Fighting Workplace Sexism Against Women Is Good for Men
Women and groups advocating for gender equality are increasingly urging men to become allies in the fight. Research has shown that in the absence of male support, women are on their own battling misogynist humor and microaggressions. This can lead to a sense of isolation, stress and exhaustion. But what difference can one un-sexist man make? Researchers found that the actions of individual male allies—even through simple acts such as highlighting the strengths of female colleagues or checking in on their wellbeing—might serve as a counterweight to the negative effects of everyday sexism, researcher Meg Warren, an assistant professor in management at Western Washington University in Bellingham, noted. The study, which included the impact on men, was reported on in the journal Psychology of Men and Masculinities.
“We recruited 101 pairs of male and female colleagues employed in maledominated departments across 64 research universities in the US and Canada,” Warren wrote in The Conversation. Department heads distributed the survey to female faculty members, and the women who responded were invited to nominate a male colleague they work with regularly to take a companion survey. “We asked the women to what extent the male colleague they nominated behaved as an ally, such as by taking public stances on issues facing women and standing up when he sees discrimination,” Warren wrote. “We also asked women if they felt like the colleague appreciated them—which is seen as a sign of inclusion—and how enthusiastic they felt working with him.”
The men were asked to what extent they thought they behaved as allies, such as by reading up on the unique experiences of women or by confronting sexist colleagues. Warren said researchers also wanted to know the extent to which they felt men’s support of women helped them “do better things” with their lives and acquire new skills that help them become a “better family member.” Just under half of women rated their male colleague as a strong ally.
Women who perceived their male colleagues as allies reported higher levels of inclusion than those who didn’t, which is also why they said they experienced greater enthusiasm in working with them.
“In other words,” Warren said, “having men as allies in male-dominated workplaces seems to help women feel like they belong, and this helps them function enthusiastically with their male colleagues on the job.”
This pattern has important longterm implications. If women feel energized and included, they might be more likely to stay with their employer— rather than quit—and strive to change a sexist workplace. Men who were more likely to act as allies to women reported proportionately higher levels of personal growth and were more likely to say they acquired skills that made them better husbands, fathers, brothers and sons. This tendency suggests the possibility that being a male ally creates positive ripple effects that extend beyond the workplace.
Bottom line: When women perceive men as supportive colleagues, it makes them feel more integral to the workplace. This suggests a good starting point for men who want to be allies: find more ways to express that support for women at work.
Unpacking the Man Box
A new report based on a survey of a thousand young Australian men aged 18 to 30 finds their belief in rigid masculine stereotypes has a strong impact on their propensity to engage in harmful behaviors.
The initial Unpacking the Man Box report in 2018 found that young Australian men who believe in outdated masculine stereotypes were at higher risk of using violence, online bullying and sexual harassment, engaging in risky drinking and reporting poorer levels of mental health.
The new report reveals those men’s adherence to masculine stereotypes has a stronger impact on whether they will use violence, sexually harass women, or experience mental ill-health themselves, than other factors including their education levels, where they live or their cultural heritage.
Funded by VicHealth, the study was produced by Jesuit Social Services’ The Men’s Project, and Dr. Michael Flood, associate professor at Queensland University of Technology, a longtime antisexist activist and academic.
The report found that men’s adherence to outdated attitudes to gender is:
- 25 times more accurate than a range of demographic variables in predicting the use of physical violence, sexual harassment, verbal bullying and cyber bullying.
- 22 times more accurate in predicting the experience of physical violence, verbal bullying and cyber bullying
- 11 times more accurate than demographics at predicting very risky drinking; and
- 10 times more accurate than demographics at predicting negative feelings and emotions
The report includes a range of recommendations to support young men to break free of the man box, live healthy lives and be their best selves. To download the full report, go to https://jss.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/jss200712_UMB_Repport_Digital.pdf.
Many men’s tendency to deny fossil fuels’ role in the climate crisis is being described as “petro masculinity”—a “violent compensation for the anxieties provoked by both gender and climate trouble.”
Petro masculinity is reactionary in its defense of the fossil fuel status quo, often coupling consumption and production with becoming a “real man” (think: driving big trucks and/or working with heavy machinery). Consequently, efforts to reduce the climate emergency’s impact are perceived as a challenge to manhood and existing power structures. The term was coined by Virginia Tech political science professor Cara Daggett in 2018 in a paper, “Petro-masculinity: Fossil Fuels and Authoritarian Desire.”
Compounding matters, petro masculinity is ostensibly hurting these men’s dating lives. A recent OKCupid report revealed that climate crisis denial was the biggest deal breaker for online daters today. The report also found that worries about the climate, and wishes to find similarly minded partners, were more common among women than men. The culprit: petro masculinity. An OKCupid feature allowing users to add a climate crisis advocate badge to their profile, increases “likes” up to 37 percent. Apparently, advocating for social causes may not only improve your community, but also your dating life.
Where Are the Black Male School Psychologists?
Men, of all races and ethnicities, are generally missing from the field of psychology, and especially so in school psychology. Women are school psychologists at a rate more than 600 percent greater than men, according to the National Association of School Psychologists’ 2020 member survey. But for boys in school— especially Black boys—that representation might be nonexistent. The group’s 2020 survey found that only 4 percent of full-time school psychologists were African American that year, compared to 86 percent white.
Representation is about more than “putting the face in the place,” says Kendell Kelly, a doctoral student in the school psychology program at Texas Woman’s University in Denton. Kelly’s research focuses on the impact of race-related stress on Black male students, as well as the role of Black male school psychologists. “It’s very important to have somebody…at the decision-making table, who you can relate to,” Kelly says. “You can’t talk about mental health without talking about culture and context.”
South Korea’s New Anti-Feminist President
After running a campaign promoting “anti-feminist” policies and rhetoric, in March Yoon Suk-yeol was elected president of South Korea. Over his five-year term, it is expected that women’s rights will be threatened, and his election could mean significant backlash against feminist movements from the government and others. The election was unique in South Korean history, according to the Washington Post. “Never before had gender politics been used by mainstream candidates to define key campaign strategies—and incite division between men and women,” the Post reported.
The South Korean election is an example of how a progressive movement can be quickly undermined. Many young male Yoon supporters claimed that men face “reverse discrimination” in South Korea a country with “the highest gender pay gap among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries, and with only 19 percent of the National Assembly represented by women. A group called People Power went so far as to call feminism “unconstitutional” and compared it to extremism and fascism. For his part, President Yoon denies there is any gender inequality in South Korea.
Young Male Victims of Sexual Abuse Are Invisible. Why?
Young boys and men who are victims of sexual abuse often choose to suffer in silence rather than seek help or speak up. The fear of being ridiculed or labeled “weak” is a step too far for them and they often face the trauma alone. So says Dr. Shaheda Omar, director of clinical services at South Africa Teddy Bear Clinic adding that many factors continue to hinder young boys from seeking help (ttbc.org.za/).
“Traditions and culture minimize the impact of sexual abuse and sexual assault on the boy child. When a disclosure is made, the blame is shifted and the boy victim is either accused of lying or in some way being responsible for the crime. Male victims must also often confront unsympathetic attitudes, especially if they choose to report the crime. They may also lack support from family and friends,” according to Dr. Omar.
UNICEF describes sexual abuse as the “actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force, or under unequal or coercive conditions, perpetrated by aid workers against the children and families they serve.” Omar confirmed that myths remain a barrier to the harsh truth about sexual abuse. “The reality is that it can happen to any boy regardless of his size, strength, appearance, race or culture. It can also happen anywhere, at school, at home or in cars, at sports grounds and in change rooms,” she said.
Can Covid Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
Recent studies suggest higher rates of erectile dysfunction among men recovering from Covid-19. But other factors related to the pandemic, like heightened anxiety, may also be to blame, the New York Times reported. Although a respiratory disease, Covid-19 causes weird symptoms—from diminished sense of smell and taste, discolored “Covid toes,” even causing a swollen, bumpy “Covid tongue.” But it’s the possible connection to Covid and ED that’s the subject of hundreds of papers by scientists in Europe and North America, in Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Thailand. Estimates of the magnitude of the problem vary wildly. A paper by Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, director of reproductive urology at the University of Miami’s Desai Sethi Urology Institute, and colleagues, found that the risk of erectile dysfunction increased by 20 percent after a bout with Covid. Other investigators have reported substantially higher increases in that risk. One more reason, men, to get vaccinated.
Understanding Boys’ Body Image Issues
For decades, parents have understandably focused their worries about negative body image on their daughters, regularly exposed to an avalanche of body pressures early on—from princess culture to Barbie’s tiny waist. But boys grow up under similar influences and pressure to be stronger, leaner, taller, the Washington Post reported recently. Despite the popular image of eating disorders and body shame as a threat unique to girls, experts and clinicians working with children are sounding alarms about boys, who they say are probably underdiagnosed.
“We’ve had this artificial sense that it doesn’t affect guys,” says Stuart Murray, director of the eating disorders program at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. “What we know now is eating disorders are increasing in boys and men but can present differently” than they do in girls. The more common manifestation of eating disorders in boys is “muscularity oriented,” Murray says. Boys worry about getting enough protein so they can be strong and build muscle, but they are desperate to stay lean. This is a nearly impossible combination.
The quest to get fit can lead to restricting calorie intake, exercising obsessively and following dangerous trends —like “dry scooping,” the practice of swallowing a scoop or more of protein powder, supposedly to help gain more energy to work out. “There are whole layers that boys are facing that we’re just starting to understand,” Murray says.