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Opening the Man Box

As we embarked on our journey with The Men’s Project, we were keen to understand more about the drivers of violent and anti-social behaviour and to contribute a significant piece of research to the field.

Our first research project was The Man Box – a study of 1,000 young men (aged 18–30 years) about the pressure they feel to conform to a rigid and narrow idea of masculinity and the impact this pressure has on them and those around them. It was the first study of its kind in Australia.

Broadly speaking, the research found that around two-thirds of young men have, since they were children, felt a pressure from society to conform with a view of a ‘real man’ as one who acts tough, is always in control, is the primary bread-winner, has many sexual partners and never shows vulnerability.

Our study went a step further and measured the health and wellbeing of men who either endorsed or rejected these rules about being a ‘real man’. The findings were stark.

Those inside the man box (men who endorse the rigid rules) were twice as likely to have considered suicide in the past two weeks, fourteen times more likely to have used physical violence in the past month and twenty times more likely to self-report sexually harassing a woman in the past month.

This research has informed ongoing work for The Men’s Project in developing training for teachers, sport coaches and other adults in mentor roles so they can help break open the man box for boys and demonstrate a wider variety of positive ways to be a man.

You can read more about The Man Box findings here: bit.ly/man-box-tmp