12 million Brits don’t believe toxic masculinity exists

Lily Wakefield
·2-min read

New research has shown that 12 million people in Britain do not believe that toxic masculinity exists, despite the overwhelming evidence to suggest otherwise.

Toxic masculinity has been linked to mental health problems, physical health problems, a lack of sleep, violence and has even led to men putting themselves and others at risk during the coronavirus pandemic.

The limitations imposed by toxic masculinity are seen in countless online posts as men question whether they’re allowed to appreciate sunsets, fruity cocktails, comfortable chairs, recycling, or even wash their own genitals.

But research by online learning platform FutureLearn and the University of Glasgow found that 12 million Brits refuse to believe that toxic masculinity is a problem in today’s society, and that almost a quarter (23 per cent) of under 35s don’t believe that toxic masculinity has ever existed.

The survey used YouGov data from this year, with a sample size of 2,080 that was weighted to be representative of the UK’s adult population.

The study also showed that almost one in five men “don’t believe gender inequality is a reality that exists in society”.

While 37 per cent of men and 52 per cent of women surveyed did admit that toxic masculinity exists, 8.9 million Brits admitted a lack knowledge about toxic masculinity, and 7.8 million lacked knowledge on LGBT+ rights.

When those who believed in its existence were asked about the causes of toxic masculinity, the two most common answers were “a stereotypical image of what it means to be masculine” and “an environment that allows for misogyny”.

Dr Tanya Cheadle, a lecturer in gender history at the University of Glasgow, said: “It’s fascinating that 38 per cent of those surveyed highlighted masculine stereotypes to be a cause of ‘toxic masculinity’.

“History shows us that comparable ideas around masculinity and ‘manliness’ have existed throughout the past and have often had a close relationship with perpetuating inequalities – of gender, but also of sex, race and class.”

Gender and sexual inequality is a central issue in today’s global culture wars – from the Weinstein scandal and #MeToo, to reproductive justice and trans rights,” she added.

To remedy the severe lack of knowledge, FutureLearn and the University of Glasgow have launched a free online course titled “A Global History of Sex and Gender” to educate people on gender history, equality and stereotypes.

Cheadle said: “This course provides the vital historical perspective necessary to enact meaningful social change.

“Reaching a wide audience through this accessible online platform allows us a real opportunity to inform and progress the conversation, sharing with a broad, international audience the very latest research on the rich and sometimes surprising history of past attitudes and activism on sex and gender.”