It has been known for some time that men do not live as long as women, but new research from Duke University suggests toxic masculinity, the health consequences of traditional male behaviors, may be to blame.
The Duke researcher behind these new findings, Haider Warraich, said the disparity in life expectancies between males and females has been observed, but has been attributed to differences in genetics rather than differences in behavior.
“Men are less likely, even when they are sick, to identify as someone who needs help,” he said.
Allen O’Barr, the director of Counseling and Psychological Services at UNC, said, proportionally, men are less likely to seek medical treatment than women are. However, O’Barr said he believes the forces keeping men from seeking help may have more to do with culture than gender.
“I can definitely say to you that we see more women than we do men at CAPS. I think we see probably 60 percent women and 40 percent men,” he said. “There are some men from particular cultures where the culture itself causes them to delay coming in because it’s just not something that’s discussed.”
The influence of upbringing does not stop at culture, though, O’Barr said. He said boys may adopt hyper-masculine behaviors to blend in and avoid being bullied.
Warraich said upbringing, specifically the differing ways boys and girls are raised, plays a large role in the way men present themselves.
“If a boy is in pain, what they’re asked to do is ‘man up’ and ignore the pain or fight through it,” he said. “That’s a very important metaphor and pattern that shapes how boys think and develop.”
Taylor Hargrove, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of sociology at UNC, said in an email that men’s behavior does not only affect men themselves but can also affect the women around them.