The blueprint of masculinity is outdated.
The emergence of the Access Hollywood tape featuring Trump speaking in derogatory terms about women, the allegations of sexual assault, and his eye-roll inducing excuse of “locker room talk” have well and truly brought the issue of toxic masculinity into the public arena.
And as if the prospect of ending up like Donald Trump isn’t bad enough, a recent scientific study has concluded that older men who have followed a blueprint of tough, overtly macho masculinity all their lives will actually have significant difficulty dealing with the many stressful challenges old age will bring.
This is all according to according to Kaitlyn Barnes Langendoerfer, a doctoral student at Case Western Reserve University.
The hypothesis comes from a new literature review which mined findings from nearly 100 previous studies into men and and their relationships with masculinity.
“Who you are is embedded in you,” she says. “Men have trouble dealing with older age because they’ve followed a masculinity script that left little room to negotiate unavoidable problems.”
The study finds that those who have been raised within a culture which encourages them to view the masculine ideal as tough, self-reliant and unemotional will be unequipped to deal with the many curveballs which come with growing older.
She also discovered that men who reject stereotypically feminine characteristics like openness and vulnerability will be the ones who struggle most.
“We need to better understand how older men adapt to their stressors – high suicide rates, emotions they stifle, avoiding the doctor – to hopefully help them build better lives in older age,” she says.
Langendoerfer posits that a masculinity ‘script’ was outlined by a sociologist named Robert Brannon in the 1970s in his work ‘Blueprint of Manhood’. He found that men felt pressured to aim for four specific masculine ideals:
- “No Sissy Stuff – men are to avoid being feminine, show no weaknesses and hide intimate aspects of their lives.
- The Big Wheel – men must gain and retain respect and power and are expected to seek success in all they do.
- The Sturdy Oak – men are to be ”the strong, silent type” by projecting an air of confidence and remaining calm no matter what.
- Give ’em Hell – men are to be tough, adventurous, never give up and live life on the edge.”
With stats showing men exhibit the highest suicide rates, hiding tears and taking life on the chin just isn’t going to cut it anymore. If you struggle to let your emotions out, take this study as permission to stick The Notebook on and have a well-deserved cry. It’s good for you – science says so.