“Understanding Masculinity” by Radhika Chopra

There are numerous scholarly articles, such as “Understanding Masculinity”, by Radhika Chopra, Chaitali Dasgupta and Mandeep K. Janeja, that discusses the underlying connection on toxic masculinity and how it affects a male’s mental health and emotions. With the rising evolution of feminism and changing societal norms on gender roles, representation for young males affected by traditional gender norms became overshadowed. From continuous research upon this topic, my curiosity expanded when a male friend of mine told me he could not recall the last time he cried. Every time he was close to crying, he decided to hold back the tears and go on about his day. Further questioning him, he explained to me that men are not supposed to cry, and that it was common knowledge for males not to show their emotions in times of vulnerability. He went into detail about how he has to portray a “strong” image every single day, and that it was damaging to his mental health. This led me to wonder about the effects of toxic masculinity and how it can affect young males. With this thought in mind, entertainment, such as social media, may play an influential part in promoting such masculinity and can affect how a male will behave because of its global accessibility.

Femininity is “a set of attributes or behaviors generally associated with women” (Merriam Webster). For centuries, society described femininity as women who were elegant, tidy, and poised. However, through time, society has grown into a civilization where women have become more valued and can act in any way they want without conformity. According to “Gender Development Research in Sex Roles: Historical Trends and Future Directions” by Kristina M. Zosuls, Cindy Faith Miller, Diane N. Ruble, Carol Lynn Martin, and Richard A. Fabes, women’s sex roles have drastically changed, from being housewives to money makers, from being powerless to powerful, or even dependent to independent, whilst men’s sex roles became more of a slow process. Essentially, as society progressed, men became more understanding of women and valued them. In a way, this contributes to the underrepresentation of young males affected by toxic masculinity because feminism has risen, therefore society took a shift towards focusing more on a specific gender over the other. As wonderful as this is, the idea of masculinity has been overshadowed and should be addressed on the same level as feminism.

Masculinity is “a set of attributes or behaviors generally associated with men” (Merriam Webster). For such a long period of time, the world lived in a male dominated society. While women were viewed as useless and weak, men were considered strong and brave. Women were nothing beside them. As civilization progressed, the word “masculinity” has evolved, and words such as caring or loving can also be associated with it. However, the idea of men’s gender roles slowly progressing from strong to caring is still a factor that has not been dealt with properly. This is where the toxicity comes in. While women fight for their respect, men are still expected to act a certain way. For example, if a male cries, he is considered weak. Expectations like these play a role in how men act towards themselves and the people around them.

Toxic masculinity is “traditional masculine norms that can be harmful to men, women, and society overall.” (Merriam Webster). The difference between general masculinity and toxic masculinity is the evolution of gender roles. Qualities for masculinity change over time and adapt to the generation using it. However, with toxicity, traditional norms are continued and do not evolve within the society. According to “Real Men Don’t”: Constructions of Masculinity and Inadvertent Harm in Public Health Interventions” by Paul J. Fleming, Joseph G. L. Lee, and Shari L. Dworkin, toxic masculinity can drastically affect a person’s health and those around them. This research addresses the traditional societal norms that men follow if they want to be considered as a “real man”, and the negative health effects that can occur to them.

Entertainment is “a form of activity that gives pleasure and delight to an audience” (Merriam Webster). With this definition, I want to focus on the social media aspect of entertainment, as it has the power to affect numerous young males on a global scale. Research studies such as, “Men, Masculinities, and Violence” by Alankaar Sharma and Arpita Das Male, “Development in Young Adult Novels: Mapping the Intersections Between Masculinity, Fatal Illness, Male Queerness, and Brotherhood” by Ruth Nelson, and “Masculinity and Depression: A Longitudinal Investigation of Multidimensional Masculine Norms Among College Men” by Derek K. Iwamoto, Jennifer Brady, Aylin Kaya, and Athena Park, show the effects that toxic masculinity portrayed in novels, have on men becoming violent, toxic masculinity and its mental health effects, and toxic masculinity and its relationship with college men and depression. However, there are few research studies that address the issue of young men’s in teenage years, physical behavior when faced with entertainment in social media. It is important to understand how such toxicity is affecting young males because it can negatively influence social interaction and dig a deeper hole in underrepresentation for men. Seeing how entertainment has the ability to promote toxic masculinity on a global scale leads to my question: To what extent does toxic masculinity, through entertainment, affect males’ 13-19 physical behavior?

In order to see the extent of which toxic masculinity from entertainment can change a male’s 13-19 physical behavior, the Correlational Method is the preferred method of performing the research. This method is to “collect data and determine the level of correlation between variables” (AP Research Student Workbook). In other words, the Correlational Method is a tool that allows the researcher to examine the relationship between several variables through the use of gathered data.

The Correlational Method is convenient compared to other qualitative methods. For instance, Content Analysis is a qualitative method, used in a manner to” analyze text and make inferences” (AP Research Student Workbook). However, this method has the flaw of obtaining possible noncredible sources. Content Analysis relies on text that may not be current or have unsupported content. Compared to the Content Analysis method, the Correlational Method uses direct data from the participant themselves and cannot be altered in any way. In a circumstance where there are no specific studies pertaining to the extent of which toxic masculinity can affect a male’s physical behavior, the Correlational Method is a significant method because it guides the researcher in analyzing the patterns within the gathered data, and determining what relations the variables have with each other.

With the use of the Correlational Method, inputs will be gathered through a given survey. I will find male participants by consulting with teachers, program managers, or associates to accumulate my results. After having at least 10 participants for this research, the answers provided by these individuals will then be used to create a relationship, determining whether toxic masculinity through entertainment does have an effect on a male’s physical behavior or not.

Understanding the sensitivity of the topic and the age range, two consent forms were made before proceeding with the research. The first consent form is called “Guardian Consent Form”. It includes my contact information, the focused age group, the definition of entertainment and toxic masculinity, the purpose of the study, the risks and benefits, the kinds of questions to expect, and how the participants’ identity will be kept confidential. Since the age group also focuses on underage males, a guardian’s consent form is needed to permit the participant to fill out the given survey. The second consent form is call “Participant’s Consent Form”. It includes the same details as my “Guardian Consent Form.”

The group of focus are men at the ages of 13 to 19. The intent of keeping this research open to only men of 13 to 19 is because teenagers are still growing up, and their minds can easily be influenced with the use of social media. Thus, this age range is a crucial time for toxic masculinity to foster. The reason behind questioning teenagers, rather than males ages 20 and above, is because the researcher can easily associate with participants of her own age range.

With information concerning the gender and age of this research, it is also important to consider the risks and benefits that are included. As mentioned on the first and second consent form, the risk in participating in the survey is the possibility of feeling triggered by past toxic masculinity experiences. The benefit of contributing to the study is having a platform to further share the person’s story, without fear of judgement or having their identity exposed.

After providing a detailed consent form about my research, the participants will move on to answering the survey questions. The short answer responses asked are formulated in a manner to be specific to the central question of the research: To what extent does toxic masculinity, through entertainment, affect males’ 13-19 physical behavior? Some of the questions incorporated will ask the participant about his toxic masculinity experience corresponding to the use of entertainment, defined as YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter, and how the toxic masculinity through entertainment has affected their physical behavior. The answers to these questions are significant, as far as grasping on to the interpretations of how toxic masculinity through entertainment can affect the growing generation in today’s society.

By no means are the questions given to trigger the participant or make them feel forced to answer the questions. Every party has the choice to pick and choose the questions they feel comfortable answering and can stop whenever they feel just. Identities are kept anonymous and names will not be revealed. Furthermore, my contact number and email address have been provided in the form, in case of any questions, concerns, or clarity. The consent forms and survey will be sent out electronically through email. The participant may choose to print out the consent form, sign it, and email it back to me or electronically sign it with a drawing pen. The survey can be answered on a Word document or printed out and written.

Once data is collected, I will observe the pattern of how each question is answered, then use that to my knowledge to seek a relation between the responses. Finally, the analysis will be constructed, after being given a clear understanding of every party’s experiences provided through the survey.