- While longstanding structures and stereotypes are being reconsidered, masculinity and manhood are in crisis.
- The cultivation of modern masculinity is essential for the mental and physical health of men both in business and at home.
- Most work cultures today are very masculine, mainly due to the dominance of men in these organizations at the upper management level.
In 2020, the Mantorshift Institute conducted a qualitative research project in the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Austria, Jordan, and Iran. There were over 200 men interviewed of various age groups and backgrounds. I am going to summarize our findings in a series of posts here on Psychology Today. Let's start with the "why."
Why did we conduct the research?
More and more men and women are asking what it means to be a man in the 21st century. While longstanding structures and stereotypes are being reconsidered, masculinity and manhood are in crisis. The old masculine stereotypes of being aggressive, privileged, and tough, while also being hypersexual and unemotional, are being dismantled. At the same time, we are also seeing these old stereotypes being embraced and re-embraced around the world by many extremist movements. While women have long engaged in a constructive conversation about modern femininity and what it means to be a woman, there seems to be little discussion about modern manhood and modern masculinity.
There are a number of perspectives, such as the health, cultural, and business perspectives, that make it necessary that we start and continue to engage in a conversation about the meaning of masculinity and manhood.
The Health Perspective
There are some pretty disturbing statistics coming out about men’s health.
In September of 2019, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) brief that outlines the latest data on causes of death in the United States. Men and boys continue to have a higher death rate in 9 out of the 10 leading causes of death. More males than females are dying of cancer. Overall, cancer accounts for 21.9% of all male deaths but 20.7% of female deaths. Males are three to seven times more likely than females to take their own life. Men are almost twice as likely to binge drink than women. Approximately 22% of men report binge drinking and on average do so five times a month, consuming eight drinks per binge.
The Business Perspective
Most work cultures today are very masculine, mainly due to the dominance of men in organizations, especially at the upper management level. The women who want to succeed need to adopt masculine traits, such as being highly assertive, strong in conflict, highly competitive, and emotionally reserved. We can argue whether these traits are only considered masculine due to gender stereotypes or not, but the bottom line is this: research has shown that when "she rises, the company rises." Why? Because women bring more emotional intelligence, more ability to think outside the box, a richer set of constructive conflict skills, and a better ability to influence rather than coerce.
Men seem to be avoiding the conversation about what healthy masculinity is, even as they react to significant events like the #metoo movement. We need to have a meaningful conversation about how we should define modern masculinity for organizations, teams, and individuals. For example, if you are a man leading a mixed-gender team today, how do you decide how you relate to them as a group and as individuals? You and your organization will need to decide what's appropriate and what's not.
The Cultural Perspective
The images and archetypes of manhood and masculinity that are instilled into us through our upbringing and education and culture are often obsolete. We need to define modern masculinity—because it is the only way to create true diversity and equality in business. The cultivation of modern masculinity is also essential for the mental and physical health of men both in business and at home.
Those are the core reasons while we think at The Mantorshift Institute that the modern man and masculinity question is more relevant than ever in 2021.