Survey: Young People See Serious Negative Consequences of Societal Pressure to Act Masculine

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By the Web Editors 1-10-2018

Most young women believe that societal pressure young men face to act masculine promotes sexually aggressive and violent behavior, as well as homophobic attitudes, according to a MTV-PRRI survey report released Jan. 10.

The report, titled Diversity, Division, Discrimination: The State of Young America, surveyed young people ages 15-24 on perceptions on politics, culture, gender, race, ethnicity, biases, and discrimination. Seventy-five percent of young Americans believe that young men face at least some pressure to act in traditionally masculine ways. Almost half of young people believe this pressure to act masculine specifically leads to sexually aggressive (46 percent) or violent behavior (43 percent). Women more likely than men to say that this pressure reinforces sexually aggressive (54 percent versus 37 percent, respectively) or violent (53 percent versus 34 percent, respectively) behavior. 

“In the midst of the critical national conversation now taking place on issues of sexual harassment and assault, this survey shows that young Americans in their teens and early twenties see serious negative consequences flowing from traditional depictions of masculinity,” Robert P. Jones, CEO of PRRI, said in a news release. “Young women, in particular, are worried that these expectations carry within them the seeds of sexually aggressive or even violent behavior.”

According to the report:

White young people are significantly less likely than nonwhite young people to believe young men face societal pressure to behave in traditionally masculine ways. Fewer than one-third (28%) of white young people say young men face a great deal of pressure, compared to 36% of Hispanic, 37% of API, and 43% of black young people. Black and Hispanic young women are particularly likely to perceive this type of pressure: Nearly half of black young women (47%) and Hispanic young women (46%) say young men experience a great deal of pressure to conform to traditional norms concerning masculinity. 

Other findings:

  • Young women are much more likely than men to feel constrained by gender stereotypes (38 percent versus 17 percent, respectively).
  • Most young people (59 percent) who experience discrimination believe it is purposeful, and more than four in ten report fearing for their personal safety.
  • Fifty-five percent of young people report having more conversations about discrimination and bias in the last 12 months.
  • Sixty-four percent of young people support free speech on campus, even if its content is offensive.
  • More than 1 in 3 white young people (36 percent) believe “reverse” discrimination is a serious problem.
  • Nearly one-third of young people, and almost half of white young men, say efforts to increase diversity harm white people.

Read the full report here

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