Socialisation, masculinity and adolescence
The rigid and persistent stereotypes regarding gender can be perpetuated through a lack of socialisation and sensitisation of teenage boys to this issue, resulting in increased risk behaviours for men that begin in adolescence.
Adolescence, defined as the period between 10 and 19 years old, is a time of rapid social, emotional, physical and neurological changes that have a lasting impact well into adulthood; it is a time of opportunity and vulnerability (United Nations Children's Fund, 2011; Davies, 2012). The socialisation of masculine ideals begins at a young age, defining ideal masculinity as related to toughness, stoicism, heterosexuality, self-sufficiency, attitude and a lack of emotional sensitivity and being connected to others (Wall and Kristjanson, 2005). Boys can learn to be men from men in their lives, from their own experiences as they work through social norms, and from the large social and cultural context. Boys are living under increased demands to express gender-appropriate behaviours.
Boys and men are diverse with regards to their race, ethnicity, culture, migration status, age, socioeconomic status, ability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religious affiliation; they are unique beings. Each of these social identities according to the American Psychological Association (APA, 2018) will contribute in intersecting ways to shape how men experience and perform their masculinities, which in turn contributes to relational, psychological and behavioural health outcomes, positively and negatively.
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