Classic ‘Man’s Man’ Likely to Drink More, Study Finds
In Western culture, notions of masculinity typically contrast with notions of femininity. Social and personal traits commonly associated with masculinity include fairly open displays of ego, overt pursuit of money and/or power, a heavy emphasis on personal achievement, a relative tendency toward aggression and violence, freedom to act in sexually promiscuous ways, suppression of emotional expression and a desire to maintain strict separation of male and female social roles. Conversely, traits commonly associated with femininity include an emphasis on social relationships rather than ego-driven achievement, a preference for negotiation over violence and aggression, a de-emphasis of sexual promiscuity, freedom to display emotions publicly and a lower level of emphasis on keeping male social roles separate from female social roles.
Heavy Episodic Drinking and Binge Drinking
The terms heavy episodic drinking and binge drinking refer to the rapid or short-term consumption of large amounts of alcohol. Public health officials in the U.S. commonly use the term binge drinking, which is defined as the practice of consuming enough alcohol in roughly two hours or less to boost your blood-alcohol content (BAC) to the 0.08 percent. The average man needs to consume five or more standard drinks (each containing 0.6 oz of pure alcohol) to reach this state, while the average woman needs to consume four or more standard drinks.
Heavy episodic drinking is a term most commonly used outside the U.S. The World Health Organization defines this pattern of excessive intake as consumption of a minimum of 60 grams (2.1 oz) of pure alcohol in any single drinking session. A quick comparison shows that the definition for heavy episodic drinking involves a lower threshold of alcohol intake than the definition for binge drinking. However, both definitions are intended to highlight the well-established personal and social dangers of consuming a lot of alcohol in a short span of time. Known consequences of this pattern of drinking include heightened odds for accidental injury, heightened odds for purposeful injury, increased involvement in unsafe sexual practices, increased chances for alcohol poisoning and increased chances of perpetrating sexual violence or being the recipient of sexual violence.
Impact on Drinking in Young Men
In their study, the University of Western Ontario researchers used an online survey of 1,436 male university students between the ages of 19 and 25 to explore the connection between commonly held notions of masculinity and any given young man’s chances of participating in heavy episodic drinking and experiencing negative outcomes related to this pattern of alcohol consumption. The survey included topics such as the degree to which an individual adheres to expectations for masculine behavior, any preexisting beliefs about the benefits and drawbacks of drinking, the frequency of participation in heavy episodic drinking and the frequency of any negative drinking-related outcomes.
The researchers concluded that maintenance of a classically masculine behavioral pattern among young men is closely associated with increased chances of taking part in heavy episodic drinking, as well as increased chances of experiencing harm related to heavy episodic drinking. Specific aspects of masculinity that play a prominent role in this finding include a sexually promiscuous outlook and adherence to male codes of violence. The researchers also concluded that heavy episodic drinking and negative drinking outcomes are associated with a preexisting expectation that alcohol will increase the freedom to act in aggressive or risky ways.
Based on their findings, the study’s authors concluded that classically masculine attitudes and behaviors in young men increase the odds for heavy episodic drinking and related negative outcomes both directly and indirectly. They believe that attempts to come to grips with the classic male perspective may result in lower risks for involvement in heavy short-term alcohol consumption.