This file has overall information on GRC and includes a position paper on why GRC is important (below). Two videos presentation on GRC are also in this file. The first video summarizes the first chapter in O’Neil (2015) and the second one is a call for action for more programs and services to help men and boys.

Next, three published books on GRC are summarized including the first book on women’s GRC (Pommper, 2017). A published interview at UCONN on GRC is also found in this file and 3 publications that summarize GRC’s history over the years can be downloaded.

Navigate to the videos and books by selecting “Overall Information About Gender Role Conflict” in the menu to the left. Position paper is located below.

Position Paper: Four Questions About Men’s Gender Role Conflict and Eight Recommendations

I decided to use ideas and portions of my book (O’Neil, 2015) to write a position paper on gender role conflict (GRC). Not everyone will agree with these positions but what really matters is that more definitive questions are posed and reacted to by others. I raise four questions and make eight recommendations.

I begin with a societal contexts, some history, and definitions of GRC.


Societal Contexts

Today’s conception of gender roles produce ambivalence, confusion, annoyance, and conflict for many people. A transitional vacuum currently exists where old world stereotypes  about sex and gender roles are incompatible with the mandated equality between the sexes and acceptance that  humans can be gendered and express their sexuality in many different ways. Our capacity to accept a new definitions of masculinity and femininity is evolving, but painfully slow and therefore complexity, conflict and confusion exists. For some people denial about gender roles is the way to cope and for others reducing gender roles to simplistic conclusions (“boys will be boys” or the battle of sexes) helps them avoid the emotional turmoil and find security in one’s identity amidst contradiction and paradox.

Historical Perspective: One Change in GRC Over Forty Years

In February 1972, Edmund Muskie, frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, appeared to shed tears as he responded to attacks on his wife in the press—an incident still remembered as contributing to the subsequent collapse of Muskie’s campaign, as many perceived his reaction as that of a weak and less than rational man unfit to lead the nation. Forty years later, Barack Obama expressed tears of gratitude to his staff for helping him win the 2012 election. This and subsequent occasions when the president openly cried were televised repeatedly on national television, and no one, including the media, accused him of being weak or out of control. Indeed, some saw his emotionality as a sign of strength. “Before you take issue with the president’s tears,” wrote Monica Potts in the American Prospect, shortly after his anguished response to the massacre of schoolchildren and their teachers in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, “remember that Obama’s empathy is always what made him seem most presidential.” [December 14, 2012,, accessed April 3, 2013] “

A paradigm shift is occurring in America with regard to our definition of masculinity, the most visible sign of which is the men who are active and engaging fathers with their sons and daughters (Pleck, 2010). As the incidents recounted above vividly demonstrate, something significant is also happening with how our society perceives male emotions. More than ever before, men are being allowed to be more vulnerable and emotional human beings. This transition is hopeful and important, but painfully slow. This book represents a call to action to accelerate it and help men overcome the gender role conflict (GRC) that diminishes their human potential.

I do not consider GRC to be a panacea for explaining the complexity of gender roles in our society. Nonetheless, I do believe that GRC concepts do provide opportunities for people to explore their gender roles using an informed, evidence and data based approach that promotes exploration and dialogue about how restrictive gender roles and sexism negatively affect people’s psychological lives.

The GRC research program is a context to understand the complexity of gender roles in people’s lives. Many people either consciously or unconsciously are conflicted by changing gender roles and do not understand how GRC interacts with their gender role beliefs, identities, and a sexual orientation. For some people, if not many, non-heterosexual/non binary-queer identities are disturbing to them, because these sexual and gender lifestyles conflict with their religious, familial, or ethnic values. Therefore, there are intense passions about gender roles expressed in the cultural wars dynamics of our society that create division, polarization, and hate.

What is the Gender Role Conflict?

General Definition

GRC is a phenomenon caused by social, technological, religious, and societal changes after the Industrial Revolution. Rapid technological and social change have stimulated the deconstruction of traditional gender roles. This gender role change has been unsettling for both sexes and stimulated polarization and intense debate about the meaning of gender role identity, sexual orientations and gender roles. Furthermore, sexist discrimination against women and sexual minorities are commonplace and intensely debated in the context of gender roles. We live in a historical period where the damaging “patriarchal binary” of traditional gender roles conflict with the needs and demands of contemporary life.  In other words, a transitional vacuum exists in which old world stereotypes and traditional gender roles are incompatible with mandated equality between the sexes and the acceptance that human beings can be gendered in many ways and express their sexuality in non-heterosexual orientations. The outcomes of all of this is gender role conflict. This web page reports on what we know about it

GRC is defined as a psychological state in which socialized gender roles have negative consequences for the person or others. It occurs when rigid, sexist, or restrictive gender roles result in personal restriction, devaluation, or violation of others or oneself (O’Neil, 2008). The ultimate outcome of this kind of conflict is the restriction of the human potential of the person experiencing it or a restriction of another person’s potential. GRC has been operationally defined by four psychological domains, three situational contexts, and three personal and interpersonal experiences. These dimensions represent the complexity of gender role conflict in people’s lives.

Expanded or Detailed Definitions of GRC

GRC in an intrapersonal context is a man’s experience of negative emotions and thoughts when experiencing gender role devaluations, restrictions, and violations. These private and many times unconscious dynamics are discussed in more detail below. GRC expressed toward others occurs when the man’s gender role problems cause him to devalue, restrict, or violate someone else, for example, with bullying telling sexist or racist jokes or committing sexual assault. GRC from others occurs when someone devalues, restricts, or violates another person who deviates from or conforms to masculinity ideology and norms. Finally, GRC occurs during gender role transitions that are part of psychosocial development.

The first of the three personal contexts mentioned above is gender role devaluation. Such devaluations are negative critiques of oneself or others when conforming to, deviating from, or violating stereotypical gender role norms of masculinity ideology. They result in a lessening of status, stature, and self-esteem, possibly leading to shame, fear, and anger that may be turned inward and, in turn, cause depression and isolation and a host of psychological and interpersonal problems. Men can devalue themselves, be devalued by others, or devalue someone else.

When a man cannot achieve the expected masculine norms emanating from masculinity ideologies, he may devalue and blame himself. Self-devaluations may, for example, occur when a man fails to meet his expectations for success at work, when he cannot provide for his family, or when he cannot be an effective father or spouse because of work overload, stress, and exhaustion. Other devaluations may occur as the result of lost career dreams, unemployment, traumas, divorce, failure, and decreased sexual stamina.

Devaluations from others, particularly competitors, parents, or family members, can be particularly painful and can trigger defensiveness, withdrawal, and sometimes even violence. Examples of being devalued by others include being bullied or subjected to emasculating remarks that imply the man is a loser, a failure, or somehow inadequate. Men may devalue others when they do not meet or they deviate from expected masculine and feminine norms. Gay men and lesbian women can be targets of devaluations because they deviate from the stereotypes of, respectively, masculinity and femininity. Gender role devaluations can be salient activators of men’s emotional and interpersonal problems.

The second of the three personal and interpersonal experiences is gender role restriction, which implies that GRC confines oneself or others to stereotypical and restrictive norms of masculinity ideology and expected gender roles. Gender role restrictions also result in attempts to control people’s behavior, limit their potential, and decrease human freedom. They occur when masculine and feminine norms prohibit flexibility in work situations and negatively affect family and interpersonal relationships. Such restrictions narrow options and deny people’s needs, and they can result in manipulation and abuses of power. The cost of restricting oneself or others is feelings of loss, guilt, anger, and powerlessness. As with devaluation, men can restrict themselves, be restricted by others, or restrict someone else. Men’s restriction of their own emotions, self-disclosure, and overall communication limits behavioral flexibility and adaptability to life’s unpredictable events. They may, for instance, restrict themselves by devoting their primary energies to work at the expense of their family and parenting roles, which may reduce intimacy, cause work overload, and leave little room for relaxation and a healthy lifestyle. Rigid gender role norms may be forced on others by demanding they conform to one’s own masculinity or femininity ideology, sometimes subjecting them to excessive control, manipulations, criticism, and even emotional abuse.

Gender role violations represent the most severe kind of GRC. They occur when people harm themselves, harm others, or are harmed by others because of destructive gender role norms of masculinity ideology. To be violated means to be victimized and abused, resulting in emotional and physical pain and, sometimes, gender role trauma strain, which can in turn result in severe, negative outcomes in terms of psychological functioning. Men violate themselves by subjecting themselves to overwork, excessive stress, dangerous risks, and abuse of substances to dull painful emotions and life events. Unexpressed emotions like fear, anger, and shame can be internalized, which can cause chronic depression, self-hatred, isolation, serious health problems, and, in some cases, suicide. Gender role violations of others include discriminatory behavior toward women, sexual harassment, homophobic and anti-gay attitudes, emotional abuse, and even sexual and physical assault, all of which stem from stereotypical attitudes about gender roles. Men are violated by others through physical violence, molestations, unfair custody decisions, unjust corporate downsizing, and exposure to dangerous work settings that cause serious injuries. While men’s violation of others is commonly shown or reported in the media, how gender roles contribute to its occurrence is rarely explained.

In sum, gender role devaluations, restrictions, and violations are the personal and interpersonal experience of GRC and are critical to understanding how men become conflicted with their gender roles.

One of most significant contexts is a macro-societal and socio-political perspective on GRC that conceptualizes oppression and social injustices as a result of patriarchal norms and masculine gender roles. This book is about men and women who are oppressed by restrictive gender roles. Oppressed people are individuals who are devalued, restricted, and violated because deviating from expected gender roles or because of their sex, sexual orientation, race, class, ethnicity, national origin or any other diversity indices. Many times the oppressed are those who are not part of the status quo defined as being white, male, heterosexual, middle class, Eurocentric, and American. Even individuals who fit the above majority criteria can be oppressed by sexism and patriarchal values because with discrimination there are the psychological costs for both the victim and the oppressor. For sure, the dominant majority reap benefits from oppressive systems but few people are spared from patriarchal abuses and violence in our capitalist society.


How many  empirical studies have been completed on men’s gender role conflict?

The Gender Role Conflict Scale (GRCS, O’Neil., Helms, Gable, David, & Wrightsman, 1986) measures men’s gender role conflict. There has been increases of published manuscripts, dissertations, and other gender role conflict studies over six time periods. During the 1980s and early 1990s there were less than 30 studies, but by the end of the decade there were 90 and by 2005, there were over 200 studies completed. From 2006-2014, another 80 studies were completed and now in 2024 there have been 585 studies completed.

Currently, 263 (45%) of these studies have been published in the psychological literature in 46 different journals. Three hundred twenty-two doctoral dissertations have used the GRCS and over 180 GRC studies have been presented at the annual APA convention from 1982-2015.  Scholars in the psychology of men indicate that the Gender Role Conflict Scale is the most widely used scale to assess men’s problems. The gender role conflict research program is one of the largest data base on men worldwide.

Demographics of Gender Role Conflict studies completed are detailed in Table 1 at the end of this paper. The categories of the studies include overall demographics, diversity, intersectionality, multicultural; studies, health violence discrimination, special topics, and special groups.


What Has the Gender Role Conflict Research Found?

     The critical question is what evidence exists that masculinity ideology and GRC relate to men’s psychological and interpersonal problems? Statistical analyses dispel any denial that men and boys have problems and that all is well with them.

Published studies have shown that GRC does correlate, moderate, or mediate negative psychological outcomes for men and boys. Overall, the research completed indicates that men’s gender role conflict is associated with a host of salient psychological problems that negatively affect both men’s and women’s lives. The results of the studies reviewed indicate rather convincing case that masculinity ideology and GRC have significant relationships to psychological problems for both boys and men. The results across many studies point to significant relationships between masculinity ideology and negative psychological attitudes toward women and gays; violent attitudes toward women; dangerous risk taking with sex and health issues; substance use and abuse; psychological stress and strain; negative attitudes toward help seeking; delinquent behavior; low self-esteem; hostility and aggression; higher blood pressure levels; depression; anxiety; and marital and family problems.

A consistent pattern of significant findings suggest that GRC is related to negative interpersonal problems for men and others. The overall results indicate that GRC significantly relates to dysfunctional patterns in men’s relationships including interpersonal restrictions, attachment problems, and marital dissatisfaction. Furthermore, couples’ dynamics, family interaction patterns, and problems with intimacy and self-disclosure have all been significantly related to GRC.

Moreover, the studies indicate that GRC is related to restrictive and negative attitudes towards women, gays, and in one study, racial minorities. Even more striking and disturbing is that GRC has been significantly correlated with positive attitudes towards sexual harassment, rape myths, hostile sexism, and self-reported sexual and dating violence towards women. The results suggest that GRC significantly relates to dysfunctional and dangerous interpersonal outcomes for men and others. The research supports what feminists have communicated for years about how restrictive gender roles are potential mental health issues for both men and women.


Is gender role conflict specific to the U.S. and an international concept?

One hundred thirty GRC studies have been completed outside the United States at 51 institutions in 32 countries including 10 in Australia, 9 in South Korea, 7 in Canada, 5 in Germany, Great Britain, and Ireland, 2 in Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Hong Kong (China) and single studies in Iran, Iraq, Egypt, China, Hungary, Columbia, Portugal, Taiwan, Poland, Spain, Lithuania, Russia, Tasmania, Costa Rica, Sweden, South Africa, Croatia, Turkey,  Costa Rico, Singapore, Thailand, and Malta. The GRCS has been translated into 25 different languages.

The international studies have shown that GRC is not just an American phenomenon. In nearly every international study, researchers have found some significant relationship between GRC and a psychological variable. Too few studies exist in each country to make any generalities, but research does indicate that GRC is a relevant international construct. Validation of the GRCS in countries outside the United States is needed in future research and numerous studies have found good construct validation for the scale but future study is needed. What is most important is that studies are contextualized to any country or culture (Beaglaoich, et al., 2013; Blazina and Shen-Miller’s 2011). More importantly, new culturally specific measures of GRC are needed to fully capture the nuances of GRC in different countries and with different ethnic and racial groups.


Eight Recommendations To Reduce GRC

  1. Deconstruct (redefine) Masculine and Feminine Gender Roles

For men’s lives to improve, the misinformation and dubious assumptions that reinforce denial about boys’ and men’s problems need to be exposed. But, how do we that? One approach is to deconstruct traditional gender roles both at a macro-societal and micro-interpersonal level.  Moreover, as a society we need to deconstruct gender roles. Deconstructing gender roles has been championed by women feminists for decades in psychology and other disciplines (Enns, 2004; Enns & Williams, 2013) but what does it mean?”

Called “deconstruction of traditional gender roles,” the evaluation process involves the critical analysis of destructive gender role stereotypes and the assessment of unverified sex differences that are the basis for sexism for both men and women. Deconstructing gender roles means telling the truth about sexist assumptions and stereotypes that distort what it means to be fully human, confronting the lies about the rewards of high sex typed attitudes and behaviors, and identifying and correcting the myths that men and women are more different than alike (O’Neil & Renzulli, 2013).

Alongside the deconstruction of sex and gender roles can occur a parallel deconstruction process with reference to racial, class, ethnic, and sexual orientation indices. The deconstruction process can also involve analyzing the status quo’s investment in sexism and the dominant culture’s potential to oppress groups (including women, people of color, sexual minorities, immigrants, and even white men) through personal and institutional forms of sexism, racism, classism, heterosexism, ethnocentrism, or any other kind of discrimination. The deconstruction process and oppression become directly associated with stereotyping, sex discrimination, poverty, sexual assault and harassment, emotional abuse, and violence.

Furthermore, the deconstruction of traditional gender roles can reveal the personal, social, and political realities of personal oppression, discrimination, and social injustice. Reaching this deeper level requires analyzing how racial, class, ethnic, religious, and sexual orientation indices affect psychological functioning and making an effort to acknowledge the effects of personal and institutional forms of sexism, racism, classism, heterosexism, ethnocentrism, or any other kind of discrimination on people’s lives. The deconstruction process raises significant questions about how gender roles relate to sex discrimination, emasculation, homophobia, homonegativity, poverty, sexual assault, harassment, emotional abuse, and societal violence.

In the course of it, the status quo’s investment in sexism is recognized and confronted by coming to understand how the dominant cultures oppress vulnerable groups, including women, people of color, sexual minorities, immigrants, and even white men. Also acknowledged is the economics of oppression, which is understood by explaining that profits are made when “destructive capitalism” uses stereotypes to foster discrimination, injustices, and violence.

On a personal level, the deconstruction of gender roles can challenge ethnic, familial, religious, political or cultural mores related to masculinity and femininity, which can threaten personal identities and violate family values and even invalidate established world views. In this context, the personal becomes political very quickly, and polarization and strong emotions can arise. On a societal level, the oppressiveness of the status quo becomes very visible and obvious when these issues are illuminated. In short, the assessment of patriarchal structures is unsettling and can destroy the illusion that everything is okay in men’s and women’s lives. It compels us to admit that men are troubled, and the entire social system is vulnerable and unstable. Activists who expose these realities threaten dominant power brokers who profit from the inequities. They also threaten people whose lives are based on traditional gender roles.

On a personal level, reevaluating gender roles means looking inward and assessing how masculinity and femininity have both enhanced and restricted interpersonal growth.

Given the complexity and volatility of the issues, many people find the deconstruction of gender roles overwhelming and retreat from the realities and inevitable problems it exposes. Over the decades, even activists have tired with the struggle as opposition to and support for feminism have ebbed and flowed. In this web page, I try not to sidestep these critical issues, but to connect them to GRC and to men’s and women’s gender role journeys (O’Neil & Egan, 1992 a, b; O’Neil, Helms, Gable, David, & Wrightsman, 1986).

While vulnerabilities and insecurities do arise from the deconstruction of gender roles, eventually a single truth emerges: outdated, stereotypical, and restrictive gender roles do not provide the foundation for equality between the sexes; rather, they provide the basis for sexism and other forms of oppression that cause violence and social injustices. As all mental health professionals know, social injustice causes poverty and serious psychological problems for men, women, and children and is therefore a critical issue for psychologists and educators to address. Therefore,

  1. Understand Men as Human Being: Humanizing Men

The greatest obstacle to the change is a failure to see men as full human beings. In psychology, men have been studied not as gendered human beings but as generic persons based on stereotypes (Kimmel, 2011; Smiler 2006). The study of men as gendered human beings is a relatively new phenomenon in psychology.

A major goal of this web page is to explain how men have been affected by restrictive gender roles and how GRC is a serious mental health problem that deserves the full attention of psychologists and other human service professionals.

So common is the problem of discounting men’s full humanity that it has, to a large extent, gone unidentified. In any first encounter, men are usually perceived in terms of stereotypes of masculinity based on ideal body type and other criteria of biological maleness. The second impression of a man is usually based on how well he conforms to masculine stereotypes, norms, and standards. If one moves past the first two impressions, the man can be experienced as a full human person, with all the positive (and negative) qualities and vulnerable possibilities of any human being living in a complex world. This experience of human diversity does happen, but it occurs mainly in selective situations such as funerals, births, religious experiences, and other events where life is the primary focus and stereotypes don’t matter. Of course, many men have humanized themselves but many more live out contradictions, paradoxes, and conflicts with masculine gender roles and experience psychological conflict and pain. I have argued over the years that this is gender role conflict.

Unfortunately, stereotyping and then objectifying men is what we do. The sexist stereotypes by which men have been narrowly defined have slowly but consistently deadened the male spirit. Indeed, the human qualities of both sexes have been diminished by patriarchal stereotypes as our capitalist society has striven to make profits, shape public opinion, and control people’s behavior—a dehumanization at the root of the widespread violence and despair plaguing many of the first world societies (Fox, 1988). This web page reveals its cost by presenting restrictive gender roles as a psychological problem for both men and women.

  1. Expose the Denial About Men’s Problems

The research reported in this web page provides rather convincing evidence that boys and men have psychological problems, and that empirical research documents a relationship between these problems and masculinity ideology and GRC. Strong unconscious defenses in society and individuals interfere with taking the data seriously. Why is it so hard for people to deconstruct masculine gender roles and role of masculinity and femininity in their lives?

Most everyone knows males have problems, but society as a whole has been slow to acknowledge it and do something about it.

For men’s lives to improve, the misinformation and dubious assumptions that reinforce denial about boys’ and men’s problems need to be exposed. The best-known example of denial is the “boys will be boys” assumption. This implies that boys’ problems are normal and insignificant, usually only short term, remediated as the boy matures, and do not affect adulthood. The “boys will be boys” denial is superficial because it does not consider the etiology of boys’ problems from the perspective of restrictive gender roles, and it ignores the sociocultural impacts of sexism on boys’ lives. Worse, it does not capture the deeper and unidentified sources of boys’ conflict. Even among boys who appear normal, underneath the defensive masks of many are turmoil and trouble—and many do carry their unidentified adolescent problems into adulthood.

This denial is also reinforced by the belief that boys’ behavior is mostly influenced by innate and hormonal factors during puberty, and, therefore, not much can be done. This deduction deserves scrutiny because it represents an essentialist perspective on gender roles based on either natural law or religious, ethnic, or family values. Biology does affect boyhood during puberty and should be part of any discussion about boys’ lives, but it should not detract from the consideration of how socialized gender roles shape attitudes and behaviors. Essentialists argue against interfering with biological imperatives driving male behavior, but rarely do they consider how socialized gender roles shape boys’ behavior (Kenrick, 1987).

Another false assumption is that knowledge about gender roles could negatively affect boys’ gender role identity and promote homosexuality. Many times these worries, often harbored by parents and teachers, represent homophobic reactions and interact with limited information about how restrictive gender roles impact sexism in boys’ lives.  Even assuming that the acquisition of any information can influence sexual orientation per say, information about masculine gender roles in particular does not focus on sexual orientation issues or support the feminization of boys. In fact, education about GRC facilitates a boy’s positive views of what it means to be a man in terms of healthy character development, life skills, and full realization of one’s potential (O’Neil & Lujan, 2009a).

In short, to deny men’s problems is to minimize them and invalidate male experience and struggles. An attitude is created that permits men’s problems to be normalized, accepted, and largely ignored. In the web page, I challenge this attitude and break through any denial about what is at stake using theory, research, and arguments for expanding and deepening our understanding of men. We need to break through the denial so we can begin to tell the truth about what has been shown in the research.

  1. Expose the Denial About Men’s Problems In Psychology

Convincing mainstream psychology to study men has been difficult because, until the 1980s, patriarchal values dominated psychological theory and research. Over a hundred years ago, the psychology of men threatened the status quo when Alfred Adler challenged Sigmund Freud’s essentialist theory of hermaphroditism with his masculine protest concept. Freud and Adler’s conflict about the causes of neurosis and the role masculine protest (i.e., sexism) plays in psychological functioning  changed how gender roles were understood permanently. This conflict between these two brilliant analysts threatened the psychoanalytic status quo resulting in Adler’s dismissal from the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. I report on this angry exchange between Adler and Freud in video 2 in the introduction to this web page.

This threat continues to be felt today because the psychology of men is complex and controversial and stimulates personal and political issues for both men and women. The neglect of men’s lives as a topic in the psychological sciences has been costly in terms of human suffering and lost human potential.

  1. Help People Journey With Their Gender Roles : Psychoeducational/Preventive Programming

The gender role journey is a metaphor to help people examine how their emotional, psychological, and interpersonal lives have been affected by their gender role socialization, sexism, and other oppressions (O’Neil, Egan, Owen, & Murry, 1994). The journey involves evaluating thoughts, feelings, and behaviors about gender roles, sexism, and GRC (O’Neil & Egan, 1992a) and includes a retrospective analysis of early family experiences with gender roles, and an assessment of one’s present situation with regard to sexism. Part of the journey process is to gain an understanding of how GRC develops in the family, with peers, and in schools, and how it comes from the larger society. The gender role journey also calls for identifying gender role transitions and reexamining gender role schemas (See chapter 5) over the lifespan (O’Neil & Egan 1992b; O’Neil & Fishman, 1992; O’Neil, Fishman, Kinsella-Shaw, 1987). In other words, the journey is a reevaluation of how masculinity and femininity have affected us and what we should do about it personally, professionally, and politically.

On a personal level, reevaluating gender roles means looking inward and assessing how masculinity and femininity have both enhanced and restricted interpersonal growth. Moving through the phases of the journey stimulates important personal questions. For example, how do sexism and GRC limit human potential and negatively affect my interpersonal relationships? How can gender role schemas.

One critical insight has become clear from working with clients and workshop students over the years: When consciousness is raised and people see that the sexist society sets them up to be oppressed, confused, and conflicted about gender roles, breakthroughs and transformations become a real possibility. With that single insight, both men and women can stop blaming themselves and others for their GRC, sexism, and other oppressions. They can let themselves off the “sexist hook” and consider how to recover through personal growth and societal activism.

  1. Disseminate Research on Boy’s Men’s Gender Role Conflict

Currently, there are very few systematic mechanism for research to be disseminated to the public about boy’s and men’s GRC. Studies do occasionally trickle out into the mass media, but much of the knowledge remains buried in scientific journals read mainly by researchers committed to this area of scholarly inquiry. National research depositories in both governmental and private sectors, need to be developed that store what is known about GRC and growing up male. Moreover, systematic ways need to be developed for men’s research and theory to be translated into understandable language and contexts that can be used in families, schools, and the creation of public policy. The dissemination of information about boys and men’s lives requires a creative infrastructure developed by the best minds in mass communications as well as federal and state funding over many years.

  1. Expand and Improve Services and Programs For Men and Boys

The lack of service delivery for men and boys perpetuates serious problems in schools and on our campuses. The jury is still out whether public school and higher education professionals will ever address boy’s and men’s problems. Telling the truth about boys and men  requires a paradigm shift and higher consciousness about the effects of sexism on men. The real challenge is to fully accept that boys and men are a special group that need help and support.  Whether education can change its service delivery to help vulnerable boys and men who are negatively affected by socialized sexism is unclear. How many more school shootings, acts of campus violence, rapes, male suspensions and dropouts, and gay boy’s suicides will it take to understand that masculinity ideologies and GRC are directly relevant to these serious problems? Is our inaction in this vital area part of a backlash against men and boys? When will we fully understand that sexism has negative consequences for everyone? Can we acknowledge this without creating a zero sum game that pits men and women against each other?


  1. Create Healthy and Positive Aspects of Masculinity

A new direction would be to create positive paradigms of healthy masculinity. Future research and conceptualization are now needed on affirmative and positive aspects of masculinity (Kiselica, 2011; Kiselica & Englar-Carlson, 2010; O’Neil & Lujan, 2009a). Patterns of positive masculinity can help men and boys learn alternatives to sexist attitudes and behaviors that cause GRC.

What needs to be created in the future are diagnostic schemas that assess men’s positive and healthy masculine attitudes and behaviors. A real breakthrough can occur if therapists and educators begin to more proactively assess the positive qualities men have or need to develop. This healthy masculinity schema would help men mobilize their potential with confidence and hope. The promotion of positive, healthy masculinity is needed to change sexism against both sexes and thereby decrease the suffering that men, women, and children experience from restrictive gender roles.


Evolving Truths

A number of important truths emerged when writing the book. One is that human qualities are, without question, more healthy and functional than those assigned to men and women by stereotypes of masculinity and femininity that emanate from patriarchal values. Restrictive stereotypes have outlived their utility; they serve no function, nor do they offer any survival value they might have had (assuming they ever had any) over the centuries. Restricted gender roles impede human development, dehumanize both men and women, and, under many circumstances, victimize men, women, and children. Unfortunately, political, economic, and religious factions that want to control human behavior and set society’s priorities according to repressive ideologies endorse restricted gender roles. Before feminism, no collective consciousness existed about the perils of sexist stereotypes that cause GRC . There has been some progress over the years, but even now public awareness of the peril of sexism appears to ebb and flow based economic realities in our society. Only a persistent and critical deconstruction of these damaging stereotypes in patriarchal societies can reverse the negative effects of sexism, GRC, and restrictive gender roles in people’s liv


Final Thoughts on the Call to Action

The psychology of men has a long but inconsistent history, beginning with Freud and his followers. Adler’s feminist concepts on gender and the psychology of men threatened the status quo and were disputed and disregarded until the 1980s (Connell, 2005). The status quo is still threatened by addressing masculinity issues because they are intensely personal and political and have significant implications for social change. Among the goals of the call to action in this book is to decrease the threat, explain what is at stake for our mental health, and expose how patriarchal values destroy possibilities for becoming more human, whether one is male, female, or transgendered.

In chapters 10 and 11 of my book (O’Neil, 2015), I discussed portals (openings or ways to break through) to men’s inner lives as a critical dimension of engaging men in therapy. How to find the portal with men in therapy is usually ambiguous and difficult to do (Rabinowitz  & Cochran, (2002). Likewise, on a national level, we need to look for “societal portals,” opportunities to raise consciousness significantly about boys’ and men’s lives. The 9/11 attacks, the Boston Marathon bombings, the Columbine and Sandy Hook shootings, and other such terrible events prompted examinations of the realities of men’s experiences, but the serious questions we ask in the wake of these tragedies fade as the denial, difficulty, and complexity of the issues loom large in our violence-ridden psyches.

My call to action is designed to attract more psychologists and caring professionals to the cause of finding the portals of change needed to help both men and women who are negatively affected by the sexism and other oppressions that continue to pervade our outdated, unnecessary, and inhuman patriarchal society. As Robert Kennedy said in the speech quoted at the beginning of this chapter, every ripple of activism can make a difference. The collective ripples of activism created by each of us can result in waves of change, exposing patriarchal abuse and oppression and restoring human values that enrich humanity and bring men and women closer, into alliances that strive for freedom and justice for all. Each of you is invited to contribute to this idealistic but possible vision and cause.