A new Canadian study finds that today’s young men are expanding the concept of traditional masculinity by placing a higher priority on the traits of selflessness and openness, while still valuing — but putting slightly less emphasis on — physical strength and autonomy.
Based on a survey of 630 young men (aged 15 to 29) in Western Canada, researchers found that selflessness was the most strongly endorsed masculine value. A total of 91 percent of the respondents agreed that a man should help other people, and 80 percent believed that a man should give back to the community.
Openness also ranked high: 88 percent said a man should be open to new ideas, new experiences, and new people. Health ranked high as well with a majority of respondents saying that men should be healthy or in good shape.
“Young Canadian men seem to be holding masculine values that are distinctly different from those of previous generations. These values may run counter to long-standing claims that young men are typically hedonistic, hypercompetitive, and that they risk or neglect their health,” said lead author Dr. John Oliffe, a nursing professor who leads the men’s health research program at the University of British Columbia (UBC).
Study co-author Nick Black, a managing partner at Intensions Consulting, a Vancouver-based market research firm, believes many young men are expanding their definition of masculinity.
“As a millennial myself, I can see these values reflected in the lives of men around me,” said Black. “They want to be both caring and strong, both open to others and self-sufficient, and they see no contradiction in these values.”
While traditional “male” values ranked lower on the scale, they were still valued by the majority of participants.
For example, 75 percent of the participants said that a man should have physical strength, compared with those who said a man should have intellectual strength (87 percent) or emotional strength (83 percent). Autonomy came in slightly lower with 78 percent of the men agreeing that a man should be “independent.”
Oliffe said more studies are needed to include other age groups and geographical locations, but adds that the current findings could be helpful in developing more effective men’s health-care programs.
“The life expectancy gap is closing between men and women, and I hope that additional gains are mustered through these emerging health-related values, and our continued work in men’s health,” said Oliffe.
Source: University of British Columbia