Challenge. Change. Podcast
Many people consider masculinity an inner essence or set of specific personality traits that define manhood. Psychology Professor Michael Addis has a different understanding. His research indicates masculinity is a performance a person gives to reinforce their gender in alignment with societal and cultural norms.
“There’s no doubt that many of the things that that boys and men have been taught to do to perform their masculinity can be harmful to themselves and to people of other genders as well,” says Addis.
Men who avoid being vulnerable in their relationships to appear masculine can live for decades with no emotional support, says Addis. Increased isolation could contribute to rising suicide rates among U.S. men ages 40 to 55, he notes.
“There’s a whole range of positive experiences related to emotional awareness, intimacy, and connections with other people,” says Addis. “All of these things are helped by letting go of the pressure to be a certain way because of your gender.”