Ladies, don't make your men do womanly tasks. Performing women's work will threaten their manhood and fill them with rage and anxiety, which can only be alleviated by punching things. This is science.
ABC's Lee Dye reports on a study by University of South Florida psychologists: they asked men either to perform the incredibly degrading, feminine task of braiding a woman's hair, or to braid some "gender-neutral" rope. Then they let them choose between punching a bag or doing a puzzle. You guessed it: the hair guys wanted to punch! In a second experiment, they let everybody punch the bag and measured who did it harder — again, hair guys. And in a third test, they made everybody braid hair, but only let half of them punch. Result: non-punchers were significantly more anxious than the guys who got to take out their post-braiding rage on the bag.
It seems that some men are stressed out by performing stereotypically female tasks, and feel the need to express aggression afterwards. There are all sorts of interesting things one could say about this. Let's see what Dye says:
[W]e guys must constantly prove that we are worthy of our "precarious manhood" by going off to slay the savage beast, if someone is watching, but you girls don't have to do anything to prove your womanhood. It came with the cradle.
My first thought is I hope my parents didn't call me a "woman" when I was in my cradle, because that would be creepy as shit. My second thought is that neither the hair study nor anthropological work Dye also cites proves that womanhood is something biologically granted and impossible to take away. It's true that a dude can be unmanned, at least in American, in a variety of ways — including, apparently, braiding hair. But a lady can be unwomanned if she behaves aggressively, if she dresses in unstylish clothing, if she fails to remove her body hair, if she enters certain spaces as a person of color, if she has sex with the wrong people or in the wrong way, if she is sexually assaulted, if she is fat, or if she gets old. These things won't necessarily cause a woman to be thought of as masculine, but she'll be deemed in violation of our cultural ideas of appropriate femininity. Ideals of masculinity can be just as damaging, and affect far more important activities than braiding hair. But let's not pretend that men are the only ones who have to live up to the rigid demands of their gender.
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