Upskirting and social media anxiety: GQ report lifts lid on modern masculinity

Study finds that three out of 20 men in the workplace do not view upskirting as sexual harassment.

GQ: latest issue features State of Man survey
GQ: latest issue features State of Man survey

Fifteen per cent of 25- to 34-year-old men don't consider taking a surreptitious picture up a woman' skirt as workplace sexual harassment, according to the State of Man study by GQ and YouGov, in partnership with Gillette.

"It means that three out every 20 men you currently work with believe it is not sexual harassment to do something that parliament is currently proposing carry a two-year prison sentence and would see those convicted placed on the sex offenders’ register," the research explained.

It stated: "Never has more been expected of us, never has there been more to worry about and never have there been so many awful men to apologise for. It’s sometimes felt that being a man over the past two years was simply to be on a non-stop walking apology tour for other men."

State of Man identified a crisis of modern masculinity and a mass of contradictions. More than half (55%) of men over the age of 55 do not think that wolf-whistling at a female colleague in the workplace counts as sexual harassment, while 11% of men aged 25 to 34 said they had changed their behaviour as a result of the #MeToo movement. 

Just over half (52%) of men over 55 were aware of #MeToo, in contrast to 88% of men aged 16 to 24. 

Shifting definitions of success

The report also revealed a sea change in what constitutes modern masculinity, with "being present as a father" the statement most associated with modern masculinity. In contrast, just 14% thought being the main breadwinner in a household was the most important indicator of masculinity. Meanwhile, 70% of men aged 25 to 34 think that telling a man to simply "man up" is tired, staid and unhelpful. 

Masculinity in crisis

Almost a third (32%) of all respondents agreed that masculinity was in crisis, yet almost an equal amount (35%) disagreed. It's a state of play that reflects the fact that while masculinity is in flux, many men don’t yet know what change looks like – or as the report explains: "We know the rules aren’t what they were, but the new rules have not yet been set."

The research also underlined the mental-health crisis affecting young men today; almost a quarter of 25- to 44-year-olds have thought about taking their own life in the past year. This rises to more than a third in the LGBT+ community. For the most affected age group of 25- to 34-year-olds, 6% have attempted suicide in the past year.

The report suggests a tipping point over attitudes to social media on mental well-being, with all age groups viewing social media more negatively than positively; for example, 40% of 35- to 44-year-olds said social media had a negative impact on their lives. It's a trend that is reflected by recent comments from Campaign Against Living Miserably's chief executive, Simon Gunning, that "social media is this generation’s smoking".

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