Negative effects of gender expectations on men
November 19, 2020
“Be brave”, “Boys don’t cry”, “Man up” predefine to a great extent the parental education towards our sons as they grow up. We might think that this is normal but “normal” often originates from “norms” which are traditionally and gradually set in the history of the western culture and society. That same culture seems to impose stereotypes for masculinity like toughness, rationality, competitiveness, and dominance which, as a result, often promote violence, sexual aggression, and emotional suppression in men’s behavior. Such behavior in the end appears to be harmful for men themselves and not only for the people around them.
Statistical data in recent years supports the thesis that suicide and violent crimes affect predominantly men. According to Mental Health organization, men accounted for three-quarters of the UK deaths by suicide in 2018 and in America the same organization reports that more than 4 times as many men as women die by suicide. These negative statistics show that men commit nearly 90% of violent crimes in the United States and represent 77% of homicide victims.
Stereotypes in general are widely held beliefs and generalizations which tend to shape self-perception, impact our attitudes to relationships and affect our behavior in our social life. But stereotypes are limiting and not necessarily valid for all people. Therefore, embracing a stereotype can hinder us in expressing our true nature and strengths which in turn could threaten our mental health.
Psychologists express the opinion that some of the problems like alcohol and drugs abuse and even experiencing higher stress levels can originate in men’s endeavors to blindly stick to such masculinity norms like self-reliance and emotional suppression. Combined with men’s reluctance to show weakness and seek help through therapy, it increases the risk of suffering from depression and even committing suicide. Obviously simply obeying such cultural norms could put our health at risk.
We are about to rethink our perceptions of masculinity. It is no surprise that in a recent article about the future of masculinity Forbes focused on “overcoming stereotypes”. And fortunately, in recent years we are starting to observe a positive tendency to shift the old beliefs. Toward a new masculinity where men practice a better balance between paid work and time spent with their loved ones, willingness to seek help and health care and being emotionally connected.
By Hristo Nikolov
Professional, Purchasing at Ingram Micro