Oct 7, 2005
Volume 33
Issue 40

Saturday, Aug 08, 2020 02:11

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The HumVee makes the man?
The HumVee makes the man?
New research shows that men overcompensate for threats to their masculinity

WASHINGTON, D.C. - New research shows that men assume more "macho" attitudes when they believe their masculinity is threatened. Robb Willer, a Cornell University researcher, presented his research findings on this at the 100th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Philadelphia on August 15.

"I found if you made men more insecure about their masculinity, they displayed more homophobic attitudes, tended to support the Iraq war more and would be more willing to purchase an SUV over another type of vehicle," said Robb Willer, author of the report Overdoing Gender: Testing the Masculine Overcompensation Thesis.

In the study, 111 male and female undergraduates received a survey, then received random feedback that characterized their answers as indicating either a masculine or feminine identity. Women's responses to subsequent questions were unchanged regardless of the feedback, but men's reactions were strongly affected by it.

The results show statistically significant increases in men's homophobia, support for a ban on same-sex marriage, support for the Iraq war, and interest in purchasing an SUV among men who were given "masculinity-challenged" feedback. "Masculinity-threatened men also reported feeling more ashamed, guilty, upset and hostile than did masculinity-confirmed men," said Willer.

"American men are under enormous pressure to measure up to one idea about being a 'real man' - the image of Dirty Harry, The Terminator or the Marlboro Man. Now the research is telling us that these old gender stereotypes are stifling, and even dangerous, to mens' well being and to the community as a whole," said Riki Wilchins, executive director of the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition.

Willer is currently researching connections between masculinity ideals and violence against women, attitudes toward equality between the sexes, and standards of manliness that men are privately uncomfortable with.

"We need more research on the effects of gender stereotypes on men and women, boys and girls. It's time for everyone to have the opportunity to explore all their interests, talents and feelings, whether or not they are considered appropriate for their gender," said Wilchins.

Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC)

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