In the aftermath of the #metoo movement, one of the focal points of discussion has been the way that toxic masculinity is harmful to both women and men. Our outdated views of masculinity–especially the notion that men need to keep all of their feelings bottled up–has serious consequences.
A recent episode of NPR’s “The Hidden Brain” highlighted the way that the lack of male bonding negatively impacts a man’s physical health. An analysis of nearly 150 studies has found that people with strong social bonds have a 50 percent lower mortality risk than those who do not. The shocking data has led some sociologists to conclude that men who feel lonely or isolated have an even greater risk of death than people who don’t exercise or are clinically obese.
Now, Japanese sexual health and wellness company Tenga has pulled back the curtain on some of the other effects of outdated assumptions of masculinity, in a recently-released report based on results on the responses of 13,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 74 across 18 countries. Much of the survey focused on how men viewed having and expressing feelings and the result this attitude had on their wellbeing.
Approximately 90 percent of American men said they believe men value traditionally masculine traits such as aggression, assertiveness, and physical strength. But 88 percent of men claimed to be in touch with their emotions, and 77 percent said they were comfortable talking about their feelings or personal challenges, indicating that perhaps men are actually changing, and not as many men value traditionally masculine characteristics as you would think.
This is particularly true of younger generations, since 50 percent of Baby Boomers, 59 percent of Millennials, and 62 percent of Gen Xers defined themselves as men who “Feel More”—in other words: are open about their feelings and desires.
This is great news, because the survey found that being men who reported feeling more enjoyed a variety of wellness benefits. Their emotional connection with their partner was 20 percent better, they had much higher levels of body confidence, and they are 20 percent more happy with their sex life than the average man. They are 23 percent more likely to use sex toys, and are 18 percent more sexually satisfied with their partner.
They are also happier with their lives in general, and have better overall health. Men who “feel more” were even found to be 11 percent more likely to be part of a gym than those who play things close to the chest. And we all know how much exercise impacts our physical health and extends our lifespan.
As society changes, women’s sexual preferences change as well. A recent study, for example, found that women are no longer interested in flashy men with lots of resources, and another study found that while a woman might enjoy a strong-jawed man for a brief sexual fling, she’s more likely to choose one with feminine features, that denote empathy and understanding, for a long-term partner. This implies that never crying in front of a woman is no longer a prerequisite for someone to think you’re a “real man.”
This research corroborates with the Tenga study, which found that 91 percent of people looking for a male partner said their ideal man was comfortable discussing sex and mental health, cared about social issues, and was in touch with his feelings and those of the people around him.
“It’s important we realize being empathetic and open to the needs of yourself and those around you isn’t weak or taboo, but rather a necessity to break down social stigmas and allow everyone to be their authentic selves,” Dr. Chris Donaghue, PhD, LCSW, CST, ACS, licensed sex therapist and Tenga brand ambassador, said. “These social stereotypes tell men to disconnect from their emotions, objectify women and resolve conflicts through violence which, as we’ve seen, end up hurting men and women at large, on a global level.” If you’re looking for ways to get in touch with your feelings, master the 20 Easy Ways to Increase Your Emotional Intelligence.
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