Do your sleeping habits affect the way that people see you and your masculinity? Yes, according to a new study.
It seems like getting less sleep has somehow become a quality of masculinity. But should it be? This ties into the idea of productivity over mental and physical health. But, there’s also a layer of machismo that connects with it. For instance, US President Donald Trump once boasted about getting less sleep than “Sleepy Joe” Biden. He boasted about getting 4 fewer hours of sleep per night than his political opponent Joe Biden.
But what do scientists have to say about this? When Nathan B. Warren and Troy H. Campbell met, they knew they’d be good working partners. Warren is a Ph.D. candidate of Marketing at the Lundquist College of Business at the University of Oregon. Meanwhile, Troy H. Campbell is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the same school. While Warren is studying for his Ph.D., he needed to get research experience. Thus, the two decided to conduct a study together.
This specific study was titled “The Sleep-Deprived Masculinity Stereotype.” The two men decided to look into the topics of sleeping habits, gender norms, societal expectations, and toxic masculinity. And why are we talking about it here? Because not only did the study trend online last week, but it was published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research.
The Method & Results
In order to conduct the study, the researchers went through a series of studies. Twelve separate studies, to be exact. Each study was different in not only how it was done but also in the pools of participants involved. To find the people that they studied and surveyed, the researchers used different programs and platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk or the Prolific research platform.
In the end, the surveys all came with one conclusive answer: people see sleeping less as a masculine trait. One survey focusing on 144 people found that most men agree with this idea. Then another survey, this time involving 385 people, found that participants described “manly” men as getting less sleep than “unmanly men.” This mirrors the words of President Trump in his argument against Former Vice President Joe Biden.
What do Warren and Campbell think of all this? In these results, they saw an unhealthy perspective on masculinity. This then pushes the idea that unhealthy life choices are more masculine than taking care of yourself. But more on that in another section of this article.
“The social nature of the sleep-deprived masculinity stereotype positively reinforces males who sleep less, even though sleeping less contributes to significant mental and physical health problems,” Warren and Campbell wrote in their study’s reflection. This may be particularly detrimental because men frequently have significantly more negative attitudes towards seeking psychological help. “Unfortunately, the problems created by the sleep-deprived masculinity stereotype may reach beyond individuals and into society, as men who sleep less are found to be more aggressive and violent.”
“Men often choose to ‘tough it out' by avoiding feminine associations with health care,” the authors added. “Despite the severe consequences for men's health, demonstrating stoic toughness allows men to display stereotypically masculine and agentic traits of strength, independence, autonomy, and resilience.”
Warren and Campbell then added, “As society continues to challenge traditional definitions of masculinity, attitudes toward sleep may become more positive, and all people might enjoy more nights full of healthy sleep.”
Other Activities That Are Not Masculine/Straight
But this isn’t the first time we’ve come across ridiculous assertions of what is right or wrong for men to do. Here’s a quick list of other “traits” that are similarly stupid.
Another research study, this time from 2019, found that men think recycling and being mindful of eco-friendly endeavors is not masculine. The men said they’d be afraid of having their sexualities questioned if they were to recycle or practice green-friendly activities. It looks like it’s not only the ozone layer that’s fragile!
2. Eating Sweets
You know that old stereotype that “real men” don’t eat sweets? Well, that popped up as a topic on Twitter back in April of this year. A series of tweets talked about the topic and one in particular sparked controversy by saying, “mean eat MEALS.” This relates to another survey that found similar mentalities among people.
a guy ordering dessert on a date is a red flag for me. that’s a female thing to do fr.
— lyssa ms. aquafinaaa (@ms_fishscale) April 12, 2020
if a guy is on a date with a woman, the woman should be the only one asking for appetizers and dessert. men eat MEALS. like seriously. you can just taste some of whatever i ordered.
— lyssa ms. aquafinaaa (@ms_fishscale) April 13, 2020
3. Eating Brunch
But a guy’s gotta eat, right? Apparently not brunch though. This was yet another fight that happened over Twitter in the past few months. With Twitter users posting thoughts like, “I don’t trust men who eat breakfast, that’s a female trait,” you can see there’s a lot of unlearning needed to be done.
4. Cleaning Your Butt
Oh, and remember that hygiene thing we talked about earlier? Well, here it is! Earlier this summer, writer David Futrell shared a story of a woman who shared that her boyfriend does not wipe his butt because “a real man doesn’t go in between his cheeks or spread them open for anything.”
From sleeping to wiping your butt, there seems to be many ways in which someone can veer off the path of masculinity. What are other examples of toxic masculinity that you’d like to see go away? Let us know your thoughts down below.