A recent study by Australian company M&C Saatchi set out to dispel common perceptions of men as ignorant jerks. What they found may surprise you.
What does the modern masculinity look like? This is the question that the leaders of the Australian company M&C Saatchi have dared to answer in their recent publishing of The Modern [Aussie] Man. Their stated purpose:
“The Modern (Aussie) Man White Paper was released as part of the Men’s Strategic Roundtable held at Parliament House, Canberra, on International Men’s Day, 19th November 2013. By identifying the perceptions of a significant sample and cross-section of Australian men, the Modern (Aussie) Man White Paper has done what few have dared; given men back a personal gender voice to self-profile and share perceptions with exceptionally raw and self-effacing honesty.
ALL MEN ARE NOT BASTARDS OR IGNORANT, yet men believe this has become the default societal assumption. The Modern (Aussie) Man White Paper aimed to draw a line under historic truths and modern day stereotyping; painting a new portrait of our nation’s males and their perceptions of masculinity, men’s roles and feminism.”
A team of researchers interviewed a broad representative sample of 140 men between the ages of 27 and 64 about their hopes, fears, aspirations, shortcomings, and experiences as men. Seventy of the interviewed men were “influential leaders, marketers and role models from business, sport, military, popular culture, hospitality, philanthropy, academia, men’s health and well-being, education, media, advertising and fashion.” The other seventy were “everyday men” from white-collar, blue-collar, and service industries. While I have yet to get my hands on the full paper, the researchers have provided an online summary of “the strongest patterns evident in the majority of men interviewed.”
Men on Relationships:
- Men are women’s biggest fans—respectful of women and their rights to equal opportunities, considerations and benefits.
- Partnered (straight) men feel they have to negotiate for permission from their partners for alone time or time with their friends.
- Some men experience a lot of anxiety when buying presents for women. They can become excessively worried about “getting it wrong” and the potential for subsequent consequences.
- Men feel disappointed by partners who lose their sense of humor as they get older.
- Men are unassuming romantics; obsessed with evoking expressions of surprise and delight in their partners.
Men on Man Stuff:
- Most men do not feel “emasculated.”
- To be the best versions of themselves, men need man time. Depending on the particular man, this may mean time alone or time with male friends. The researchers state that men use this time to re-balance and de-stress in the absence of expectations, judgments, or stress.
- “Non-sporty men” will fake an interest in sports to avoid alienation by other men
- Among men, humorous mockery is used as a “levelling reaction” to inauthenticity and grandstanding, but not genuine success.
- Men are the yet-to-be discovered consumer. They love buying, but hate the word “shopping.”
- The term “metrosexual” is seen as a euphemism for vain by several men.
- Play is the defining way that men relate to and bond with children—especially boys.
- Men would like to laugh more at home but are afraid of seeming immature, especially to the women in their lives. The writers point to this as another reason men should engage in “man time” with one another.
- Men are conditioned to being told they’re wrong. One result of this is that the majority of interviewed men had developed “gender issue laryngitis.” That is, for seemingly pragmatic purposes they no longer felt welcome to share their opinions and concerns related to gender.
The researchers say that their research dispels the myth of a modern man who is ignorant and a detached. They write:
“The reality is encouraging. The majority of Australian men have evolved. Based on the findings in this research, we believe that that the majority of Australian men have strength of character, emotional intuition and traditional values grounded in respect, equality, humour, friendship, elementariness and most importantly family. They are not emasculated. Essentially, Australian men are an exemplary archetype of strong and authentic masculinity in the 21st century.”
I should remind the reader that I haven’t seen a copy of the actual manuscript at this point, which will likely details their complete findings. As well, all the men interviewed for this research were Australian. That said, I am interested in what you think.
How do these finding relate to men/masculinity in the U.S. and other countries?
What differences (if any) would you expect to see if this research was conducted on men outside of Australia?
Photo: Kat Northern Lights Man/flickr