WASHINGTON, DC—It’s time to call out the “toxic masculinity” in the world of fitness.
According to a new study published in the journal Fitness, there’s more of a “toxicity of masculinity” among the women’s fitness community than men’s, with a high percentage of women and women of color in their respective subgroups exhibiting “aggressive” and “hostile” traits towards men and masculinity in general.
“We know from our own experience that a lot of what we call ‘good’ and ‘respectable’ in the fitness community is really just a bunch of misogynistic behaviors, and that’s something that we’ve also been seeing in the broader community as well,” said author and fitness expert Susanne Mennig.
“I think the toxic masculinity we see in the community is actually a reflection of the fact that women are not seen as valued in the way that men are.
That’s why when it comes to running, walking, swimming, lifting, and all of that, we’re really all women and all women are seen as a bunch to be bullied and abused.
And we can all relate to that.”
The study analyzed data from nearly 300 fitness professionals from more than 20 countries across the globe, and identified four common characteristics common to both male and female fitness professionals: “aggressive behavior,” “hostility toward other fitness professionals,” “assertiveness and self-assertion,” and “reputation in their community.”
Mennigan and co-author Dr. Michael A. Lippman conducted the study with research assistant Lisa Fuchs.
Lipsmann, a former assistant professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Central Florida, has also conducted research with Mennigs team on how women’s perceived strength and physical performance were affected by their gender.
The study found that, in both genders, the most aggressive behavior was seen in men.
In addition, the majority of the men exhibited hostility towards other fitness trainers in their own community.
“If you look at all of the things that have happened to women in the past, it’s really not that much different than what’s happening to men,” Mennigans co-authors told Breitbart News.
“When it comes down to it, women in general are not treated as a valued part of the community, and women in fitness generally are seen more as an ‘other,’ a ‘poo.'”
Women’s subgroups, especially those of color, also reported that their community’s culture of masculinity was harming their health.
“For women, there is a very strong negative association between perceived strength in the male community and being judged for strength in a social context, and the same is true for the general fitness community,” said Mennigen.
“Men, on the other hand, are perceived as the ‘heroes’ and they have to prove themselves in a very masculine way.
So that’s where this ‘toxic masculine’ part comes from.”
A survey conducted by Mennige and her colleagues found that “the most common behaviors that women expressed toward their male colleagues in fitness were aggression and hostility.”
The survey also found that the “hostiles” group of women had a higher likelihood of being referred to by a female fitness trainer.
“Women were much more likely than men to report that their male friends or colleagues would make derogatory comments about them in the workplace,” the study authors wrote.
“A higher percentage of men reported feeling ‘self-conscious’ when they had to confront a woman, and this self-consciousness was most likely experienced in the presence of their female peers.
Women also had higher rates of depression and anxiety.
When women were asked how they perceived their gender in comparison to men, they expressed the same level of negative self-concepts.”
“These behaviors are not only seen by women in a hostile way, but by other members of their communities as well.
We are also finding that in a male-dominated society, this is seen as more threatening, more threatening to women, and as being a threat to the health of women,” Mohnig said.
“It’s not just a female issue, but a problem that men also have.”
The research findings have been described as “striking” and will likely influence the fitness industry in a negative way, Mennigi said.
She added that it’s important to note that the results were not based on “gender bias.”
“We are seeing in our research that men in fitness are more aggressive in general than women.
I don’t think that this is necessarily a result of a negative stereotype about men, but it is an important indicator of the harm that can be done to men when they are perceived in a more aggressive manner.”
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