Unpacking the ‘man box’ – Australian researchers release study findings on masculinity





Australian researchers have released a report from a study investigating masculinity and young men’s attitudes (The Men’s Project and Flood, 2018). This was the first study that focused specifically on the associations between attitudes to manhood or masculinity and the behaviours of Australian men aged 18-30. It involved a representative online survey of 1,000 young men from across the country.

Two thirds of young men said that since they were a boy they had been told a “real man” behaves in a certain way. While young men’s personal views are more progressive than what society is telling them, there was a substantial minority (around 30 percent)  who endorsed most of the Man Box rules.

The seven main man box rules were: 

Self sufficiency: men who talk about their worries too much shouldn’t get respect

Acting tough: if a man doesn’t fight back, he is weak

Physical attractiveness: a successful man must look good, but if a man spends too much time on his appearance that is unmanly

Rigid masculine gender roles: cooking, sewing or providing care of young children is not manly

Hypersexuality: a real man should have as many sexual partners as possible and he doesn’t say no to sex

Heterosexuality and homophobia: ‘real men’ are not gay and heterosexual men do not have gay male friends

Aggression and control: men should use violence to get respect if necessary

This study quantifies the unique influence of young men’s personal endorsement of the Man Box masculinity pillars on different areas of their lives, including:  mental health, wellbeing and help seeking from friends/professionals;  body satisfaction;  relationship satisfaction;  binge drinking;  traffic accidents; accessing pornography; and physical violence, sexual harassment  and bullying.

You can find out more and access the report here.