[Dec. 16, 2023: JJ Shavit, The Brighter Side of News]
The study offers a nuanced exploration of the intimate dynamics men navigate in their personal relationships. (Credit: Creative Commons)
In recent decades, discussions surrounding male types often simplistically boiled down to the contrasting binaries of ‘alpha’ and ‘beta’. Yet, as our understanding of masculinity grows, a pioneering study from the University of British Columbia offers fresh insights, charting three distinct categories of masculinity.
While some may argue that gender classifications and behaviors can't be narrowed down to mere categories, the study offers a nuanced exploration of the intimate dynamics men navigate in their personal relationships.
The groundbreaking research involved a diverse cohort of 92 heterosexual men ranging from 19 to 43 years in age. Dr. John Oliffe, who spearheaded the project, remarked, "We set out to understand how different types of masculinities shape men's relationships and their mental health." The outcomes, he revealed, suggest each masculine archetype comes with its unique benefits and challenges.
The New Masculine Archetypes:
Neo-traditionalist: This category encapsulates men who predominantly adhere to traditional gender roles. They often see themselves in roles of providers and protectors in their relationships. Their approach often harks back to established norms, making them the proverbial torchbearers of historical gender dynamics.
Egalitarian: These men ardently seek relationships characterized by balance and equality. They emphasize mutuality and a measurable give-and-take mechanism, often striving for symmetry in responsibilities. However, it's crucial to note that while they aim for balanced dynamics, the study identified that some egalitarian-styled men find it challenging to fully realize gender equality, especially in tasks like domestic responsibilities.
Progressive: The progressive male is one who actively engages in dialogues around gender equity within their relationships. They focus on fostering a dynamic where they can frequently converse with their partner to realign roles and responsibilities. Significantly, such men are not just passive supporters but active promoters of gender equity and social justice. Their proactive stance often leads to enhanced mental well-being.
The study also pointed out potential pitfalls. Men who contest or challenge the ideals of gender equity often face social repercussions like isolation or criticism. Such negative societal feedback can invariably dent their mental health.
While the traditional alpha/beta male dichotomy may come to mind when thinking about types of men, a new study has revealed three new categories of masculinity that scientists claim all men fit into. (CREDIT: Shutterstock / Fotovadrat)
Dr. Oliffe emphasized the relevance of these findings in the broader societal fabric: "These shifts and stresses have implications for mental health." He believes that to instigate meaningful change, there is an inherent need to tackle the structures that dictate and influence men's behaviors.
A significant takeaway from the research is the hope it ignites for the future. As gender roles continually evolve, understanding how younger generations of men engage in their personal relationships becomes paramount. Dr. Oliffe observed, "While men are becoming more involved in promoting gender equity, little is known about how younger men work to build partnerships in their private lives."
Men who value equality in their relationships and strive for a balanced give-and-take are considered egalitarian. (CREDIT: Shutterstock / Drpixel)
In shedding light on this previously "uncharted space," the research not only gives us a window into evolving male dynamics but also underscores the significance of reshaping societal structures for healthier relationships.
Dr. Oliffe concluded with an aspirational note: "With this research, we hope we have helped map that uncharted space and point a way forward for healthier relationships that promote the health of men, their partners, and families."
Where did the participants land in the study? (CREDIT: UBC)
The University of British Columbia's research underscores the ever-evolving dynamics of masculinity, suggesting that understanding these nuances can pave the way for more inclusive, understanding, and healthier societies. As the conversation around gender roles advances, studies like these equip us with the knowledge to navigate, comprehend, and shape our collective future better.
To share their findings, the team launched an online photo exhibition titled Men Building Intimate Partner Relationships featuring 120 photographs from more than 700 submitted by the study participants.
“There are photos depicting neo-traditional, egalitarian or progressive masculinity, and visitors are invited to take a quiz to decide which images fit with each masculinity. We’re not only highlighting our research outcomes, we’re also inviting input from visitors about how they see themselves—and how they build gender equity in their intimate partner relationships,” says Dr. Nina Gao, research manager for the men’s health research program.
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