A new, wide-ranging survey into views about what masculinity means in the UK ahead of International Men’s Day on 19 November has uncovered that younger men, Londoners and men earning a high-income have more old-fashioned ideas than anyone else about what it means to be a man.
The study found that supposedly cosmopolitan and progressive thinking Londoners had more traditional and stereotyped views about men than elsewhere in the country.
The survey discovered that those who held the more stereotypical views of masculinity were also those most likely to say they feel depressed or sad than the other groups surveyed, showing the negative impact that these traditional beliefs have on their mental health. Some 52% of those holding the most old-fashioned ideas of what it means to be a man said they were often sad or depressed.
The poll, commissioned by ad agency New Macho, which talked to 2,000 representative men and women of all ages across Britain, also found that women don’t believe in macho stereotypes as much as men do, indicating the pressure men feel to live up to traditional concepts of masculinity is mostly coming from themselves.
The study found that London men think the more money they have, the happier they are, with 45% agreeing, as opposed to just 22% of Welsh men at the other end of the scale.
More than a quarter (27%) of London men believe the old-fashioned and harmful notion that real men don’t cry, whereas Scottish men are more enlightened and in touch with their feelings, with just 5% agreeing.
When it comes to domestic chores, by and large, roughly one in six of men questioned (16%) believe that women should do a larger share of the cooking and cleaning in a relationship. However, in London, 22% agreed – compared to just 7% of men in Scotland.
And the richer a man is, the more he feels that being a good lover comes from having sex with many partners – 36% of men earning over £75k felt this versus just 12% of men earning up to £40k. What’s more, on average across all those surveyed, just 12.75% of those surveyed agreed that their partner’s attractiveness reflects their social status. But of the men earning £75K -£99K, this rises to 24% and for men earning £100,000 and more, almost a half agree (46%).
A huge 41% for men earning between £75,000-£99.9K felt that men should be the main financial providers for a family, with a massive 50% of men earning more than £100,000 agreeing. Men earning over £75k, were also more likely to think that their popularity on social media is a reflection of who they are – some 33% versus 12% of those earning between £25k-£40k.
Depressingly, 22% – more than a fifth – of all those surveyed thought that men should be the main financial providers for a family, with millennials more likely to agree with the statement, with 28% of them agreeing.
Across the whole population, Prince Harry was crowned the best British example of a modern man, landing 28% of votes, with David Beckham just behind with 25%.
The survey was carried out to understand the current perceptions of masculinity in the UK and where British men are at right now, and asked the public their views of what makes a “successful man” across key themes including relationships, sex, parenting, possessions, health and wellness, sport, education, fashion, money, work and social media.
However, the survey found overwhelming that men want change with 72% of them agreeing that men should talk more about their feelings.
The study was conducted by market research firm Harris Interactive on behalf of London-based advertising agency Perfect Storm’s men’s speciality arm New Macho, which aims to change the way men are portrayed in the media and advertising in a bid to tackle out-of-date and harmful stereotypes about what it means to be a man.