Contact:  G. Lawrence DeMarco, LLM
Phone: 1-215-901-1930

Media’s ‘Trashing’ of Boys and Men is Having Toxic Consequences

July 10, 2024 – A recent editorial in The Hill revealed that our culture’s trashing of boys and men is having toxic consequences, quoting a study that 70% of women prefer daughters over sons to the point that expectant mothers’ boy-bash on a social media chat board (1).

The book “Media and Male Identity: The Making and Remaking of Men” by J.R. Macnamara presents an in-depth study of how mass media shapes male identity. (2)

Macnamara’s research concludes that 69% of media portrayals of men are unfavorable, often casting them as aggressors, perverts, or incompetents. Positive depictions, such as good fathers or heroes, are less common, constituting only 18.4% of media portrayals.  His findings highlight that these negative portrayals send damaging messages to the public, influencing perceptions and behavior toward men in harmful ways.

Research on domestic violence exposes these negative portrayals as a falsehood because women are as likely as men to perpetrate domestic violence.  One analysis concluded that women are the instigators in 71% of Domestic Violence cases. (3)  Despite this evidence, media coverage often fails to highlight female-perpetrated violence.

An example of female-perpetuated domestic violence is a former Howard Stern writer admitting to beating up her boyfriend during a livestream, which received little public outcry. This incident underscores the media’s tendency to underreport or downplay violent acts committed by women, contributing to a skewed public perception of domestic violence. (4)

An example of this media bias can be found in a recent U.K. article trivializing the value of Father’s Day by claiming a burden on mothers. (5)

Journalistic ethics, as outlined by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics, emphasize the need for accuracy, balance, and fairness in reporting. The SPJ Code explicitly states that journalists should “seek truth and report it” and “balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort.” (6)

The ICMB calls for a balanced and fair portrayal of men in the media. Ignoring the many positive contributions of men perpetuates harmful stereotypes and obstructs the path to genuine gender equality. Media outlets are urged to adopt a more nuanced approach, recognizing the diverse and positive roles that men play in society.

The International Council for Men and Boys is a non-governmental organization that is working to end the 12 sex disparities that affect men and boys around the world. The ICMB is a leader of the emerging global movement to address the 12 areas of male disadvantage.  Achieving #GenderEqualityForMen also will benefit women.