Manhood is indeed a precarious state of affairs.
A new study out of the University of South Florida courtesy of psychologists Jennifer K Bosson and Joseph A. Vandello portends that being macho is not for the faint of hard…
eurekalert: “Gender is social,” says, Bosson. “Men know this. They are powerfully concerned about how they appear in other people’s eyes.” And the more concerned they are, the more they will suffer psychologically when their manhood feels violated. Gender role violation can be a big thing, like losing a job, or a little thing, like being asked to braid hair in a laboratory.
To test their theorem the psychologists came up with some pretty interesting conundrums that it seems had a lot of men wailing…
In several studies, Bosson and her colleagues used that task to force men to behave in a “feminine” manner, and recorded what happened. In one study, some men braided hair; others did the more masculine—or gender-neutral—task of braiding rope. Given the options afterwards of punching a bag or doing a puzzle, the hair-braiders overwhelmingly chose the former. When one group of men braided hair and others did not, and all punched the bag, the hair-braiders punched harder. When they all braided hair and only some got to punch, the non-punchers evinced more anxiety on a subsequent test.
Ok- so masculine aggression is the preferred status or at least the preferred status in front of other men…
And now the interesting part- how does masculinity change when a woman is brought into the equation or put another way- how do women react to similar stresses imposed on men?
Bosson and her colleagues gave men and women a mock police report, in which either a man or a woman hit someone of their own sex after that person taunted them, insulting their manhood (or womanhood). Why did the person get violent? When the protagonist was a woman, both sexes attributed the act to character traits, such as immaturity; the women also said this about the male aggressors. But when the aggressor was a man, the men mostly believed he was provoked; humiliation forced him to defend his manhood.
And then you had this reflection from one of the commentators where the study appeared:
Yes, men need to feel masculine, but what gets defined as ‘masculine’ is to a large extent socially determined. Personally, I don’t think masculinity is determined as much by what you do, but how you do it: If you are as confident and self-assured braiding hair, practicing yoga or wearing spandex as you are discussing the finer points of that last UFC knock-out or car mechanics, people will see you as masculine.
And what does did the psychologists eventually come up with?
Interestingly, people tend to feel manhood is defined by achievements, not biology. Womanhood, on the other hand, is seen primarily as a biological state. So manhood can be “lost” through social transgressions, whereas womanhood is “lost” only by physical changes, such as menopause.
Which might explain next time you come across a male who’s sloshing himself in a vodka induced state- perhaps his masculinity has been compromised, and he’s nursing his nerves, that or the swing he takes at you, should you suddenly call him a woos.