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American men are struggling and prone to more extremist views

Masculinity

A new survey by Equimundo says that men are struggling with their mental health and leaning more towards misogynistic ideology in their confused and alienated states...so what can be done?

A new survey of American men by the international gender equality and social justice organisation, Equimundo, has revealed some shocking results. Not only are men struggling more than ever, but they are backing away from gender equality; with younger man in particular embracing ant-feminist voices like Andrew Tate.

In the survey, titled the ‘State of American Men’, 44 percent of men reported suicidal thoughts and 48 percent saying their online life is better than their day to day life.

Amid this unhappiness, nearly half of the respondents – 46 percent – said a man should really be the one to bring home the money to provide for their families, not women. And 41 percent said a man should always have the final say about decisions in his relationship.

These findings come as conservatives like Tate and Jordan Peterson who draw millions of online followers are complaining that American men are “weak” and “feminine.” Tate in particular has captured the attention of young male social media user, both in the US and over here in the UK. The misogynistic ‘influencer’, currently under house arrest in Romania under suspicion of rape and human trafficking, is pushing extreme traditionalist views of men and women that is worrying parents and educators.

Whether it is Tate or the stressful conditions under which men are living – due to social, online and economic circumstances – that is behind this backward step in gender views is unclear, but according to Equimundo president and CEO Gary Barker, what is clear is that, “American parents and educators urgently need to promote healthy masculinity.”

More key findings of the survey:

Misogynist Influencers are Successfully Winning Over Many Men to Harmful Ideologies

  • Some restrictive views about manhood are more widely held among young men in 2023 than in 2017
  • 40% of all men say they trust one or more “men’s rights,” anti-feminist or pro-violence voices (Andrew Tate, Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and others). Nearly half (46%) of younger men say they trust at least one of those voices or groups.
  • 41% agree that on the whole, men make better business executives than women

“Conservative influencers are making an unprecedented effort to push men into a sexist mindset – I call it ‘the manhood divide,’” Barker said. “Even the men who embrace healthy views of masculinity feel pressure to embrace an unhealthy idea of what it means to be a man.”

Men Struggle with Isolation and Online Dependence

  • Two-thirds of men (66%) think they should spend less time on the phone or online.
  • 48% of men say their online lives are more engaging and rewarding than their offline lives
  • Only 22% of men have three or more people in their local area they feel close to or depend on
  • 40% of men believe they should figure out their personal problems on their own without asking others for help
  • 47% believe their “best years of life” are behind them
  • 41% of men said during childhood they felt that no one in their family loved them or thought they were important or special some of the time, and 16.7% all of the time.

Many Young Men Are Doing Worse, Not Better

  • Younger men show the highest levels of depressive symptoms and suicidal intention
  • 18-23 year old men have the least optimism about their futures, and the lowest levels of social support, or someone they trust and rely on
  • Almost 30% of younger men reported not spending any time with someone outside their household in the past week

Men with rigid/traditional views on the role of men and women are more likely to have thought about suicide in the past two weeks than those with less rigid views.

You can read the full Equimundo report here, and it really is fascinating, and alarming reading. And notably, it comes with notes of hope and recommended measures to improve the well being of men with healthier masculinities which have gender equality at the heart.

Here are some of their key recommendations to tackle the issues above:

How to Move to a Broader Acceptance of Healthy Masculinity

  1. Start young. Engage parents in supporting boys to be connecting, caring and equitable. Parents are key and necessary allies in working with sons and daughters from early ages in mitigating online harms and in calling their sons off of the internet and into off-line relational literacy.
  2. Engage the media including the online gaming space and the internet in general as allies for healthy masculinity. Online services and the video game industry must be held accountable for their role in fostering or allowing harmful voices to proliferate. They also must be allies in creating solutions, presenting stories and spaces for healthy manhood to counter the steady stream of violent manhood that too often prevails.
  3. Engage workplace and corporate leadership in true male allyship in their DEI programs. Too often such programs for engaging men are one-off, and lack clear and measurable outcomes. Such programs show promise when long-enough, structural enough and when they provide clear guides and expectations of how men can be allies for gender equality and healthy masculinities.

Gary Barker explained, “It shouldn’t be about pitting men against women when the data is so clear that we all benefit from a more equal world.”

 

Equimundo: Center for Masculinities and Social Justice has worked internationally and in the US since 2011 to engage men and boys as allies in gender equality, promote healthy manhood, and prevent violence. Equimundo works to achieve gender equality and social justice by transforming intergenerational patterns of harm and promoting patterns of care, empathy and accountability among boys and men throughout their lives. 

This nationwide survey of 2,022 American men aged 18-45 was conducted by RepData in January, 2023, with a margin of error of +/- 2.2% for findings relying on the full sample. Margin of error may vary for findings broken out into subgroups of respondents.

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