Men become the main target in the new gender wars

Nov 27, 2006

Women have battled for years against stereotypical and sexist portrayals in the mass media. However research shows that men are increasingly the target for negative press.

The long-term effects of negative portrayals should particularly concern anyone who is raising boys, says the author of the study, Dr Jim Macnamara.

Dr Macnamara, who works as a media researcher, conducted the research for his PhD at the University of Western Sydney. He has recently published his findings in a book, 'Media and Male Identity: The Making and Remaking of Men.'

As part of the study, he undertook an extensive content analysis of mass media portrayals of men and male identity focusing on news, features, current affairs, talk shows and lifestyle media. Over six months, the study involved detailed analysis of over 2,000 media articles and program segments.

Dr Macnamara found that, by volume, 69 per cent of mass media reporting and commentary on men was unfavourable, compared with just 12 per cent favourable and 19 per cent neutral or balanced.

Some of the recurring themes in media content portrayed men as violent, sexually abusive, unable to be trusted with children, 'deadbeat dads', commitment phobic and in need of 're-construction'.

"Men were predominantly reported or portrayed in mass media as villains, aggressors, perverts and philanderers, with more than 75 per cent of all mass media representations of men and male identity showing men in on one of these four ways," Dr Macnamara says.

Further, in somewhat of a back-handed compliment, when positive portrayals of men as sensitive, emotional or caring were presented, these were described as men's and boys' 'feminine side.'

"The idealised image of the metrosexual - largely a creation of the media - only further adds to the confusion being felt particularly by boys trying to find their identity in the modern world," Dr Macnamara says.

Negative stereotyping of men and male identity can contribute to significant problems in society in three key ways, Dr Macnamara warns.

"Highly negative views of men and male identity provide little by way of positive role models for boys to find out what it means to be a man and gives boys little basis for self-esteem.

"In the current environment where there is an identified lack of positive male role models in the physical world through absentee fathers in many families, and a shortage of male teachers, the lack of positive role models in the media and presence of overwhelmingly negative images should be of concern."

This makes the research not only of relevance to men, but also for women, he says.

"Women who are the mothers of sons have equal cause for concern with the trend towards demonising, marginalising and trivialising of men and male identity."

"Ultimately such portrayals could lead to negative social and even financial costs for society in areas such as male health, rising suicide rates and family disintegration," he warns.

'Media and Male Identity: The Making and Re-making of Men' is published by Palgrave Macmillan.

Source: University of Western Sydney

Explore further: Can science eliminate extreme poverty?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New gender options for Facebook users (Update)

Feb 13, 2014

With a click of a cursor, Jay Brown went from Male to Trans Male. A few states away, Debon Garrigues switched from Male to Neutral. Marilyn Roxie, formerly Female, chose three: Androgynous, Transgender and ...

Looks are all important for girls on tween TV

Dec 04, 2013

"Girls can participate in everything that boys can, but while doing so they should be attractive." This, according to American researchers Ashton Lee Gerding of the University of Missouri and Nancy Signorielli ...

Dispelling the myth of gay affluence

Jun 20, 2013

(Phys.org) —As poverty rates for virtually every demographic group increased during the recent recession, lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans are more likely to be poor than heterosexual people, according ...

Recommended for you

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

11 hours ago

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.