When I was in high school, I worked as a dishwasher at two separate restaurants. The work was sweaty and tedious, interrupted by the occasional broken glass or waiter or waitress screaming about crappy tips, but it wasn’t mentally taxing. Moreover, I got to listen to the radio all night and to marvel at waiters who’d eat the leftover portion of customers’ steaks. (Oh, yeah, happens all the time.)
During my brief career “busting suds,” I never once thought of it as women’s work, in part because no girls held the same position at these restaurants. To this day I don’t think of washing dishes as effeminate and will gladly empty the dishwasher at our house. My wife hates everything associated with this task, thanks no doubt to growing up in a household without a dishwasher. So if a pan needs scrubbing, she leaves it for me. If the dishwasher needs emptying, she’ll ask me to do it. It’s just one of those things we’ve established in our relationship, and it doesn’t make me question my masculinity or—and studies show this happens—overcompensate by washing the dishes and then acting really macho.
Researchers from the University of South Florida found that men react aggressively if they feel their masculinity is being threatened.
After doing tasks traditionally associated with women, like cleaning or housework, men will deliberately behave in a more macho way to restore their self-esteem.Don’t like ads? Become a supporter and enjoy The Good Men Project ad free
Like what, listening to AC/DC and shotgunning Busch Light?
The researchers asked one group of men to behave in a way seen to be more feminine by braiding hair, while another group was asked to braid rope—a similar, but more masculine occupation.
Afterward, when given a choice between either punching a punch bag or doing a puzzle, the hair-braiders overwhelmingly chose the more violent option.
One could argue that punching a bag is simply less time-consuming than doing a puzzle. Anyway …
Professor Jennifer Bosson, who was part of a team of psychologists that carried out the study, said men used their aggression as a tactic to restore masculinity.
“Men are extremely concerned about how they appear in other people’s eyes and the more concerned they are, the more they will suffer psychologically when their manhood feels violated,” Professor Bosson told the Daily Telegraph.
“Gender-role violation can be a big thing, like losing a job, or a little thing, like being asked to braid hair in a laboratory.”
Hmm. Guess I’m glad I scrubbed some plates in high school. Otherwise I might need a punching bag now—or just a maid.