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harassers

Beliefs In Pain

Bullies & Harassers Are More Likely To Have Mental Health Issues

Masculinity

A new study by Pittsburgh University has made a link between a belief in masculine stereotypes, destructive behaviour and poor mental health.

Researchers at the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Promundo-US (an organisation educating boys around the world in promoting gender equality), have found men who have stereotypical attitudes about masculine behaviour – including a belief in violence and homophobia – are more likely to indulge in bullying, sexual harassment, depression and suicidal thoughts.

It supports the idea that beliefs that men should behave a certain way – rather than any inherent tendencies – leads to not just damaging behaviours towards others but also creates serious mental health problems in the men who believe in them.

Using the ‘Man Box’ scale developed by Promundo in which subjects are asked to define what characteristics think society wants from men – which go into the man box. Clinicians measured subjects’ attitudes by monitoring their strongest associations to phrases such as:

 

  • A man shouldn’t have to do household chores.
  • Men should use violence to get respect if necessary.
  • A real man should have as many sexual partners as he can.
  • A man who talks a lot about his worries, fears and problems shouldn’t really get respect.
  • A gay guy is not a “real man.”

 

The study found those subjects who most scored highest on the Man Box scale – by endorsing those stereotyped behaviours – were up to 5 times more likely to engage in online or offline bullying, and sexual harassment, and twice as likely to suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts.

Amber Hill from the University of Pittsburgh leading the study said, “These findings highlight how detrimental harmful masculinities can be to the people who endorse them, as well as their peers, families and communities at large.”

Gary Barker from Promundo added, “We have found a way to measure the concept of the ‘Man Box’ which allows us to clearly see that when men embrace stereotypical ideas about manhood, they’re also more likely to harm the well-being of others, as well as impact their own health in adverse ways.”

This of course, leads into ideas that unpicking assumptions of what a man should or shouldn’t be, is vital when dealing with many of the gender-based problems in society and also men’s own mental health issues. Put simply, the old school pressures around ‘Being a Man’ are dangerous and need to change.

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