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Men Who Endorse Hegemonic Ideals of Masculinity Can Become Socially Isolated: Study

Men who believe 'toxic masculinity' can become socially isolated or lonely

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The study shows how toxic masculinity also has detrimental consequences for the men who subscribe to these ideals. Pixabay

Researchers have found that men who endorse hegemonic ideals of masculinity — or ‘toxic masculinity’ — can become socially isolated as they age, impacting their health, well-being and overall happiness.

For the findings, published in the journal Sex Roles, the researchers analysed nearly 5,500 US older women and men from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Survey, which administered the Hegemonic Masculinity for ‘Older Men Scale’. “When we age, there are certain ways that we can ensure we maintain our health and well-being,” said study reseacher Stef Shuster, Assistant Professor at Michigan State University in the US.

“Having people with whom we can talk about personal matters is a form of social support. If people only have one person that they can share information with, or sometimes even no people, they don’t really have an opportunity to reflect and share,” Shuster added.

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Not all older men are likely to be socially isolated. Pixabay

According to the researchers, when issues arise, like health or financial problems, it puts individuals in an incredibly disadvantaged position if they don’t have anyone to share this with, which also might have negative consequences for their mental health.

“Social isolation is common among aging adults. Changes such as retirement, widowhood or moving to a new home can disrupt their existing friendships,” said study co-author Celeste Campos-Castillo from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The study revealed that older men who endorse the ideals of toxic masculinity can become siloed off as they age. Not all older men are at risk — just those who favor a particular set of ideals, it added. “A lot of gender research is based on simplistic binaries of women or men, feminine or masculine, either you’re hegemonically masculine or you’re not,” shuster said.

“Because of the data set that we’re using, our study actually looks at masculinity on a spectrum,” shuster added. The study also found that embracing toxic masculinity is self-harming.”Often, toxic masculinity is a term that we use to describe how masculinity affects other people, especially women,” shuster said. But this study shows how toxic masculinity also has detrimental consequences for the men who subscribe to these ideals.

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The very premise of hegemonic masculinity in some ways is based on the idea of isolation because it’s about being autonomous and not showing a lot of emotion. It’s hard to develop friendships living this way, the researchers said.

The researchers suggest social isolation may be alleviated by embracing an alternative understanding of masculinity that doesn’t rely on independence and toughness as the only way to be ‘real men,’ or at least easing up on the principles of hegemonic masculinity. Still, shuster recognises that the higher men score on the scale of hegemonic masculinity, the less likely they are to change their views or seek help. (IANS)

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Women Live Longer Than Men: Study

New Study Looks into Why Females Live Longer than Males

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Among humans, women’s life span is almost 8% on average longer than men’s life span. Pixabay

By Zlatica Hoke

Women live longer than men across the world and scientists have by and large linked the sex differences in longevity with biological foundation to survival. A new study of wild mammals has found considerable differences in life span and aging in various mammalian species.

Among humans, women’s life span is almost 8% on average longer than men’s life span. But among wild mammals, females in 60% of the studied species have, on average, 18.6% longer lifespans. The ratio is considerably different for different groups of mammals.

An international team of scientists led by Jean-François Lemaître, from the University Lyonin France, collected information on age-related mortality for 134 populations of 101 wild mammalian species.

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Women live longer than men across the world and scientists have by and large linked the sex differences in longevity with biological foundation to survival. Pixabay

“It was surprising to observe that this gender gap in lifespan often exceeds the one observed in humans and is, at the same time, extremely variable across species,” said Lemaître. 

“For example, lionesses live at least 50% longer in the wild than male lions,” said Tamás Székely, from the University of Bath, one of the authors of the study.

“We previously thought this was mostly due to sexual selection – because males fight with each other to overtake a pride and thus have access to females, however our data do not support this,” said Székely. 

Scientists have found that even though females consistently live longer than males, the risk of mortality does not increase more rapidly in males than in females across species. Therefore, they say, there must be other, more complex factors at play, such as environmental conditions in which the animals live and sex-specific growth, survival and reproduction through the history of the species.

For example, the authors of the study say, roaming males could be exposed to more environmental pathogens. This was noticed in three populations of the bighorn sheep.

The magnitude of the lifespan gap could also be shaped by local environmental conditions with a trade-off between reproduction and survival. In some species, males allocate more resources to sexual competition and reproduction, which, scientists say, could lead to bigger sex differences in lifespans.

“Another possible explanation for the sex difference is that female survival increases when males provide some or all of the parental care,“ said Székely. “Giving birth and caring for young becomes a significant health cost for females and so this cost is reduced if both parents work together to bring up their offspring.” 

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Men and women symbols on texture, partial graphic. VOA

In order to measure the extent to which biological differences between the sexes affect life expectancy, scientists plan to compare the data on wild mammals with the data on mammals kept in the zoo, where they do not have to fight with predators or compete for food and mates.

Scientists hope the findings will contribute to better understanding of what affects human longevity. In the past 200 years, the average life expectancy of humans has more than doubled due to improved living conditions and advances in medicine. Yet women continue to live longer than men, suggesting the biological differences also have a role.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the average American man will live to age 76, while the average woman in America will live to age 81. Women can also expect to be healthier than men in their senior years. Experts shave said the gap is due to a combination of biological and social differences.

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Men’s hormone testosterone is linked to a decrease in their immune system and risk of cardiovascular diseases as they age. It is also linked to risky behavior: smoking, drinking and unhealthy eating habits.  If diagnosed, men are less likely than women to follow doctor’s advice.  Statistics show that men are more likely to take life-threatening risks and to die in car accidents, or gun fights.

Authors of the new study say the differences between male and female longevity are shaped by complex interactions between local environmental conditions and sex-specific reproductive biology. They say that more research is likely to provide “innovative insights into the evolutionary roots and physiology underlying aging in both sexes.”  (VOA)