How Does Male Conformity Affect Men’s Views of Women?

Aggression is a significant problem in society. It occurs in child-parent relationships, intimate partner relationships, and among coworkers, peers, and even strangers. Individuals are often the victims of aggression because they are different from others. Racial, ethnic, and sexual orientation differences are at the root of many types of aggression and violence in today’s world. According to research, men are more likely to instigate aggressive acts than women. They are also more likely to be the victims of violence. But what motivates men to become aggressive? Could it be that men subscribe to masculine ideals of control, strength, and power? Or perhaps they view others as submissive, and in particular view women as weaker opponents? In an effort to understand how male ideology and gender influence the aggressive behaviors of men, Danielle S. Berke of the Department of Psychology at the University of Georgia recently led a study involving men who were low and high in masculine conformity.

The participants were presented with videos and pictures of male opponents and female opponents. The females were comprised of women who conformed to traditional female gender roles and women who were nonconforming. Berke found that the men who were high in male conformity demonstrated higher levels of physical aggression to all of their opponents. Those participants who were low in male conformity were less aggressive to their male opponents than the high-conforming male participants. However, the low-conforming men exhibited nearly equal amounts of aggression to both conforming and nonconforming opponents, with just slightly more aggression directed toward the conforming female opponents.

These results suggest that men may view women through different lenses depending on their own level of male conformity. For the high-conforming men, they may view the women as either masculine or feminine, and not just as women. This classification could influence how they perceive the women’s vulnerability and how they view them as adversaries. The low-conforming men may see all women through a lens of female sexuality, regardless of whether they conform to feminine ideals. Berke believes that these findings prove that men are not aggressive merely because they are men. In sum, they are not victims of their own gender. “Thus, in the service of gender equality, the study of human behavior must move beyond the prescriptive constructs of masculinity and femininity to reveal the prosocial potential of all people,” Berke said.

Berke, Danielle S., Colleen A. Sloan, Dominic Parrott, and Amos Zeichner. Effects of female gender role and gender norm conformity on aggression in men: Does positive masculinity reduce the risk? Psychology of Men & Masculinity 13.4 (2012): 367-78. Print.

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  • gordon


    December 6th, 2012 at 3:12 PM

    a lot depends on the perception when it comes to gender-based violence.also the very definition of what things mean to the individual plays role.a man can have high conformity and yet not violent because is ideals of masculinity may not be aggression or control.

    basically most of the gender boxes that people are attributed to live in are often a farce and individual preference and views mater much more.there is only so much your gender an affect your thinking.a lot more depends on other things!

  • Lynne


    December 6th, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    Any man I have ever dated or been around- the more macho and amsculine he is, the more likely he is to be aggressive and rigid in his ideals about the typical male and female roles. Tht’s why I have decided to pul a Kathy Griffin and be friends with gay males only!!

  • greg porter

    greg porter

    December 7th, 2012 at 4:02 AM

    Honestly I think that we give guys a bad rap most of the time. I think that any man knows the difference between right and wrong regardless of how they think that a woman should behave in any relationship. This is not rocket science you know. . . you do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Period. There should be no I feel like this so I’m gonna do this. No, it should be about what is the right and the wrong ways to act in any given situation, and I am certain that most men are pretty aware of this.



    December 7th, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    Anybody acting too tough and thinking of women as weak is only trying to hide his insecurities.Real men are chivalrous,real men are respectful to women.Those acting otherwise only show how much trouble they have brewing within.

  • Grayson


    December 9th, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    What can I say?
    Most of us are simply victims of how we have been raised

  • A Gainstrom

    A Gainstrom

    December 10th, 2012 at 1:38 AM

    isn’t aggression just someone looking for control? maybe these people just have control issues they need help with not just aggression.

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