toxic) stance on masculinity, I think there are things that we're not looking at right now.

Men cry less because they deal with things differently than women, not because they're repressing their emotions. And those differences might be productive and healthy for them.

The key to better mental health for men might be a healthy respect for masculinity, not a shunning of it. Instead of trying to redefine masculinity, we should work to understand it better, and offer better services for men based on an honest acknowledgement that men's and women's mental health might require different approaches.

Men are not "defective women", and treating men's mental health in that context does not seem to be working very well.

A few sources (with quotes):

The other dogma, Pinker argued, 'is that repressing emotions is bad and expressing them is good – a folk theory with roots in romanticism, Freudian psychoanalysis, and Hollywood, but which is contradicted by a large literature showing that people with greater self-control, particularly those who repress anger rather than “venting,” lead healthier lives: they get better grades, have fewer eating disorders, drink less, have fewer psychosomatic aches and pains, are less depressed, anxious, phobic, and paranoid, have higher self-esteem, are more conscientious, have better relationships with their families, have more stable friendships, are less likely to have sex they regretted, and are less likely to imagine themselves cheating in a monogamous relationship.’

Further analysis using multiple linear regression found that men’s self-esteem was significantly predicted by older age, more education, and a greater acceptance of traditional masculinity. Men’s mental positivity – which is known to be negatively correlated with suicidality – was significantly predicted by older age, a greater acceptance of traditional masculinity, and more education.

When in distress, women tend to want to talk about their feelings whereas men tend to want to fix whatever is causing the distress (Holloway et al. 2018). However our mental health services are delivered in a “gender blind” way, so that treatment options that might suit men better are rarely considered (Liddon et al. 2017).

In addition, the APA has discovered that "many men report experiencing gender bias in therapy" and "investigations have identified systemic gender bias toward adult men in psychotherapy". So maybe if our mental health services viewed masculinity in a better light, men would receive better care.

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Title Men who believe that masculinity is toxic or harmful have lower self-esteem and worse metal health than men who embrace their masculinity and see it as a good thing
Author Oncefa2
Upvotes 197
Comments 60
Date January 27, 2021 3:52 PM UTC (2 years ago)
Subreddit /r/LeftWingMaleAdvocates
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