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.