Australian psychologists are down on "Traditional Masculinity" too
The most substantial piece of evidence from Australia for the criticisms is the "Man Box" study mentioned below. It is a colourfully presented "report", not a refereed academic journal article. And that shows. It is not as bad as some such reports in that some care was taken with the sampling and conventional statistical significance was observed but it is basically crap. Let me say in detail why:
For a start, no factor analysis of the questions asked is offered. So is there in fact such a thing as a "man box"? We do not know. A strong first eigenvector would have reassured us but we are not told of one. I once did a survey of allegedly female attitudes (The BSRI) which found the attitudes concerned not to be characteristic of Australian females. They were not sex-polarized at all. So are we sure that the man box attitudes are in fact characteristic of Australian male attitudes? We cannot assume it. Were there similar attitudes among women?
And encompassing the man box questions within a larger survey was not done. Doing so might have revealed that the questions had a larger identity. For instance, many of the questions seem to me to be rather like assertiveness questions, and assertiveness is usually praised. There certainly should have been some attempt to distinguish the "bad" man box questions from assertiveness. Could some man box attitudes be good?
And the selection of man box attitudes was also tendentious. Traditional male attitudes do for instance include courtesy towards women. To this day I hold car doors open for women but that is only a trivial thing. There is also a strong traditional male inhibition against hitting women, for instance. Feminists are much concerned about domestic violence so should they encourage traditional male attitudes of courtesy and restraint towards women? Nothing like that was examined in the survey, funnily enough.
And what about the traditional male attitude that self-sacrifice is noble? What about the times when men have sacrificed themselves to save women -- in an emergency situation such as a sinking ship? Is that noble or foolish? Sane women would hope it is noble but there is no mention of such nobility in the man box. The whole conception of the man box is thoroughly bigoted from the get-go.
But the most deplorable omission in the research is a complete failure to apply any demographic controls. They apparently had demographic data but did not use it to segment their sample. One does wonder why. Were the results of such segmentation too embarrassing? Were man box attitudes almost exclusively working class for instance? From my own extensive background in survey research, I suspect it. I always looked at demographic correlates of the attitudes I examined and social class variables were often significant.
And one social class variable that they would have avoided studying at all costs is the dreaded IQ. Yet IQ is powerfully correlated with an amazing array of other variables. In this case it could even explain some male/female differences. Why, for instance, do men on average die earlier than women? The research below says it is because of their bad male attitudes but there is another explanation. Male IQ is more variable than female IQ. There are more brilliant males but also more spectacularly dumb males. And, for various reasons, IQ is significantly correlated with health. So it is likely that most of the males who die young were simply dumb. They did more silly and dangerous things, for instance.
All in all the report is just a piece of feminist propaganda designed to fool the general public. I am guessing that they had no expectation that it might come under the scrutiny of an experienced survey researcher
Traditional masculinity has been labelled “harmful” in a major move by a health body, linked with high rates of suicide and violence.
The American Psychological Association released a report last week, citing more than 40 years of research on the issue of “masculine ideology” — a step praised by Australian experts.
“Traditional masculinity ideology has been shown to limit males’ psychological development, constrain their behaviour, result in gender role strain and gender role conflict and negatively influence mental health and physical health,” it said.
Increasingly referred to as “toxic masculinity”, traditional ideals surrounding manhood are usually toughness, aggression, a suppression of emotion, dominance and stoicism.
Queensland University of Technology sociologist Michael Flood said some of the ways boys are raised can have “significant costs” for the community.
Across the country today, an estimated six men will take their own lives — three times the number of women to die by suicide.
“There’s growing recognition that norms of masculinity in many ways are limiting for men themselves,” Dr Flood told news.com.au.
“Going along with traditional masculine beliefs increases the risk of suicide — there have been studies to indicate that. If you think being a man means not asking for help or not showing pain, being a John Wayne character and going it alone, you can’t cope when things are hard.”
Traditional masculinity has a place in a number of scenarios, Dr Flood said, where a number of those qualities can be very useful. “Being tough and stoic are exactly the qualities you need if you’re fighting a fire or something like that, but once it’s over, you need other qualities,” he said.
“Some of those men (without) are poorer at some of the qualities that many people recognise are important in contemporary relationships — communication, emotional expression.”
There’s growing recognition in the fields of men’s mental health, education and the prevention of violence against women and children that “the norms of masculinity” can be harmful.
“Unless we tackle this, we’ll continue to see large numbers of men turning up in hospitals, being assaulted, committing suicide, and suffering in silence and so on,” Dr Flood said.
Criticisms from some segments of the community that the discussion about toxic masculinity is an attack on men are unfounded, he said.
“We need to distinguish between men and masculinity. The attack on the narrow messaging is not an attack on men. This is driven by a concern for men.”
Dr Flood was involved in the groundbreaking Man Box study last year, which found that young Australian men who oversubscribe to traditional notion of masculinity had poorer health and wellbeing outcomes.
“We also found that many of them have poorer relationships with others and were more likely to be involved in violence,” he said.
Of those surveyed — a cohort of 1000 men aged 18 to 30 — 69 per cent felt society expected them to act strong and 56 per cent felt being a man meant never saying no to sex.
Another 36 per cent agreed that society pressures them to shun friendships with gay men and 38 per cent thought boys shouldn’t learn how to cook and clean.