Monthly Archives

January 2014

Young People Still Buy Into Gender Roles

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Firefighters should be men. Secretaries should be women (if women work at all).  These sound like the gender stereotypes of a bygone era, right? Not quite. It seems that a good portion of young people today still accept fairly traditional ideas about gender roles, according to a study of 12- to 34-year-olds conducted for MTV Knowing Youth.


Nearly one-third of those surveyed believe men are better breadwinners, while women are better staying at home. Half agree jobs like firefighting and car repair should be held by men, while at least a fifth believe that flight attendants, nurses and homemakers are best held by women.


In a way, the Millennials generation is caught in the middle of a rapidly changing gender landscape. While they are hesitant to shake the gender stereotypes of their parents’ generation, they also cheer when those stereotypes are broken down. Most of those surveyed believe that gender roles are largely formed by society, not set at birth, and that the roles have improved for both men and women in recent decades.


However, young men and women differ in how egalitarian things are, and ought to be. Three quarters of female respondents said women are more independent than in the past, versus just over half of male respondents. At the same time, 70 percent of women feel they don’t have the same career opportunities available to them as men.


The same split carries into the home. Young men and women agree childcare and household responsibilities should be split equally. But when it comes to how those tasks are actually being divided, Millennial men believe they are doing more than the women think they’re doing—men are twice as likely as women to believe that they share childcare and household tasks equally.


In the media, young people are once again of two minds about how men and women are portrayed. On the one hand, they believe that the media reinforce gender roles, often negatively (half believe that women are portrayed as sex symbols). On the other hand, they accept that men and women have different preferences and lifestyles, so they don’t mind gender-specific messages.

How Many American Men are Gay?

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What percent of American men are gay? This question is notoriously difficult to answer. Historical estimates range from about 2 percent to 10 percent.


But somewhere in the exabytes of data that human beings create every day are answers to even the most challenging questions.


Using surveys, social networks, pornographic searches and dating sites, I recently studied evidence on the number of gay men. While none of these data sources are ideal, they combine to tell a consistent story.


At least 5 percent of American men, I estimate, are predominantly attracted to men, and millions of gay men still live, to some degree, in the closet.


The census, Gallup and Facebook all suggest that the openly gay population is dramatically higher in more tolerant states. On Facebook, for example, about 1 percent of men in Mississippi who list a gender preference say that they are interested in men; in California, more than 3 percent do.


Are there really so many fewer gay men living in less tolerant states?


Roughly 5 percent of pornographic searches are looking for depictions of gay men in all states. This suggests that there are just about as many gay men in less tolerant states as there are anywhere else.


Data from reveals a similarly large number of missing gay men in less tolerant states. This suggests that these men are not only not telling Facebook they are gay but are also not looking for relationships online.


In the United States, of all Google searches that begin “Is my husband…,” the most common word to follow is “gay.” Searches questioning a husband’s sexuality are far more common in the least tolerant states. The states with the highest percentage of women asking this question are South Carolina and Louisiana.


Craigslist lets us look at this from a different angle. I analyzed ads for males looking for “casual encounters.” The percentage of these ads that are seeking casual encounters with men tends to be larger in less tolerant states. Among the states with the highest percentages are Kentucky, Louisiana and Alabama.


There is, in other words, a huge amount of secret suffering in the United States that can be directly attributed to intolerance of homosexuality.


Excerpted from How Many American Men are Gay? By Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, The New York Times, December 7, 2013.

Is Her Success His Failure?

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Deep down, men feel awful when their female partners succeed, Science Daily reports. Women don’t seem to have this problem.


According to a study from the American Psychological Association, it doesn’t matter whether their wives’ or girlfriends’ achievements were brainy, brawny or social—all caused the men’s self esteem to take a dive.


“It makes sense that a man might feel threatened if his girlfriend outperforms him in something they’re doing together, such as trying to lose weight,” said the study’s lead author, Kate Ratliff, of the University of Florida. “But this research found evidence that men automatically interpret a partner’s success as their own failure, even when they’re not in direct competition.”


Researchers ran a series of studies on nearly 900 people in the United States and Netherlands. In one study, they gave couples a problem solving test and then told each person that their significant other scored very well or very poorly.


Women weren’t affected by their male partners excelling—in fact, it seemed to boost their confidence in the relationship. While men verbally reported no drop in self-esteem, researchers used a word association test (e.g. “me” and “excellent” or “dreadful”) to reveal that deep in their subconscious, men weren’t feeling so hot about themselves.


Male self-esteem takes an even bigger hit when women outperform them at something, in other words it seems that competition only adds to the sting.


Why do men feel so threatened by their partners’ success? The authors think it’s because men still hang tightly to traditional ideas about gender roles. Most men are raised to believe that they should be more capable than their partners, and seeing their partners do well triggers deep insecurities—perhaps that the women will ditch them for someone better.

Parenthood Changes Gen-Y Shopping Habits

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Millennials are growing up—and so are their shopping habits. As kids enter the picture, the image of the young and hip, unattached Millennial is fading. Today Millennials give birth to 8 in 10 kids in the U.S., and the number of Millennial parents is expected to skyrocket in the coming years, Barkley reports.


“By overlooking the fact that many Millennials are now parents, brands could miss changes in behavior and consumption that directly impact their bottom line,” said Jeff Fromm, Executive Vice President of Barkley.


How has starting a family changed the way Millennials shop? It turns out the world’s most tech-savvy generation has grown to appreciate a good deal thrown into an actual shopping cart. When asked if they could choose only one retailer to shop at for the rest of their life, 18- to 34-year old parents offered a surprising answer—Walmart. The retail giant (44 percent) beat out (24 percent) and Target (32 percent), according to the survey.


Premium brands take a back seat to saving money after Millennials have kids. This is especially true for the categories of dining, entertainment, apparel and digital products. Instead of the four-star restaurant, they choose a two-star chain with room for a high chair.


Pre-parenthood, the survey showed favorite Millennial brands were Nike, Sony and Gap. Post-parenthood, those brands are Nike, Target and Apple. It’s notable that half of Millennial parents try to buy products that support causes or charities, something that Nike, Target and Apple have in common.

Video-Happy and Distracted

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Members of the Millennial generation are ravenous for digital video of all types, and view it on their devices everywhere they go.


But all that viewing spreads their attention span thin. Fully 94 percent of Millennials multitask on their devices, compared to 87 percent of Gen X-ers and 80 percent of Boomers, according to a study by YuMe. This translates to poor ad recall.


“Millennials are more heavily distracted while watching video, and therefore, ads have a harder time breaking through,” YuMe says in the report.


When asked to view an ad and then remember the details, Millennials lagged behind more focused Gen X viewers by nearly 10 percentage points on smartphones and tablets. The gap was wider when ads were viewed on TVs or computers, showing that smartphones are the most effective delivery for video ads directed at younger adults.


“Since Millennials tend to multi-task with other connected devices, there is a clear opportunity to plan for duplication and exposure, timing across devices.”


Another advantage of smartphones: Millennials perceive brands that advertise on their phones as more cutting edge. In contrast, older adults’ brand perceptions went down slightly when they viewed ads on their phones.

The Web’s New Social Currency

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Whether they’re posting fashion finds or “selfies,” women and young adults are leading 5-10 percent jump in online photo and video sharing over the last year.


Men are sharing more, too, but a recent survey from Pew Research reveals there’s an age and gender gap when it comes to creating original content and sharing what they find on the web.


First, the gender gap. More than half (56 percent) of women post to the internet original photos they’ve taken, as compared to 48 percent of men. The divide widens for sharing others’ photos, with 29 percent of men and 49 percent of women sharing pictures.


Guys close the gap slightly with video. A quarter of men post video they’ve recorded compared to 29 percent of women, and 34 percent of men versus 38 percent of women share clips they find online.


Then there’s the age gap. Young adults age 18-29 create and share content prolifically. Nearly 8 in 10 have posted original photos to the web as compared to 56 percent of adults ages 30-49. Eight in 10 younger adults share photos or videos online, compared to 59 percent of adults in their 30s and 40s.


“The ease with which mobile phones allow users to take and upload pictures on-the-go has created easy paths for photo-sharing apps,” Pew writes in the report, which asked respondents about Instagram and Snapchat in particular.

Playboy’s ‘State of Man’

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Meet today’s average Joe. He’s 37 years old, married, earns $48,387, and does at least some of the laundry. But if he sounds predictable enough, think again.


Playboy’s State of Man report asked 1,000 American men about everything from their retirement savings to their sex lives, and compared it to past data. The report paints a complex picture of the modern man struggling to pursue his interests and be happy while providing for himself or his family.


“Fairly satisfied” seems to describe the average man’s outlook on life, though many feel they’re far from thriving. Four in 10 were unemployed within the past four years, and a quarter say they have no extra money for eating out, travel or hobbies.


When asked what they would do with an extra $50,000 lining their pockets, the most common answer was pay off bills (37 percent) and only 5 percent would take a vacation. When the same question was asked in 1992, the most common answer was invest the money (52 percent), while 27 percent said they would take a vacation.


In fact, a quarter of men today don’t take even a week off for vacation, and 17 percent work 50 or more hours a week.


The average guy works out at least three times a week (64 percent) yet seems to be less satisfied than ever about his health. In a 1979 survey, 63 percent of men said they were “extremely satisfied” with their health. Today that number is 36 percent.


Ever connected, today’s man has more devices around him than ten years ago. He texts for a half hour each day on average, plays 36 minutes of video games, surfs the web for two hours and spends another two hours watching TV. Surprisingly, though, 57 percent of men rarely stream music or TV at all, and 30 percent read for more than an hour a day.


Eating into his leisure time is increased responsibility at home. Three quarters of men today do at least some of the dishes (up from 51 percent in 1990) and 68 percent cook (up from 50 percent). The biggest jump is laundry—63 percent pitch in today, compared to 35 percent in 1990.


A survey from Playboy had to ask about sex. When asked how happy they are with their sex life, 37 percent said they are very satisfied, down from 50 percent in 1992.

Millennial Men Defined by Digital

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Millennial males are stereotyped as couch-bound screen junkies that lag behind women their same age. But they don’t really see themselves that way. According to a report from eMarketer, 18- to 34-year-old males earn more than their female counterparts and are generally happier with their careers. But screen junkies they are—in fact, it’s an important part of who they are.


“Digital proficiency is a trait by which many [Millennial men] define themselves,” eMarketer writes. “Gluttons for entertainment, young men consume much of it in digital form.”


Mobile video is a good indicator of digital immersion. A Google poll found that 44 percent of 25- to 34-year-old men watch a video on their smartphone daily, compared to 27 percent of women in that age group.


While Millennial women have an edge on cell phone ownership (72 percent versus 70 percent), men have more readily embraced internet and mobile shopping. Four in ten Millennial men would buy everything online if they could, compared to 31 percent of Millennial women. And young men are also more likely to use mobile shopping apps and price compare using their phones.


“U.S. men are spending more of their lives as the primary (or sole) shopper in their households, and digital is helping them along,” eMarketer writes.