It’s time to Smash These Male Stereotypes

Debunking common stereotypes that are hurting boys

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

As story upon story of boys and men being arrested for making violent threats and having access to assault weapons continue to dominate the news, I am struck by a silent terror that I try to hide around my sons. It is no longer a secret that our boys are suffering. Their angry and horrific actions are our wake-up call and it is up to us to stay woke.

I’m not looking to address gun control, though that is an extremely important part of the puzzle. I want to address the psychological straitjackets we subject our kids to with gender stereotypes and their traumatic effect they have on our children’s ability to cope, overcome and thrive.

Stereotypes are insidious because they are everywhere, and research has shown that the lessons our children learn about gender have lifelong, sometimes tragic consequences. A new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health examined the negative impact of gender norms on both boys and girls. They found that not only are these types of stereotypes universal, but they transcend income levels and become firmly entrenched before 10 years old, having lasting, sometimes negative results.

The most recent shootings, show the horrendous consequences that have been shown to occur when boys conform to these harmful gender stereotypes.

The Danger of Male Stereotypes

Conforming to male stereotypes have been shown to correlate to:

· Engaging in physical violence to a much greater extent than girls

· Dying more frequently from unintentional injuries or accidents

· Substance abuse and/or suicide

· Sorter life expectancy than women

As we have seen stereotypes begin early, with our expectations of what boys do laying a foundation that builds to how men should behave.

Some of the most common stereotypes my sons encounter include:

· Boys don’t cry

· Boys should be gentlemen

· Boys aren’t emotional

· Boys will be boys

· Boys aren’t as mature as girls

· Boys are strong and aggressive

Male stereotypes are more variations of these themes. Morphing into ideas about life, career and relationships that can include:

  • Men are aggressive
  • Men don’t have as many feelings as women

· Nice guys will finish last

  • Men are not nurses, they are doctors
  • Men want to do “dirty jobs” such as construction and mechanics: conversely men are not secretaries, teachers, or cosmetologists
  • Men do not do housework
  • Men are not responsible for taking care of children
  • Men play video games
  • Men play sports
  • Men enjoy outdoor activities such as camping, fishing, and hiking
  • Men are in charge; they are always the boss
  • As husbands, men should tell their wives what to do
  • Men are lazy and/or messy
  • Men do not cook, sew, or do crafts

This is just the tip of the ice berg, but you get the idea. While we tend to view stereotypes on an individual level, they have larger consequences as recent events have shown. We want to empower our kids to be fully-formed individuals, but we face an uphill battle. The messages children receive at home can be contradictory to those they receive from their teachers at school and vice versa. Media itself plays a large role in perpetuating these inequitable norms.

We must come together as a community to eradicate this type of thinking. Thinking outside the box when it comes to gender stereotypes will make our children healthier adults and might just save a life.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


Actress Olivia Wilde Wants to Raise Her Kids Without Gender Stereotypes

by Jane Burnett

Good Girls Are Bad At Math: How Gender Stereotyping Affects Learning

by Kidskintha- a digital media site for millennial parents

Confronting Gender Stereotypes in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa

by Edemawan Ossai

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.