Is sexism destroying men?

Is sexism destroying men?

Sexism can limit both men and women from realising their dreams and potential, by expecting them to conform to gender expectations of how they are supposed to behave, what dreams are appropriate for their gender, what price they may pay for non-conformity.

Boys hear about what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour pretty much from childhood too. “Boys don’t cry”, “stop acting like a girl” (which wins the sexism double whammy award in dismissing both genders at once!) are common lines thrown at boys.

Image via Getty.

I have written earlier about how young men are deemed expendable with institutions and process design showing little regard for their care, safety and emotional needs.

In my doctoral research, I dug into body image issues that drive unhealthy behaviours. To my surprise, I learnt that the Adonis Complex, the term applied to body image issues and dysmorphia affecting men, didn't even begin to be studied properly until the 1990s.


Men are often brought up with the idea that they must be the provider, the protector and the main earner, an expectation also often reinforced in traditional romantic practices such as a man being expected to pay on dates. Gross unfairness aside, this can burden a man with unreal responsibilities especially when in a dyadic (typically heterosexual) relationship where the partner decides to quit the workforce as the family grows.

Listen: Are boys nights sexist? (Post continues...)

One might ask if calling this “destruction” isn't overly dramatic. I would say, 'No, it is not.'

Men are taught that they are not to feel or express their emotions, from fear to caring, to affection. Men are expected to fit body image ideals. Men are expected socially to conform to “player”, “stud” or other sexual behaviour stereotypes.

The last bit here is especially problematic as recent APA research suggests it creates huge mental health issues for men.

“In general, individuals who conformed strongly to masculine norms tended to have poorer mental health and less favourable attitudes toward seeking psychological help, although the results differed depending on specific types of masculine norms,” said lead author Y. Joel Wong, PhD, of Indiana University Bloomington. The study was published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology.

These weird sexist expectations can destroy men's view of themselves as well as of their view of women as I have written earlier.

Whichever way we look at it, sexism isn't doing men any favours.

As an inclusive, intersectional feminist, all this bothers me to no end and I would strongly be inclined to say that yes, sexism is destroying men.

This post originally appeared on Quora and was republished here with full permission. 

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