The Hidden Havoc That Sexism Wreaks on Men

Is sexism destroying men? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Sexism broadly is the belief or practices led by the belief in prejudices and stereotypes about gender behaviour, norms and behavioural expectations.

Sexism can limit both men and women from realising their dreams and potential, by expecting them to conform to gender expectations of how they are supposed to behave, what dreams are appropriate for their gender, what price they may pay for non conformity.

But the question asks if it is destroying men, thus focusing our inquiry on how sexism is hurting men. And we aren't short of illustrative examples.

Boys hear about what is and isn't acceptable behaviours pretty much from childhood too. “Boys don't cry”, “stop <doing something> like a girl” (which wins the sexism double whammy award in dismissing both genders at once!) are common lines thrown at boys.

I have written earlier about how young men are deemed expendable with institutions and process design showing little regard for their care, safety and emotional needs. See Shefaly Yogendra's answer to How has loss of freedom, big or small, informed your life?

In my doctoral research, I dug into body image issues that drive unhealthy behaviours. To my surprise I learnt that the Adonis Complex, the term applied to body image issues and dysmorphia affecting men, didn't even begin to be studied properly until the 1990s.

Men are often brought up with the idea that they must be the provider, the protector and the main earner, an expectation also often reinforced in traditional romantic practices such as a man being expected to pay on dates. Gross unfairness aside, this can burden a man with unreal responsibilities especially when in a dyadic (typically heterosexual) relationship the partner decides to quit the work force as the family grows.

One might ask if calling this “destruction” isn't overly dramatic. I would say No, it is not.

Men are taught that they are not to feel or express their emotions, from fear to caring to affection. Men are expected to fit body image ideals. Men are expected socially to conform to “player”, “stud” or other sexual behaviour stereotypes.

The last bit here is specially problematic as recent APA research suggests it creates huge mental health issues for men.

“In general, individuals who conformed strongly to masculine norms tended to have poorer mental health and less favorable attitudes toward seeking psychological help, although the results differed depending on specific types of masculine norms,” said lead author Y. Joel Wong, PhD, of Indiana University Bloomington. The study was published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology®.

These weird sexist expectations can destroy men's view of themselves as well as of their view of women as I have written earlier (see Shefaly Yogendra's answer to Why do so many Indian men see women as sex objects, as evident from the recent BBC documentary, 'India's Daughter'?)

Whichever way we look at it, sexism isn't doing men any favours.

As an inclusive, intersectional feminist, all this bothers me no end and I would be inclined to say strongly that yes, sexism is destroying men.

This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.