Gender Equality Essay

Tyrone Cloyd
Baltimore, MD
Gender equality has been a social concern since man step foot on earth. When we think of gender equality discrimination against women is what comes to mind, but in recent years psychologist and sociologist have began to study how men are discriminated against. It is considered general knowledge that men still make more money a year then women, and it is true that men hold most of the position of power in society. Recent studies have concluded that there is an aspect of society that discriminates against men. This aspect of society is deeply rooted in the American culture, and it is hard to name, to discuses, and to study. Gender roles for men, then are viewed not as biological givens, but as social constructions created from the expectations of social forces such as parents, teachers, peers, and the media about what constitute masculinity {(Pleck, 1995) Mahalik 1998}. Men are socialized to believe in the importance of success, power, and competitiveness. Because the male socialization experience is theorized to create negative feelings such as anxiety and shame related to all things feminine, the development of rigid traditional male roles, or male gender role conflict {(O’Neil, Helms, Gable, David, & Wrightsman, 1986) Mahalik 1998}.
Looking at male emotional socialization from the framework of the gender role strain paradigm, many boys are required to block their feelings and restrict the expression of their vulnerable and caring emotions {(Levant) Mahalik 1998}. Because of this, “a man experiences any particular facet of self that he considers feminine with great conflict and anxiety, because he believes it threatens his manhood” (Mahalik, Cournoyer, Defranc, Cherry, and Napolitano 1998). As a result of this fear of femininity, men are believed to over conform to traditional male roles as a coping strategy to avoid femininity {(Pleck, 1995) Mahalik 1998}.
Men are taught to use their roles prescribed by society as a psychological defense. When a man is confronted with an situation instead of dealing with the problem, men tend to fall back on the stereotypical masculine gender roles. Men hold their emotions inside and although they may not be immediately affected our health and well – being suffers in the long run. The improper socialization of males in American society affects all demographics of society. It affects men across socio – economic classes, and races and cultures. Improper socialization of males is an interesting topic to research and study because it affects the entire male population and it is going to take society as a whole working together to correct the problem.

One way to began changing how males are socialized is to make the population aware of the psychological effects “gender role conflicts”. In mental health institutions, at hospitals, and colleges and universities there is an array of journals, pathlets, and articles written about how women are discriminated and socialized. With the new millennium approaching the effects of male socialization needs to be an equally important issue on the public policy agenda. More research needs to be done and published so that the message can spread throughout the country and the scholarly community.

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For background information two articles from the Journal of Counseling Psychology will be discus. The first, “Men’s Gender Role Conflict and Use of Psychological Defenses” by James R. Mahilik, Robert J. Cournoyer, William DeFranc, Marcus Cherry, and Jeffrey M. Napolitano examines the way males are socialized and the way that their socialization affects how they respond in anxious situations. Specifically, the researchers are trying to determine if there is a relationship between stereotypical macho male roles and psychological defense mechanisms.

There were one hundred and fifteen participants in this study. All participants in this study were males. Some of the participants were college students, others were from various clubs and organizations, and others were from church groups. The average age of the participants was 26.45 years. The participants were from a variety of cultural backgrounds, but the vast majority were white. The participants were first asked to complete the Gender Role Conflict Scale. This scale measures success, power, and competition; restrictive emotionality; restrictive affectionate behavior between men; and conflicts between work and family relations. The Defense Mechanism Inventory was used to measure the use of defense mechanisms. The Defense Mechanism Inventory measures the five clusters of defenses. The clusters include: turning object, projection, principalization, turning against self, and reversal. The participants read ten short stories that describe interpersonal relationships and involve some level of conflict. Each story was followed by four questions. The questions asked the participants to think about how they would act in the situation portrayed in the stories. The findings demonstrated that men’s gender role conflict does indeed serve as a psychological defense. All of the gender role conflict factors modeled in the analysis were significantly related to immature defenses.
The second article, “Perceptions of Parent-Child Relationships and Masculine Role Conflicts of College Men” by Ann R. Fischer and Glenn E. Good examines the relationship between men’s gender role conflict / stresses and men’s perceived quality relationship with parents. Participants in this study first completed the Gender Role Conflict Scale. This scale measures the level of endorsement for traditional masculine roles. The Gender Role Conflict Scale was also used to measure parental attachment. The first measure used was the Inventory of Parent Peer Attachment. The second measure used to evaluate parental attachment is the PAQ. This scale measures the overall quality of attachment to parents. Participants responded to questions using a five point Likert scale. One indicated poor quality of attachment and five indicated a high quality of attachment. This study found that men who do not have a good relationship with their parents are more likely to have masculine role conflicts. Men who had a good relationship with their parents had less masculine role conflicts.
Both articles indicate that males are having a difficult time balancing their true feelings and the role that society expects them to play. The first article clearly demonstrates that males use their perceived masculinity to get out of uncomfortable situations. The second article provides insight as to why men shield their true feelings. It concluded that men with strict masculine roles tend to have poor relationship with their parents.

To determine if males are programmed by society to express masculine view point just to uphold an image or gender role, a five question survey was administered to ten randomly selected men of various races shopping in a local department store. The survey concluded that men do hold in their emotions during anxious situations and live up to stereotypes. The men in the survey was of all races, four white, three black, and two Asian American. The race of the men in the survey did not have an effect on the way the participants answered the question. The participants were not required to give the age. The survey asked the participants five questions. Each question had three responses which were graded on a scale of 0-2. The score of zero equaling less masculine socialization and 2 equaling the stereotypical response. The first question seven out of ten chose the letter C which indicates a stereotype answer. As for the second question 3 chose the stereotype C, 4 chose the letter A which is in the middle, and 3 chose B which in the question had a rating of 0. The responses for questions three, four and five followed the same patterns. Majority of the participants scored in the 2 or 1 rang. Know survey form was completely a score of 0 or a score of 2. The participants selected the chose which represented a 1 or 2 with majority of the participants choosing the answer with a value of 2. All ten participants reflected macho attitudes and stereotypes.
This survey did have its limitation and know way reflects the attitudes of men across this nation or in this area. A correlation research design was used for this study so causality could not be determined. As a result the truth value of the reposes could be deminish.
Despite these short comings the study does conclude that males use their perceived masculinity to get out of uncomfortable situations. I think the way men and women are socialized is very interesting. Men are taught to remain stoic in times of stress and women are taught to be helpless and needy. If President Clinton was a women during the Monica Lewinsky trial his advisors may have told him to look as sad and pitiful as possible and to shed as many tears as you can. Since Clinton is a man, he had to remain calm, collected, and always under control. This is how our society expects men to behave.

Fisher R., and Good G.(1998). Perception of parent – child relationship and Masculine Role Conflict of College Men. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 45(3), 346-352.

Mahalik R., Cournoyer R., DeFranc W., Cherry M., & Napolitano J., (1998). Men’s Gender Role Conflict and Use of Psychological Defenses. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 45(3), 247-254
Please complete this survey the answers will be used for a class project only.

1. How would feel if a good friend of yours passed away.

a. I would cry, and be down for a several days. (0)
b. I would control my emotions, and help the family (1)
c. I would deal with it and move on (2)
2. How would you react to the birth of your child
a. ecstatic, but I did not cry (1)
b. I cried with my wife (0)
c. I thought about how much money it would cost (2)
3. How would you react to a rejection letter from a job
a. apply for another one (0)
b. inquire about why (1)
c. inquire about why, spend some days down (2)
4. How do you feel about the Lewensky scandal
a. I do not cheat (0)
b. People are going to cheat at the work place (2)
c. It was unfortunate but I do not see the big deal (1)
5. How do you feel if your spouse or girlfriend comments on another man
a. I am secure with myself (0)
b. A little insure (1)
c. I would plan my next trip to the gym (2)


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