Men who are misogynistic or tell sexist jokes are more at risk of depression, says new study

It’s linked to insecurity over masculinity, and can lead to mental health problems


Whether its in the recent International Mens Day discussions or the news today that Kanye West has been hospitalised, poor male mental health is a topic it’s, thankfully, harder and harder to avoid. Now, new research says that men who hold misogynistic views are at a greater risk of having mental health issues.

Sexist attitudes are just as harmful to men then, as they are to women, and the men who hold them and chase the quintessential playboy lifestyle are more likely to suffer from depression and bipolar disorder. Crucially, they’re also less likely to seek help for their problems.

The new study, which was carried out in the US and Singapore, looked at how traditional stiff upper lip masculinity, often linked to chauvinistic behaviour towards women, can influence men’s mental stability, and how they linked to other classic ‘manly’ characteristics like competitiveness, risk-taking, status-seeking and homophobia.

Joel Wong of Indiana University Bloomington, who led the study, said that it wasn’t, as previously expected, a high work ethic in men which caused the problems: “Primacy of work was not significantly associated with any of the mental health-related outcomes.

“Perhaps this is a reflection of the complexity of work and its implications for wellbeing. An excessive focus on work can be harmful to one’s health and interpersonal relationships, but work is also a source of meaning for many individuals.”

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It was other stereotypes of masculinity which put men at risk of developing mental health problems, in particular sexism. Dr Wong said: “Sexism is not merely a social injustice, but also has deleterious mental health-related consequences for those who embrace such attitudes.”

This is potentially because holding archaic sexist attitudes towards women can make it more difficult for them to have meaningful and happy relationships. And the masculine stereotype of “self-reliance” only makes these issues more dangerous.

Speaking to The Times, Wong said: “In general, individuals who conformed strongly to masculine norms tended to have poorer mental health and less favourable attitudes toward seeking psychological help, although the results differed depending on specific types of masculine norms.”

“The masculine norms of the playboy and power over women are the norms most closely associated with sexist attitudes.”