Being Sexist Could Be Bad For Men’s Health

If the desire to support the women in their lives, liberate themselves from gender roles, or just not be terrible doesn't dissuade men from sexist behavior, this should do it. A new meta-analysis in the Journal of Counseling Psychology suggests that sexist men have more mental health problems. The researchers analyzed 74 studies involving around 19,500 mostly white men. In different ways, they all gauged the men's beliefs about gender and their emotional well being. The issues they were asked about included depression, anxiety, and negative body image. "What we found overall is that the more that men conformed to masculine norms the poorer their mental health, and the less likely they were to seek mental health services," lead author Y. Joel Wong, a psychology professor at Indiana University Bloomington, told U.S. News & World Report. In particular, those who subscribed to the idea that men should be "playboys," have power over women, be independent, and be in control had worse mental health. The biggest problems these attitudes posed were loneliness, anger, and trouble socializing. Those who weren't college-educated were particularly at risk. It's long been established that societal standards of masculinity dissuade men from asking for help. A recent YouGov survey found that 28% of men (but only 19% of women) with mental health issues hadn't sought care. This could be one reason why these men suffer from more emotional problems, and Wong put forth another theory: "It could be that these norms are increasingly being rejected and thought of as outdated, which means some men might get pushback by people who are uncomfortable with these norms...For example, if you were maybe sexually promiscuous in the past, your partner might have just tolerated that. But today you might get pushback." Wong concluded in a press release that "sexism is not merely a social injustice, but may also have a detrimental effect on the mental health of those who embrace such attitudes." In other words, this study reminds us that gender roles hurt us all — yet another reason for men to be feminists, too. Plus, supporting people's rights is generally a decent thing to do, so there's that.

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