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The Masculinity Model

What is The Masculinity Model and how does it impact on the behaviour of men?

When men publicly fail to ‘prove’ their masculinity, they perceive this as an endorsement of personal weakness, and therefore vulnerability, rather than an indication that the expectations of masculinity are impossible to maintain. Brene Brown (2017), a shame researcher, underscores the strong relationship between shame and violence (Brown, 2017).

The difference comes in with the amount of investment the male has in belonging to and taking advantage of, the dominant masculine model and the degree which he is willing to forgo benefits such as intimacy, closeness, nurturing, connection, and emotional capacity, for example. All of these aspects of being fall outside the Man ‘box’ of acceptable masculine emotions.

Man standing in box called 'the man box' holding gym weights above his head. The words 'intimacy, closeness, nurturing, connection and emotion capacity' are around the box

Understanding this about the men you, or your organisation, may have contact with helps to frame what ‘filters’ through when the men are listening to your questions. No amount of attempted persuasion or logical and reasonably compelling argument can counter the unrelenting message that runs through these men’s lives of ‘do not be perceived as weak’ (Brown, 2017).

To be outside the man box, for some, is a dangerous place emotionally, psychologically even physically, as the dominant (alpha) males reinforce the expectations of the group.

Of course, this is helpful to understanding when addressing men’s perspectives, beliefs and values through structured behavioural change programs or through assessments or interviews with men who use violence in their relationships.

Shadow image of tow men drinking, one telling the other "Don't be a pussy mate, sort her out"

What knowing this does not do, is excuse any of the behaviours or present these insights as causal. Too many other men have been subjected to the same constraining or limiting beliefs about masculinity and have found ways to negotiate the ‘traps’ hegemonic masculinity presents.

Why the men choose to be violent gives all of us committed to women’s and children’s safety a rich source of contradiction.

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Understanding Coercive Control

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