UK Men’s experience of the Gender-Role Journey and Implications for Clinicians and Mental Health Services
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Gender-role journey (GRJ) theory (O’Neil, 2015; O’Neil & Egan, 1992) provides a framework for exploring men’s transition from accepting traditional gender roles toward pro-feminist activism and gender-role transcendence on a bipolar continuum. Previous research findings suggest that men may experience distress and ambivalence when questioning traditional gender roles. A better understanding of this distress could help therapists effectively explore gender-role attitudes with men. In this study, latent profile analysis was used to identify distinct categories of men in the U.K. (N = 569) from a convenience, general population sample based on GRJ-phase attitudes. Six categories were identified and labeled based on GRJ theory: not questioning/accepting of traditional gender roles (not-questioning), do not acknowledge the importance of gender (DAIG), questioning with ambivalence (QWA), moderately feminist with ambivalence (MFWA), moderately feminist, and pro-feminist activists. Mental health measure scores showed that, compared to not-questioning categorization, MFWA categorization predicted increased anxiety and depression, and QWA categorization predicted increased depression. MFWAs were more likely to be younger, single, Asian, and unemployed. Low resilience was also associated with MFWA categorization. Knowledge of personal characteristics associated with ambivalence and psychological distress could help practitioners explore masculinity more effectively with men. Future research should explore the factors influencing which gender-role journey measure-category men are in.
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