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The Harmful Myth Of A Real Man - Society
The Harmful Myth Of A Real Man - Society

Video: The Harmful Myth Of A Real Man - Society

Video: The Harmful Myth Of A Real Man - Society
Video: Toxic Masculinity - What Makes a Real Man? | Coach Sean Smith 2023, March

The basic human instinct is the instinct of self-preservation, which is responsible for the inviolability of the right to life. However, this instinct is contradicted by the social mores that require boys to endure pain, sacrifice health for the greater good, and act as if they are invulnerable. How harmful is the myth about the real man? Reflects psychologist, author of the book "Boys are boys" Michael Reichert

Many boys succumb to the call and force their bodies to do the impossible, despite the harmful consequences. A child's personality begins with his body. When boys learn to be “boys,” cultural beliefs about how they should dress, eat, exercise, take risks, sleep, take care of themselves, and so on, have a huge impact.

Many - perhaps almost all - parents believe that "male behavior" is biologically driven and that it is because of biology that boys and girls are so different - especially physically. However, decades of researching gender differences - according to Australian sociologist Ravin Connell, “one of the hottest topics” in psychology, sociology and political science - have shown that the difference between the sexes is insignificant.

Psychologist Janet Hyde of the University of Wisconsin analyzed more than five thousand studies - a total of seven million participants - and determined that most of the gender differences found in these studies are minor or negligible. Based on this data, Connell suggested, "The main scientific study over the past eighty years has been the incredible psychological similarities between women and men."

So, in essence, girls and boys are not different from each other, but from childhood they are taught to use the body in different ways. The traditional system of gender perception is in fact inextricably linked to the differences between the male and female body, starting with the established image of the male and female body. They are the ones who decide how we treat our children, perceive and educate them - and this practice is passed down from generation to generation.

However, children are not passive in this process. Recent studies have shown that both the "biologically grounded" perception of the body as a programmable machine and the attitude to it as a blank canvas on which society "paints" gender norms are unfair in relation to a particular child, whose personality is formed on the basis of interaction with the outside world.

As an example, Connell cites stilettos - they are painful to wear, but heels remain popular with fashion-conscious girls who want to look beautiful. In another study, Connell observed the life of a bodybuilder; she described the young man's attempts to transform himself into the embodiment of the ideal of masculinity and to show boys what kind of body a "real man" should have.

Parents and other adults often find that boys are deprived of the opportunity to communicate openly with others and fostered in them a disregard for their own health

How stereotypes harm health

To begin with, because boys and men are more likely to put their health at risk, they are ahead of women and girls in the number of deaths from the fifteen most common causes (other than Alzheimer's). What conclusion can we draw? How harmful is the influence of traditional masculinity?

There are many examples of how masculinity is contrary to common sense. Trying to become the ideal representative of the "stronger sex" - healthy, strong and reliable - boys become accustomed to behaviors and attitudes that negatively affect their health.

To get his point across, psychologist Will Courtenay uses skin cancer as an example. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men are twice as likely to die from skin cancer as women. And at the same time, men are much less likely to use sunscreen. It would be logical to use sunscreen more often. Instead, however, young people are even more furious and insistent in calling on their fellows to be courageous.

Psychologist Will Courtenay writes: “Real men don't care about health; “Real” men never get sick; all kinds of lotions and lotions are the lot of women; "Real" men are not "sissies" and do not "fuss" over their bodies. "

Another example is boys and seat belts. According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which launched a special summer campaign targeting men in 2018, 10,418 passengers were unbelted in 2016; 44% of them are men from 18 to 34 years old. Two and a half thousand deaths on the roads could have been avoided if a person had buckled up.

Another example, related to purely male cancers and the possibility of preventive vaccination, shows that young people only reflect the attitude of families and health workers to this issue. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70% of reported cases of oral and throat cancer in men are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer in 13,000 women a year. However, young men agree to be vaccinated much less often than girls. According to data from 2016, the percentage of young men who agreed to vaccination increased from 7.8% in 2011 to 27% in 2016, but the difference still remained significant, since among girls, 48% agreed to vaccination.

In both reluctance to use sunscreen and avoiding vital vaccinations, we see a complex interplay between accepted norms of masculinity, the opinions of important adults, and the behavior of young people themselves who are taking risks

Yes, boys spoil their own lives, but isn't it cultural pressure that makes them make the wrong choice? A recent analysis led by David Bell, a specialist in adolescent medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, concluded: "Unlike girls, boys are more morally attached, less interested in their safety, and less likely to satisfy their needs."

The analysis confirmed that the more a young man is exposed to the norms of masculinity, the more often he harms his own health. Boys drink and smoke more, drive recklessly, and girls are more likely to engage in risky sex or other dangerous activities

The biggest difference between the sexes is observed between the ages of 15 and 24: 75% of deaths in this age group occur in boys. Boys are three times more likely than girls to die in car or bicycle accidents, at sporting events, from falls, as well as from craniocerebral and spinal injuries. In addition, boys are four times more likely than girls to commit suicide.

Is the male body a means to an end?

However, it is not so bad that boys are being forced to give up sunscreen and ruin their health. As boys become accustomed to stress, they begin to perceive their bodies as a tool rather than a part of themselves. According to cultural norms, the male body is a tool, a means to achieve goals. Rough treatment, unrestricted competition and constant "war" games lead to boys not tying their personality to their bodies; only the role they play is important.

How many boys take risks, take no care of themselves, get into car accidents and die shows just how committed they are to their role

According to the World Health Organization, 70% of male premature deaths are caused by behaviors that they were accustomed to in their youth. Mainly accepted norms of masculinity teach boys to separate personality from body, and the latter is perceived as a tool used in sports, at work, and even during sexual intercourse.

The latest scientific research data is a great occasion to reflect on how realistic myths about the real man are, and to realize the extent of the harm they can cause

More: Reichert M. Boys are boys. How to help your son become a real man. M.: Bombora, 2019.

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