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How do we define masculinity?

With International Men's Day 19th November focused on men's and boy's health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models, we take a look at differing views on masculinity in today's society.

Arguably society has developed a set view of what makes a masculine man. Over the decades, this idea has shifted and changed with the trends and in a more modern society, one single idea of masculinity is doing more harm than good.

A recent survey from Crown Clinic, asked 1000 members of the UK’s general public, what they thought the key traits of masculinity were. The results showed the differences in perceptions of masculinity, between males and females and even generational differences.       

65% of men feel they need to have a thick skin to be considered masculine     

Being thick-skinned and keeping emotions at bay is seen as a key trait of masculinity by 65% of men, however, only around 35% of women feel the same way.

This belief amongst UK males is proving to have a negative impact on male mental health, with only around 36% of therapy referrals being male.

The mainstream media regularly reports on the unachievable ideal that surrounds how women look and act, but rarely ever address the issue that preconceived notions around masculinity has on males.  

Women feel sensitivity is a sign of masculinity

Women have expressed that more emotional openness and ability to express how they feel is a better representation of masculinity. This belief directly contradicts that of males, with 54% of males expressing that a non-emotional approach makes them more masculine.

This is also seen through different generations, with those above the age of 55 citing that being non-emotional and thick skinned isn’t as important when it comes to being a masculine man.

Older generations put more weight into emotional openness and competitiveness

When it comes to what is important within masculinity, the older generations said traits like competitiveness made a bigger impact than lack of sensitivity.

Only 7.5% of females aged 65+ said that being non-emotional made a man more masculine and only 3.4% of females aged 55-64 said that being thick-skinned was a trait of masculinity.

An interesting find from the survey, shows males between the ages 25-34 see being aggressive as a key masculine trait, with only 2.5% of males aged 65+ saying that being aggressive made them more masculine.

This gives us an insight into how social and cultural beliefs and trends may affect the way we see masculinity. Only 19% of 18-24 year olds recognised aggression as being masculine, which may allude to the current campaigns and awareness to change the way we think about masculinity.

This survey helps to identify key changes in what we see as masculine and highlights how masculinity isn’t set in stone. The ideals and traits change over time, mirroring social changes and beliefs and that in 20+ years time, the current idea of what makes ‘a man’ will no longer be relevant.

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