Friday, April 4, 2014

Men's Issues

Men’s Issues
Men in our society are often socialized to follow a very rigid, traditional script with regard to the role they are supposed to play and how they are supposed to act. Men are socialized to believe they should be highly independent, to seek ways of gaining and maintaining power in the world, to be tough, to conceal emotions (except for anger), and to engage in non-relational sex. Men often experience significant stress in their attempts to live up to the standards set by society. Problems arise when males internalize stereotyped societal norms around gender ideals that are often contradictory, inconsistent, and unattainable.

Research shows that rigid enactment of traditional male gender role socialization is a negative influence on well-being, and that the conflict that arises when men fail in their efforts to live up to this “script” is predictive of psychological distress. Research also suggests that the more one endorses stereotypical masculine beliefs, the less willing they are to seek help. Two thirds of those seeking mental health services are female and over the course of one’s lifetime 1 in 3 women seek services as compared to 1 in 7 men. In other words, some of the men who are most in need of help are also the least likely to seek it out.

There are things we as individuals might do that unintentionally foster traditional gender roles. Do you, perhaps without even realizing it: assume that a man who chooses other than a traditional masculine role is somehow lacking? Encourage a stance of independence and a distancing of emotions and feelings in relationships? Alienate men by associating the ability to give care with weakness? Encourage and model autonomy, success, and competition? Leave unchallenged the exaggerated relationship between male sexual power and feelings of personal meaning and importance in one’s life? Be aware of your own stereotypes and biases and consider that one’s internalized gender ideology can change and that you can help the men you know progress from traditional to less restrictive and sexist views.