Older men cling to 1950s, '60s blueprint of masculinity

Older men cling to 1950s, '60s blueprint of masculinity
Kaitlyn Barnes Langendoerfer is a doctoral student in sociology at Case Western Reserve and co-author of the study. Credit: CWRU

As men age, they continue to follow dominant ideas of masculinity learned as youth, leaving them unequipped for the assaults of old age, according to a new study.

The mismatch between aging and the often ageless expectations of popular masculinity leaves senior men without a blueprint to behave or handle emotions, according to a new literature review from Case Western Reserve University.

Men who embodied the prevailing cultural and societal hallmarks of manliness as younger men—projecting an aura of toughness and independence, avoiding crying and vulnerability, while courageously taking risks—are confronted by the development of health problems, loss of spouses and loved ones, retirement and needing to be a caregiver for ailing family members in later life.

"Who you are in the past is embedded in you," said Kaitlyn Barnes Langendoerfer, a doctoral student in sociology at Case Western Reserve and co-author of the review, which mined narrative data from nearly 100 previously published studies. "Men have trouble dealing with because they've followed a masculinity script that left little room for them to negotiate unavoidable problems."

"In our study, we hear men struggling with grief—which is a vulnerable state—and caregiving, which is associated with femininity," she said. "If they must cry, men feel it's to be done in the home, away from others, even when spouse has died. They have to renegotiate their masculinity in order to deal with what life is bringing their way."

This masculinity "script" still embraced by was outlined as the four-part Blueprint of Manhood, first published by sociologist Robert Brannon when the men in the studies were entering adulthood in the 1970's. The blueprint included:

No Sissy Stuff - men are to avoid being feminine, show no weaknesses and hide intimate aspects of their lives.

The Big Wheel - men must gain and retain respect and power and are expected to seek success in all they do.

The Sturdy Oak - men are to be ''the strong, silent type" by projecting an air of confidence and remaining calm no matter what.

Give 'em Hell - men are to be tough, adventurous, never give up and live life on the edge.

"We're all aging; it's a fact of life. But as men age, they're unable to be who they were, and that creates a dissonance that is hard to reconcile," said Langendoerfer, who studies aging in men.

"We need to better understand how older men adapt to their stressors—high suicide rates, emotions they stifle, avoiding the doctor—to hopefully help them build better lives in older age," she said.

The review, published in the journal Men and Masculinities, was co-written by Edward Thompson Jr., an emeritus professor of sociology and anthropology at the College of the Holy Cross and now an affiliate of the Department of Sociology at Case Western Reserve.

Most of the data came from studies with white, middle-class men from the United States, Canada and Europe who had stable careers. "More research inclusive of different races and socioeconomic backgrounds is needed to obtain a more complete picture of how older men adapt," Langendoerfer said.


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Citation: Older men cling to 1950s, '60s blueprint of masculinity (2016, October 19) retrieved 21 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-10-older-men-1950s-60s-blueprint.html
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Oct 19, 2016
The kids I meet have reverted to the 1940's.

Pitiful.

Oct 19, 2016
The title is (intentionally?) misleading. Older men simple cling to THE blueprint of masculinity. Today's view are not masculine in any way. Quite the opposite actually. Saying today's view is a new 'masculinity' is pure feminist BS.

Oct 19, 2016
The "masculinity handbook"? Never saw it. This is fiction. Pure BS.

BTW, those four characteristics are what women (still) say they want in men when they are carefully asked for their opinions. This is just hideous shit. This is no different than if I said to the good doctor, "go back to your kitchen". Insensitive, intolerant, elitist, political snobbery!

Oct 19, 2016
Unfortunately our prerogative is to try to reproduce until we die. We have little choice in the matter. So the older we get the more deluded we are.

I wonder if kaitlyn is single?

Oct 19, 2016
On the flip-side of that coin ... What about the 'cougars'? You know, the 50 to 70 year old women whom seem to follow a similar pattern to what is identified in this paper.

Oct 19, 2016
"A man is only as old as the woman he feels." That is Groucho's joke and Trump's idolatry.

Oct 19, 2016
Bull shit aside, women are better prepared being old?
This study is written by a kid without any experience, no wonder it hangs on the stereotypes of 16 year old boys she couldn't date.

Oct 19, 2016
Bull shit aside, women are better prepared being old?
This study is written by a kid without any experience, no wonder it hangs on the stereotypes of 16 year old boys she couldn't date
Women have menopause. Women also have a natural fear of childbirth which increases with age because it becomes more dangerous and painful.

This saves them a lot of grief.

Oct 19, 2016
Getting old does not prevent men from being men any more than growing old prevents women from being women.

"We're all aging; it's a fact of life. But as men age, they're unable to be who they were, and that creates a dissonance that is hard to reconcile," said Langendoerfer, who studies aging in men.


Neither men nor women can remain young and neither have the prerogatives of youth. This does not constitute a dissonance, it is simply what and who we are.

Oct 19, 2016
Nothing so special about the 50's and 60's. The article reveals more about the authors of the study than it reveals about the subject matter.

"Who you are in the past is embedded in you," - Such a profound revelation that I'm lost in wonder. The young lady must be a pharken genius........

Oct 19, 2016
Waitaminut - there was a BLUEPRINT ?!?
F*#k -
Nobody ever tells me anything...

Oct 19, 2016
"Most of the data came from studies with white, middle-class men"

Incidentally the same demographics that overwhelmingly votes for Trump. Honi soit qui mal y pense ...

Oct 19, 2016
So a young women who's brain only fairly recently fully formed biologically (assuming she's older than 28) thinks that she understands decades old cultural realities, regional / class / racial variations of cultural expectations, aging, masculinity, elder men, the psychological effects of six wars in approx 100 years on the way the male gender mediates reality (two of them surreally horrifying beyond comprehension) and the associated transgenerational epigenetic effects of this legacy of strength in the face of unrelenting threat and stress...so well that she can characterize crying in private as some sort of "unequipped" failure rather than beneficial adaptive behavior. There are many things I could say in response to this absurdity, myself being one of these apparently emotionally crippled old men, but I'll just say...how amusing, and leave it at that.

Oct 19, 2016
And....
what blueprint of masculinity were older men of the 50's ad 60's clinging to...?
And...
Wouldn't there be a corresponding female blueprint?

Oct 20, 2016
This article made me cry

Oct 20, 2016
Better to be a weak-willed and minded metrosexual all your life? Main reason weakness is a concern today is that while people are surviving longer, they are getting illnesses that used to be rare, which debilitate men and women. Dementia, crippling arthritis, diabetes, etc. If people were still dying (men) at 65, this wouldn't be a concern.

Oct 20, 2016
I think Kaitlyn is suffering under her own version of 70s tabula rasa, that behaviors are voluntary decisions and not evolutionary predispositions.

Boys can't be girls and girls can't be boys - they tried and they failed. Time to move on.

Oct 20, 2016
Are the findings the problem, or the fact that "Kaitlyn" (do you know her?) has the gall to be studying older men? And if the photo at the top were of the co-author, a male scholar who seems to be over 70, would you be as put out?

Oct 20, 2016
Are the findings the problem, or the fact that "Kaitlyn" (do you know her?) has the gall to be studying older men? And if the photo at the top were of the co-author, a male scholar who seems to be over 70, would you be as put out?
Are you being so defensive of legitimate questions regarding the article because there is a large picture of the face of a young woman accompanying it?

Your response is also biological. Why dont you take a minute and think about it?

Oct 20, 2016
Are you being so defensive of legitimate questions regarding the article because there is a large picture of the face of a young woman accompanying it?


Come to think of it, it is as offensive as an old man's face on a "scientific" report about female youth sexuality. What a douche!

On the other hand, if she said *anything* sensible then folk would have just read it.

Oct 20, 2016
So a young women who's brain only fairly recently fully formed biologically (assuming she's older than 28) thinks that she understands...


I've sure she's made an extensive study of it. She does seem to be doing a lot of gerontology, judging from her papers:
https://www.resea...ications

.. myself being one of these apparently emotionally crippled old men...


If you say so, Joe. Did you embody "the prevailing cultural and societal hallmarks of manliness as younger [man] ..."? Then she might be talking about you.

Hey, do you do any "Ecopsychology and Somatic Psychology"? Saying something like "associated transgenerational epigenetic effects" makes it sound like you might.

Oct 20, 2016
I don't understand why this article is illustrated with a badly cropped photo of the author! If there is a blueprint for men it would be centred on cherishing women. By this standard it appears that men are now less masculine than they were and this is not a good thing for women. A consequence of this is that women and men seem to be converging on a single stereotype.

Oct 21, 2016
If you look at Kaitlyn Barnes' CV on her university page, you will find she has studied older mens' sexuality quite a bit. That's queer.

No, it would still fall under heterosexual...

Oct 21, 2016
This article draws a straw-man argument that masculinity among older men is somehow not able to deal with long term disability or loss of a spouse.

I'd like to know how they started with that conclusion, because I know more than a few anecdotal cases where the opposite was true.

Oct 21, 2016
If you look at Kaitlyn Barnes' CV on her university page, you will find she has studied older mens' sexuality quite a bit. That's queer
How come? I once had a 23yo female proctologist and I'm very sorry to say that it was the best exam I ever had.

That was also entirely biological.

Oct 21, 2016
'Masculinity' has been honed by the environment and societies for many, many millennia. The hubris that our current society (which is an aberration in many ways) somehow negates old-style masculinity is typical of the arrogance and ignorance of so many 'scientists' in academia nowadays.

When the barbarians arrive in full force we'll see how their new and improved 'masculinity' fares.

Oct 24, 2016
So Otto, when she stuck up her hand and said, "How many fingers am I holding up?" - what did you say?


Otto replied, "Too few".


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