What Is The ‘Man Box’ and Just How Dangerous Is It?

30 Mar 2017

Man up. don’t cry. Be a ‘real’ man.

New research published today shows that guys are conforming to outdated societal ‘rules’.

The ‘Man Box’ – masculine ideals that say men should be the alpha male, hide their feelings, look a certain way and refrain from seeking help for issues – has a devastating impact on guys’ mental health, from suicidal thoughts, to bullying, to violence.

The research, conducted by Promundo and commissioned by Axe, Unilever’s leading male grooming brand, studied 3,500 young men across the US, UK and Mexico. It discovered that guys often don’t even know they are being limited by the ‘Man Box’ and are unaware of how dangerous toxic masculinity is.

Rik Strubel, Global Vice President, Axe said “This eye-opening research reinforces that guys are suffering under these toxic labels forced on them by society. They’re unable to say, look, do or feel what they want to, because they are trapped in a ‘Man Box’. The impact of this is alarming, from acting in a risky manner to mental health issues. Together with our partners, we’re committed to liberating men from harmful labels so they can be who they damn well want to be.

At least 57% of guys surveyed said they had been told a “real man should behave a certain way” at some point in their lives. This is preventing guys from showing their true feelings, with 48% of guys surveyed agreeing with “in my opinion guys should act strong even if they feel scared or nervous inside.”

The research also discovered that guys in the ‘Man Box’ are more likely to act in a risky manner, which can lead to bullying, depression and ultimately suicide. Appallingly, at least one in five men in the ‘Man Box’ have thought of committing suicide in the past two weeks.

The ‘Man Box’ is not just dangerous for young men. The way they behave as a result of the outdated labels that society imposes on them has a knock-on effect on those around them too. Guys surveyed who are in the ‘Man Box’ are more likely to be a victim or perpetrator of bullying than those who are outside the ‘Man Box’, and are at least 3 times more likely to make unwanted sexual comments towards women.

The research compliments previous findings from our recent report, ‘Masculinity and Misogyny in the Digital Age’. From the analysis of 19-million Tweets, we found that violence and an inability to cry are some of the most commonly associated behaviours under the construct of masculinity. We know that young men are the least likely to talk about the issue of bullying and the most likely to perpetuate bullying behaviours. At Ditch the Label, we welcome and applaud the new research from Promundo and Axe and believe that it brings us a step closer to a world that is truly fair, equal and free from all types of bullying.

You can read the full report here. If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this report, click here and let’s talk it out.

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