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masculinity

New study: Braiding hair makes men want to punch things

Zach, is that a ... purse?

When a guy feels his masculinity is being undermined, he may want to punch something. That, in any case, is the implication of a new study by two psychology researchers at the University of South Florida. As the press release for the study explains:

In several studies, [the researchers] used [the] task [of braiding hair] to force men to behave in a “feminine” manner, and recorded what happened. In one study, some men braided hair; others did the more masculine—or gender-neutral—task of braiding rope. Given the options afterwards of punching a bag or doing a puzzle, the hair-braiders overwhelmingly chose the former. When one group of men braided hair and others did not, and all punched the bag, the hair-braiders punched harder. When they all braided hair and only some got to punch, the non-punchers evinced more anxiety on a subsequent test.

Aggression, write the authors, is a “manhood-restoring tactic.”

As is the case with most experimental psychology studies, it’s not clear to what degree this result applies to the real world, rather than to a specific set of people asked to perform a specific task in a lab setting. (There are a lot of bullshit experimental studies out there.) But the logic behind this study makes perfect sense, and I’m inclined to give it some credibility. I imagine the logic applies equally well to a range of supposedly “emasculating” tasks, like holding a woman’s purse, buying tampons, or, I dunno, watching “The View.”

Of course, with the first two examples, there is an alternative solution to the problem: to not actually give a shit about idiotic masculine stereotypes. What on earth is the big deal about buying tampons, or braiding hair? I find holding a purse annoying, but I’d be equally annoyed to hold a male friend’s wallet. (I just don’t like shopping with other people.)

In the case of The View, I can’t see a solution. Pretty much any exposure to that show makes me want to punch the television. Of course, I have female friends who feel the same way. As Zach Galifianakis once put it:

I have to stop crying when I watch “The View.” It’s not because of the topics at hand, I just feel sorry for that couch.

I think we all do.

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Linds
Linds
9 years ago

Hey, my father loves The View WAY more than my mother does.

Dad has always been my role model for “guys what do not give a fuck about people calling their masculinity into question” though. Watching him was a good way to really get it through my head that what anyone else thinks of your gender performance has nothing to do with your actual gender.

Pecunium
9 years ago

That explains it. I braid my hair and then I practice shooting things.

Wait… if I don’t braid my hair first it gets between my shoulder and the rifle, then it get pulled (hard) and I cry.

Maybe I don’t understand it after all.

Plymouth
Plymouth
9 years ago

I have a similar reaction – after I braid my fiance’s hair I have an intense desire to strip him naked and throw him down on the bed… oh is that not what they’re talking about? ‘Cause men in braids are HOTTT 🙂

beshemoth
beshemoth
9 years ago

I take it from the set-up of this study that solving puzzles (presumably = using logic and brainpower) is not considered manly now? :S

chocominties
chocominties
9 years ago

I used to like watching The View, but I think that was when Rosie was on. She didn’t give a fuck, which was fun when she would give Ms. Survivor a good smackdown.

But The Talk? Dreadful. Just a bunch of women backpatting themselves for breeding. It was on in the student center a couple of times I was in there and made me want to hurl. It was followed by Rachel Ray, which was even more painful.

As for holding purses, really, is it so awful? I used to ask my brother to do it while I put my coat on and he would hold it at arm’s length between thumb and forefinger. Like his balls would drop off if he held it in a SAFE way. But lemme tell you, if someone had yoinked it due to his idiocy, he’d have to worry about more than just balls …

SWGM
SWGM
9 years ago

Men need to stop fearing tampons and other menstruation paraphernalia. Look at it this way: she’s having her period, which means she’s not pregnant! Yay! Isn’t in nicer to buy a $6 box of tampons than a $600 abortion or 18 years worth of child support? Hooray for tampons!

Avicenna
9 years ago

I think people are exaggerating, I am sure men do these things without any real issues. We aren’t 7… We can buy these things without feeling embarrassed.

Comrade Svilova
Comrade Svilova
9 years ago

My ex is one of the few men I know who will cheerfully go to the store to pick up pads/tampons if asked. He also has long hair, which he sometimes braids, and he braided my hair (beautifully!) for our wedding. And manly? He’s ripped and extremely smart, a whiz at computers, math, logic, gadgets, and more. He always has several women (and men!) crushing on him.

So which is he? Alpha or omega? Ahhh! The Greek system fails to convey his particular brand of awesomeness. (Btw, we are exes because we have different goals in life; he respects my desire to pursue more education and I respect his desire to build a forge and work on his blacksmithing, but those two goals aren’t compatible.) And yes. He is a blacksmith. That’s pretty damn manly as well.

Amnesia
Amnesia
9 years ago

Am I the only one who suspects this study was only done on white guys? Cause I doubt black guys who wear their hair in cornrows or regularly see other black guys in cornrows have such psychological issues with braids.

Also, braiding hair is obviously another cause of Shriveled Dick Syndrome.

red_locker
red_locker
9 years ago

Amnesia pretty much expressed my thoughts.

Though, as a black guy, I’m not into wearing cornrows.

Plymouth
Plymouth
9 years ago

I’ve never sent one of my boyfriends to the store for menstrual products. Oh dear, I was missing a great opportunity to emasculate test them!

I don’t expect to be doing so anytime soon though – I only use reuseables these days. (cup and washable cloth pads).

gogo
gogo
9 years ago

Dave,

Related or not:
I miss the wall paper from the previous location of your blog. The black on gray fleur de lys (sp? Français, etc!) looking stuff was a groovy pattern.

I would never punch a wall papered with that.

Imagine being a little girl who gets her day organized by a daddy who punches the wall after giving her Laura Ingalls braids before school every morning!

Bummer.

Plymouth
Plymouth
9 years ago

Oh, rats, I failed to notice that the tag for strikethrough is [strike] here, not [s]. That was supposed to read:

Oh dear, I was missing a great opportunity to emasculate test them!

cynickal
cynickal
9 years ago

“Gender is social,” says, Bosson. “Men know this. They are powerfully concerned about how they appear in other people’s eyes.” And the more concerned they are, the more they will suffer psychologically when their manhood feels violated.

So… what they’re saying is that douchebags, when unobserved, may actually treat women like real human beings?
They’re more likely to be assholes when socially pressure to be assholes?
Evo-psych is BS?

Pecunium
9 years ago

How is social pressure = EvPsych?

PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth
PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth
9 years ago

Speaking of social pressure-one of the local papers is reprinting things from the year AZ became a state…including this gem about jurors not wearing formal gear during a trial. *swoons from the horrified shock*

Lydia
Lydia
9 years ago

@ Pecunium: I think cynickal didn’t mean that social pressure is evo-psych, but the “science” of evolutionary psychology is trying to prove that gender differences are innate and evolved over time based on the different roles of men and women in human history.

That, indeed, is BS. Major BS.

cynickal
cynickal
9 years ago

@Pecunium , I appologize if my short hand flippancy of Evo-Psych is inaccurate. Lydia correctly points out what I intended to convey in just a few words.

I think I jumped far beyond the scope of the study summary and created a strawman argument before any of the MGTOW or MRA’s could jump in and claim that “It’s science!!!”

Lydia
Lydia
9 years ago

“It’s science!!!”

Things involving Satoshi Kanazawa CANNOT, by definition, be science.

Lydia
Lydia
9 years ago

DUH! See, I knew I’d mess it up. KanEzawa, of course. Kanazawa is a city.

Pecunium
9 years ago

ah… I misread you then; it seemed an endorsement of evpsych. I apologise.

Lydia
Lydia
9 years ago

Here is an EvoPsych bingo (with a highly readable link to a piece by said Kanezawa below it), though the trolls here don’t seem to be that fond of EvoPsych, if you don’t count that ß-system.

http://boingboing.net/2010/04/07/evolutionary-psychol-1.html

PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth
PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth
9 years ago

Berries in a forest is why women like pink sometimes? Really?

Lydia
Lydia
9 years ago

@ Elizabeth: Some time ago, someone mentioned on this blog that in the past, pink was actually a colour for boys, the “little red”. So, yeah.

BTW: Anyone speak German here and keen on some lulz?

Snowy
Snowy
9 years ago

equal goes it loose

katz
9 years ago

Anit and THASF both seemed to be evo-psych trolls.

The crowning moment of lulz for me with evo psych was “teenage girls may cut themselves to demonstrate their resistance to infection” (from Geoffrey Miller’s book “Spent”.)

lexiedi
9 years ago

My brother holds my purse all the time. And carries it around the store when I have my arms full. He’s a 6 foot 4 inch tall man who weighs 340 pounds with hair down past his shoulders and a full beard. If you looked at him and knew nothing about him, you’d say he was pretty friggin’ “manly.” And, I guess… he is? Luckily he doesn’t feel he has to prove himself to anyone. =P

O yeah.. and my 6 foot 1 inch tall boyfriend who shaves his head bald, plays drums, guitar, and bass? Carries my pads for me when we go to Disneyland.

I love the men in my life. They know exactly who they are and won’t let society pressure them.

Lydia
Lydia
9 years ago

Ok, noone. So I’m just throwing this in here in case anyone wants to take a look at it.

Evolutionary science at its best: allesevolution.wordpress.com

Captain Bathrobe
Captain Bathrobe
9 years ago

Oddly enough, punching makes me want to braid things.

PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth
PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth
9 years ago

hey, I just found Cracked’s 8 TV ads that hate women and that tire ad was number 8

Which goes to show, I am bored out of my gourd.

Amused
Amused
9 years ago

Gender essentialists embarrass themselves again. So, anger at braiding hair is hard-wired into the male brain? Okay.

I think that today, few men with pretensions at hypermasculinity would dispute that ancient Spartans represent the epitome of uber-manly manliest manly men. (In fact, I suspect 300 is at the top of your regular MGTOW’s movie list, except for those parts inserted by the Feminist Bureau of Feminazi Pinko Commie Propaganda, that are favorable to the Spartan queen.) And yet, Spartan men braided their hair. In fact, a Spartan earned the right to grow his hair long and braid it only at the age of thirty, and given the Spartan warrior lifestyle, it was no mean feat to actually live that long; so braids on a man were a symbol of his battlefield-tested manly manliness. Spartan women, by contrast, not only failed to girlfy themselves with braids for their wedding day, but … well, let’s just say if you were marrying a Spartan woman, you’d be in for a surprise.

Reminds me of that whole evo psych fiasco about color preferences being supposedly hard-wired.

Toysoldier
9 years ago

But the logic behind this study makes perfect sense.

No, it does not. Like many feminist researchers, Bosson and Vadello started with a premise and sought to prove that premise right rather than engaging in objective analysis. Missing is any response from the men, which would give a far better insight into their behavior than just assuming why they reacted as they did. There is also the glaring issue of them asking the men to follow up by doing a violent activity. The notion that men punching a punching bag proves “aggression is a ‘manhood-restoring tactic'” only works if one ignores that the act is an accepted masculine activity. This then begs the question of why the researchers chose a violent activity instead of something more benign and more similar to the previous activity, such as shaving or cutting hair.  If the men behaved aggressively during that activity, then one could logically argue that aggression is a manhood-restoring activity. Instead, it would appear that at best the men more eagerly engaged in the boxing activity so as to reassert their masculinity, and the activity just happened to be an aggressive activity. That does not prove “aggression is a ‘manhood-restoring tactic'”. It only shows that men will reassert their masculinity if they feel it has been challenged.

Speaking from personal experience, I know a lot of boys and men who have carried purses, bought tampons, and braided hair. I have not seen any of them punch anyone or anything after doing that.

Rabbit
Rabbit
9 years ago

[quote “swgm”]$6 box of tampons[/quote]

Please tell me where you buy your tampons. I am paying like $12 a box up here.

Rabbit
Rabbit
9 years ago

OK, quote fail, but whatever. Y’all know what I meant to do there.

cynickal
cynickal
9 years ago

@toysoldier

That does not prove “aggression is a ‘manhood-restoring tactic’”. It only shows that men will reassert their masculinity if they feel it has been challenged.

You are correct. The primary research concludes exactly that. The secondary analysis however gets warped into “Aggression, write the authors, is a “manhood-restoring tactic.””

Compare that with what I quoted earlier:

“Gender is social,” says, Bosson. “Men know this. They are powerfully concerned about how they appear in other people’s eyes.” And the more concerned they are, the more they will suffer psychologically when their manhood feels violated.

And you’ll see the difference between what you read, the primary article, and what many people analyze it to mean.

Xtra
9 years ago

Am I the only one who suspects this study was only done on white guys? Cause I doubt black guys who wear their hair in cornrows or regularly see other black guys in cornrows have such psychological issues with braids.

I thought braiding hair make black guys want to drink coke. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXhEtgO59EQ

PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth
PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth
9 years ago

They did have the option of a non-violent activity offered to them. They chose to do the punching bag rather then the puzzle.

Which could have been of two men punching one another for all we know.

Pecunium
9 years ago

I’m still confused about the entire premise of the study.

If I were asked to braid something, my desires to do something when I was done would depend on how it went.

I am much better at braiding rope than hair (the only hair I have any facility at braiding is my own, and even that is pretty frustrating at times). That means I might be frustrated at my failure to achieve the task.

That makes a very different explanation for me relieving the tension on a heavy bag than doing a puzzle; which might also strike as likely to cause frustration, I am more likely to be wound up, and so unlikely to concentrate, hence more likely to want to punch the bag.

I can’t say what the specifics of the study are, but it doesn’t look well designed to me. I’m going to fly it past some psychologists I know, and see what they think of it.

Simone Lovelace
9 years ago

Pecunium, this study was posted at Jezebel, and more than half the comments were saying essentially what you said above.

I think it’s a good theory.

Pecunium
9 years ago

Simone: Wait… feminists didn’t say all men are (at heart) violent apes with no self-control at all?

Say it isn’t so.

NWOslave
NWOslave
9 years ago

A man’s masculinity can never be threatened since masculine is inherent in man. This is just feminist jargon trying to explain a quality women don’t and can’t possess. Men are exactly what they’re supposed to be…Men.

PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth
PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth
9 years ago

NWOslave-are you feeling okay, that actually made sense.

Goes back to this article.

Lydia
Lydia
9 years ago

@ Dave: Please, don’t YOU start too with the MRA-typical failure of understanding sarcasm. Amused pointed out exactly what you said above, and she also mentioned that “gender essentialists” are wrong again because it is obviously not hardwired. That’s why she mentioned the Spartans, because they don’t see braiding hair as something unmanly either, which means she understood that…gender differences…aren’t hardwired…you know?

Oh, nevermind. Whatever.

@Elizabeth: That article is fairly funny, but what are you gonna do with the comments? See MRA-typical failure to get sarcasm mentioned above.

Pecunium
9 years ago

Dave: I don’t know if the study is any good. I don’t know enough about the experimental methodology, the working definitions, how the groups were chosen, what control groups were used (and how defined), etc.

I’ve taken part in a few such studies. I’ve helped to build a couple, and I see a huge number of ways this one could go wrong.

I’m waiting for feedback on it from a psych-prof I know, we’ll see what comes back.

But, absent a look at the report itself (or at least an abstract), I don’t trust it, because there are too many ways for this to have been screwed up.

Not the least is the way the reporter handled the information, because I don’t know what was given, nor how well it was understood.

MertvayaRuka
MertvayaRuka
9 years ago

If this study had concluded that men who feel pressured by society to act “masculine” all the time get agitated when they’re made to do something coded as “feminine”, it would make more sense.

Kinda like how the standard insults of the MRA crowd like “mangina” only really work on people who actually worry that they might be viewed as not being masculine.

Pecunium
9 years ago

MertvayaRuka* And it’s possible that’s what the study was working on, it might even be what it says, but that article doesn’t give me enough to go on.

*do you speak Russian?

Plymouth
Plymouth
9 years ago

I think Pecunium has a really good point about frustration being an alternative (if not necessarily better) rationale for wanting to perform a physical activity. I definitely concur that rope is MUCH easier to brain than hair. So now I’m wondering what other similar activities we can think of that could be coded as feminine vs masculine;

1) painting fingernails vs painting model cars
2) baking muffins vs barbequeing
3) planting flowers vs planting trees
4) Driving a minivan vs driving a sportscar

I dunno, this is actually kinda hard! Anyone else wanna play?