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The Adolescent Man Box

The Adolescent Man Box is the first study focusing on the attitudes towards masculinity among Australian adolescents aged 13-17, and how these attitudes impact their mental health, wellbeing, and behaviours.

This study extends The Man Box research previously conducted by Jesuit Social Services with young adult men in Australia as well as existing research with young adult men in the United States, United Kingdom and Mexico released by Promundo in 2017.

A key research question is the level of societal messages regarding the Adolescent Man Box rules as well as the extent to which adolescent boys accept or endorse the rules of the Adolescent Man Box. The four pillars of masculinity (the Adolescent Man Box rules) reflect the following values:

  • Constant efforts to be manly: reflects the norm that boys must maintain a strong and confident persona in order to appear manly – ie, masculinity involving not backing down in challenges.
  • Emotional restriction: reflects assumptions about masculinity involving the hiding of emotions and remaining emotionally invulnerable – ie, ‘real guys’ do not and should not talk about their own emotions, problems, fears, or worries; they should ‘hold it in’ or keep it to themselves.
  • Heterosexism: represents traditions ideas around masculinity as being in opposition to behaviours traditionally considered feminine or ‘gay’ – ie, to be considered manly it is important to avoid behaviours and attitudes that are traditionally thought of as being gay or feminine by others.
  • Social teasing: represents attitudes around the proposal that to be masculine boys must be able to tease their friends and stand up to such teasing when it is directed at them. Social teasing has an important role in helping guys to be able to fit in.