Men Who Believe and Support Gender Equality Live Happier Lives
Even though more women are becoming the breadwinners in their families these days, most men still get bombarded with messages about how they’re the ones who have to be financially successful so they can support their families. This pressure is mainly tied to how we’ve traditionally defined masculinity. Men should be providers, leaders, and protectors of others. These are all exceptional qualities, of course. Problems arise when not having those qualities becomes a source of shame and calls into question a person’s identity as a man. Men being providers is great, but it is stressful when men are expected to be the only providers. So why is general equality so important?
Married Men Experience Stress When Their Wives Earn More Money
Research shows married men are starting to experience increased levels of stress. This happens when their wives begin to earn more money and contribute a larger or even dominant proportion of the household income. A new study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family suggests the lingering male breadwinner myth combined with the changing times may actually be affecting men’s physical health.
Financially Dependent Men Tend To Have Higher Allostatic Loads
332 men, each of whom was married or in a serious relationship with a woman, took part in the research. The men were asked about their beliefs about gender and their household income streams. The researchers also took urine, saliva, and blood samples to assess a health factor known as the “allostatic load,” which refers to physical “wear and tear” on the body due to stress.
The lead author of the study, Joe Kim, explained that the previous studies have found that if men went through adverse experiences like poverty as a child, they have higher allostatic load as an adult.
Also, men who have traditional beliefs about gender roles (men should be the breadwinner) but are financially dependent on their girlfriends or wives, they tend to have higher allostatic loads. Men who subscribed to restrictive gender norms and who don’t believe in gender equality tended to experience more physical stress when their female partners outearned them.
In conclusion, it is good to remember that in order to help men transition into our increasingly egalitarian future smoothly, it’s important that we all stop perpetuating archaic scripts around what men “should” and “shouldn’t” do only because they’re men.