MINUTES 20.03.19

-changed the question
-shared idea of masculinity?
-how do your slides contribute to the overall argument of the presentation?
-bring it back o the initial question
-20 minute presentation 10 minute q&a

-are you able to justify it as an interdisciplinary problem?
-its good to mention interdisciplinarity
-reflect on the interdisciplinary aspect in the end (in the future recommendations bit)
-how did it being interdisciplinary help your research

-make sure we stick to the time
-how do we synthesise? Ultimately our findings are “……..”

-what do we mean by mainstream
-define mainstream in the introduction

-who will answer what question

-re:blog, reflection on where you are now compared to the beginning, reflection on how the topic has changed

Reflections upon our project

Our project began out of an interest in exploring assumptions surrounding gender stereotypes and the uncertainties that are produced by having fixed representations of maleness portrayed in mainstream media. We quickly settled on focusing our research on male mental health, as we were all concerned about the current male mental health crisis and believed that the fixed gender stereotypes that the media reinforces, may be negatively impacting male mental health and contributing to this mental health crisis. Whilst this broad framework still captures the contours set for our discussion, the expectations I held for what our research would demonstrate were not entirely confirmed. After analysing masculinity through media and literary representations and analysing psychological studies, gendered health care reports we have found that whilst masculinity more broadly has negative impacts upon mental health, it seems that only very specific aspects of masculinity are having a profound impact upon male mental health and limit men from expressing their emotions.

What, for me has been most interesting, is considering the manner in which aspects of masculinity can be harnessed to produce positive outcomes for male mental health. Analysing various gendered health care projects/ policies have led us to consider which steps should be taken to resolve this male mental health crisis. Looking forward this has led us to question whether these gendered approaches actually have positive impacts as long-term solutions, or whether they contribute to reinforcing the restricted conception of maleness which has had negative outcomes thus far. Further, it has raised questions of the plausibility, practicalities and the usefulness of gender-neutral approaches to mental health, questions that require more research and require further debate to consider both the short term and long term implications of policies, in order to deal with this crisis.

“Man Up”: A Case for Positive Masculinity

The American Psychological Association’s guidelines delineate that traditional masculinity has been proven to limit males’ psychological development and negatively impact their mental health. The guidelines identify that the traits most closely linked to mental health problems were ‘playboy behaviour’ or ‘sexual promiscuity’. The guidelines support encouraging positive aspects of ‘traditional masculinity’, such as courage and leadership, and discarding traits such as violence and sexism, while noting that the vast majority of men are not violent. Elements of hegemonic (traditional) masculinity are negatively associated with helpseeking: these are primarily those that relate to the ability to be emotionally expressive or to show vulnerability and they have been suggested as having a particularly negative impact on formal mental health help-seeking. These elements are also related to greater mental health stigma and a desire to mask mental health concerns to peers for fear of losing social status, especially within groups of younger men and in communities of men where masculinity is observed  at close quarters. Traits of so-called ‘traditional masculinity’, like suppressing emotions and masking distress, often start early in life and have been linked to less willingness by boys and men to seek help, more risk-taking and aggression — possibly harming themselves and those with whom they interact. However, at present, a lot of mental health promoters have been attempting to manipulate the use of masculinity in a way by which men are encouraged to seek help.  Aspects of hegemonic masculinity such as autonomy and control have been used to deal with emotional as well as psychological health concerns and has been harnessed well by practitioners to make help-seeking part of assertive and positive decision making. ‘Fatherly’ lists the 11 aspects of masculinity, of the 79 generally identified,  that can be employed in order to promote male mental health care and shirk the phenomenon of ‘toxic masculinity’; some of these are –  male self-reliance, the worker-provider tradition of men, men’s respect for women, male courage, daring, risk-taking, the group orientation of men and boys, male forms of service, men’s use of humor, and male heroism. Furthermore, APAs study finds that using male-oriented, action-focused linguistics are more effective in promoting mental health among men in comparison to the employment of traditional communicative tactics.

Since our topic is essentially investigating the impact of traditional, toxic masculinity on the male mental health, I think it might be interesting to look at instances where masculinity has been positively drawn on to promote mental wellbeing within men.

Minutes 13.03.2019


  • Further refined our question, still needs further adaptation, “How does the enforcement of masculinity affect our uncertainty of knowing male emotions/feelings?”
  • In this way we have targeted where uncertainty lies in our project

Identified a structure for our presentation, as it stands it is as follows:

Philosophical argument about what it means to come to know someone’s feelings- behaviouristic argument

How is masculinity defined? – done through an analysis of literature- this conflicts with how we come to know emotion

In what ways is this understanding of masculinity enforced? – done largely through an analysis of mainstream media

Uncertainty – Thus there arises an uncertainty of coming to know male emotions- reflected by statistics. Further mainstream culture has such a clear image of masculinity it ignores the uncertainties of what it is to be a man

We have hypothesised that the enforcement of Masculinity creates uncertainty that we may come to know men’s feelings. It seems that the enforcement of masculinity is limiting men from expressing their emotions.

Data on MMH- Mind’s project demonstrated that various focus groups highlighted the issues of masculinity for expressing their emotions

+Further data psychological data suggests this

However, psychological studies show it is actually very specific aspects of masculinity that are affecting MMH and limiting us from knowing men’s feelings: 1. Self-reliance 2. Power over women 3. Playboy type- these are demonstrated in media through male gaze for example

Gendered Health care, company policies and political policies, and various projects support this and suggest that certain aspects of masculinity can actually be used in a positive light to help men access mental health support and thus this demonstrates that not all aspects of masculinity have detrimental effects on men’s abilities to express their emotions and seek help.

Future considerations – Identify some questions that we want to carry forward beyond this project.




Ongoing tasks

Everyone- meet on Monday and bring together our research and start the presentation, sort out the photographs for the presentation

Áine- Summarise the behaviouristic argument – how we understand people’s emotions

  • Select relevant data and case studies
  • Write what studies have shown

Anuschka- International gendered health care policies, company policy and political policies, quantitative survey data

Augustin- Elaborate on masculinity and how it is defined in literature

Mina- Find the relevant examples from film

The Male Gaze of Hollywood Cinema: Objectifying Women & Empowering Men?

For our presentation, I am looking at how media (and film especially) represent male mental health. For this, I chose two extremes: mainstream Hollywood and films that are specifically on mental health.

For one aspect of our presentation, I am looking at how men are represented in Hollywood cinema, from their emotions to the power they are given on screen. This made me think of Laura Mulvey’s iconic 1999 text Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. In this text through the use of Freud’s psychoanalysis, she explores the way women are filmed in the classic Hollywood cinema of the 50s, the Golden Age.

The male gaze is a concept that focuses on the objectification of women on screen, it suggests a sexualised way of looking that empowers men and objectifies women. In the male gaze, the woman is visually positioned as an “object” of heterosexual male desire. Her feelings, thoughts and her own sexual drives are less important than her being “framed” by male desire. Although sometimes described as the ‘male gaze’, Mulvey’s concept is more accurately described as a heterosexual, masculine gaze. Therefore from a male perspective looking at the female object.

Mulvey exemplifies this with the portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in the River of No Return, particularly in the scene where she is singing with men surrounding her. In this scene, she is represented as both the object of pleasure as well as the object of entertainment. The scene starts with a close up of her legs and rests there for a while before showing us her face. This symbolises her purpose in this film: to be a sexual object of the male gaze.

So how does this relate to male mental health?

With these kinds of Hollywood films that objectify women, they also empower men and give them an on-screen power that does not allow them to show emotion or be ‘weak’. Men, according to Hollywood, have all the answers, they never crack or show weakness. I believe that just like reality shaping the media, the media has a big influence on men growing up thinking that that is how they should act. It makes them idolise these powerful male characters and believe that that is how masculinity should be.

A couple of films that have a strong male gaze:

  • Vertigo
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice
  • Bananas
  • American Hustle
  • Charlie’s Angels
  • River of No Return
  • Carrie
  • Most James Bond films

Delivering Male



Delivering male is a really important collection of research which shall be vital for our project. This is Mind’s report on delivering effective practice in male mental health care.

The report worked with a number of focus groups and leading professionals and it provides a lot of useful statistics on gendered health care and shall be useful in demonstrating that certain aspects of masculinity may be used in order to help men expressing their emotions.

It emphasises that socialisation and public perceptions of men do have a negative impact upon Men’s ability to express their emotions and access health care services to get help. The following quotes are very useful to demonstrate this.

  • Men have been classed as workhorses and if you’re a sick workhorse the last thing you want to do is complain about it. (Dorset Mind)
  • Women are a bit more understanding, they speak to each other about these things. The guy won’t sit down and talk about how they’re feeling. (Nottingham group)
  • Men are brought up completely differently from girls. If you fall over and you’re a boy you’re told to get up, “it’s only a scratch, get on with it”…that’s gone all the way through my life, there can’t be anything wrong with me because I’m a bloke, I’m being a big baby. It’s very difficult. I get so angry because I was taught not to show any emotion and so I direct the anger at myself’. (Carrick Mind)

Further it included useful quotes from young participants from African-Caribbean backgrounds

  • It’s a survival of the fittest thing because the environment has certain standards and certain ways of living up to that. Everyone wants to get to a certain place. (African-Caribbean 18-25)
  • Keep it locked up – if you tell one guy and you think you can trust him, he’ll probably go and tell another mate and he’ll tell everyone. (Pakistani 18-25)

The report discusses findings from Untold who that “there are often significant tensions between conventional masculine behaviour and the idea of nurturing good mental health…some of the accepted cultural markers of masculinity – for example (and among others): the willingness to “soldier on” when under emotional stress; the consumption of large amounts of alcohol; the greater propensity to physical aggression; the greater tendency of boys to misbehave in school – are also potential symptoms of, or predisposing factors for, poor mental health. Many of these behaviours are so familiar that they seem indisputably “normal” even though it is easy to see that they are sometimes simultaneously damaging.”

The report provided a number of  useful case studies of projects which are using a gendered approach to dealing with  male mental health. These case studies demonstrate that certain aspects of masculinity may be used in productive manners to help men express their emotions and get help from health services.

MAC- Music and change- works with young men in their own environment and gives them a strong stake in the development and implementation of projects. Giving them a sense of pride in their projects whilst giving them access to one to one therapy sessions

Boxercise in cryodn –Targeting men’s desire to involve themselves in exercise to give them a sense of self-worth, to bond with other men, and have a space to talk about their emotions

The report stressed the importance of physical health activity schemes particularly getting men involved in group exercise and and in order to increase socialising amongst men

This research and these case studies will be vital for our argument.


After deciding to base our project on secondary research, in the light of being denied ethical clearance, this week each of us shared some of the resources we found to be useful while browsing information over the week. 

Following are some of the ideas we thought would be interesting to study

  • Play Boy and its impact on male mental health (MMH)
  • The “male gaze” in mainstream Hollywood, perpetuated through films such as Goodfellas 
  • Hysterical representation of women in Indian and Turkish cinema in contrast with the hyper-masculinity characterising male characters, the impact of this on the identity psyche of viewers 
  • The idea of “soft boys” vs “f*** boys” 
  • Positive masculinity for the destigmatisation of MMH
  • Mythological archetype in the characterisation of “superheroes”
    • Separation from the parents
    • Saving the woman as the prize

The discussion of these ideas led to us deciding to develop our research on the back of the feedback loop connecting the cultural representation of men (depiction of masculinity in film and literature) with empirical research done in the field of MMH 

We will be looking at the following texts that have been recommended to us in tandem with the existing information we possess:

  1. DELIVERING MALE MENTAL HEALTH (empirical research)
  3. ADOLESCENT AND YOUNG ADULT MENTAL HEALTH – Simon Rice and Psych (conditions for ill mental health)
  5. THE MOST DREADFUL VISITATION:Male Madness is Victorian Fiction – V Pedlar 

Our discussion ended with the re-iteration of making the sub theme of ‘uncertainty’ more visible in our topic, be it with regard to the uncertainties maligning the concept of ‘masculinity’ or the feedback loop between cultural representations and audience psyche.

Over this week we will all look at the recommended texts while continuing individual research and thinking about how to make ‘uncertainty’ more explicit in our project 

Minutes week 6

  • Due to being unable to get ethical clearance, we are unable to interview and hand out questionnaires in order to collect the data we hoped to collect
  • Instead, we are going to focus on using existing data and finding research that may help our conclusions along with looking at literature and films and political case studies in order to do our research
  • Interested at looking at international cinema and Mina mentioned doing some close analysis into a couple of films and the reception of men’s mental health and gender stereotypes in those films – for example, Split.
  • Also particularly how mainstream films i.e. Hollywood are approaching these topics
  • Also shall look these topics in literature and proceed with the same method, and do a comparison between how the two mediums present male mental health and the male gender stereotypes more broadly
  • We are attempting to get ethical clearance so that we can still present our information on the backdrop of portraits of men. Thinking about editing these in a manner which brings in the literary/ film references which we have been closely analysing
  • Talked about how we are going to talk about the limitations of our project- two key limitations at present have been the issue in getting ethical clearance and a lack of international data on these issues

Steps ahead:

  • Close analysis of films
  • Close analysis of literature
  • Comparison of these two, and what conclusions can we draw from these
  • Finding examples either in policy particular case studies that may illuminate this area
  • finding empirical research that may illuminate how the uncertainties around social conduct for men have contributed to the lack of expression of emotion from men.


1. Correcting the Minimal Ethical Risk form:

  • “personally sensitive” questions are to be formulated and laid out carefully. There needs to be a possibility for people to opt out (a “prefer not to say” box for instance). The questions need to be generally formulated so that they cannot be perceived as an extraction by any kind of force of personal information. 

2. Defining the research question further

  • Question agreed upon last week: “To what extent are the uncertainties surrounding social conduct expectations limiting men from expressing their emotions ?” (probably taken as sub-title of a more general heading). 
  • “uncertainties, “social conduct expectations” and “men expressing their emotions” are the three factors that will have to be articulated together in the results obtained through empirical research.
  • important point for the contextualisation of the research: Àine found in her last reading that there is limited research about male mental health. 
  • possibility to include questions about nationality in the research (perhaps as qualitative questions in the questionnaires).

3. Thinking about data collection

  • reading about the designing of questionnaires and general methodology issues in social science research in Social Research Methods by Alan Bryman.
  • thinking about the sample size: 100 to 200 would be best. 
  • in addition to quantitative data, possibility of including qualitative data with “elite interviews” (perhaps from people within mental health care institutions, ideally by email) in order to fill in gaps and ambiguities that may come with the results of the quantitative research. 

4. In the next weeks

  • substantial amount of reading needed for the elaboration of the questionnaires. One interesting piece is The Colour Of Madness Anthology: Exploring BAME mental health in the UK by Samara Linton and Rianna Walcott.
  • we should start reaching out to our empirical sources around reading week (which means having designed the questionnaire and the interviews questions)
  • Week 8 is a good deadline objective for having collected our data in order to start processing it.

Sociology of mental health and illness

In response to Caroline’s suggestion I have been reading The Sociology Of Mental Health And Illness by Anne Rogers and David Pilgrim. Chapter 3 is particularly useful as it addresses Gender, sexuality and mental health.

I have gathered some very useful statistics and facts and arguments from this paper which may guide how we formulate our questionnaire and may help us to reach an end conclusion for this project. Some of which I will list below

  • Overall, women receive psychiatric diagnosis more often than men
  • certain diagnostics are gendered
  • ‘over-representation of women’ in psychiatric diagnosis cannot be generalised across the world
  • women’s social roles play a part in this over- representation
  • single status makes men more vulnerable to mental health problems than it does women
  • hyper-masculinity is culturally evident, it has been linked to raised levels of male suicidal action
  • hegemonic masculinity has a massive impact on rural areas such as farming communities and mental
  • there isn’t necessarily a direct relationship between experiencing symptoms and decisions to seek help
  • ‘help-seeking action may reflect not only the cultural values and expectations associated with a specific gender but also those associated with specific social roles adopted by women and men’
  • ‘sex differences in the seeking of help correspond to attitudinal differences; women are more likely to admit distress.. to define their problems in mental-health terms…and to have favourable attitudes towards psychiatric treatment’
  • many studies have chosen to study only women due to gender assumptions
  • women have greater contact with the health services for a greater variety of reasons such as health care for children
  • Patriarchal authority, which seeks out and labels women as mad, is responsible for the over-representation.
  • the stereotype of men being angry has a massive impact on how they are received and treated
  • ‘men are dealt with more harshly than women, this is especially the case to the interface between psychiatry and the criminal justice system
  • women take sick leave for minor psychiatric problems more often than men
  • the construct of depression is inconsistent with a notion of hypermasculinity
  • Gender and sexuality – Both gay men and lesbians present with more mental health problems than do heterosexuals and are more likely to abuse substances (King et al. 2003).

Finally, I have some questions that we might carry forward into our research.

  • To what extent are the societal structures such as mental health services, contributing to the reinforcement of stereotypes, or alternatively, are affecting men from limiting their emotions for different reasons, such as the assumptions of what can be provided from going to these services and expressing their emotions.
  • Have health check ups such as pregnancy, or other compulsary check-ups affected statistics which mean women are forced to express their emotions to professionals more reguarly than men.
  • How has the historical diagnosis of women’s mental health potentially limited men from expressing their own emotions or reinforced gender stereotypes?
  • how does sexuality affect the statistics?
  • to what extent is the research the outcome of gender assumptions in the first place? e.g. women only focus group