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What is 'manly'? Millennials have a different answer than older generations

By Leah Groth ; Updated May 01, 2018
Millennial men are way less selfish and more altruistic than you think.

According to new research, millennial and Generation Z men see selflessness and social consciousness as important masculine traits — a pivot from the values of previous generations.

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Hailing from Canada, the new study found that what men between the ages of 15 and 29 defined as masculine is totally different than their elders — with selflessness, social consciousness and openness amongst the most important traits.

Of the 630 men surveyed on the values they hold, 91 percent of them believed helping others whenever possible was very important and 80 percent were supportive of men participating in community-service projects. Openness was also major to the millennials and Gen Zers: 88 percent of them insisted that a guy should be open to new ideas, experiences and people.

Through interviews with the participants, researchers found that young men felt they had more freedom to be sensitive than generations before. They also learned that men are more health-conscious.

“Young Canadian men seem to be holding masculine values that are distinctly different from those of previous generations,” lead study author and University of British Columbia nursing professor John Oliffe said in a press release. “These values may run counter to long-standing claims that young men are typically hedonistic, hypercompetitive and that they risk or neglect their health.”

However, men are still traditionally masculine in other ways. For instance, 75 percent feel the need to be physically strong, while a staggering 87 percent believe intellect is a crucial trait. Wealth also ranked high, as did autonomy, with 78 percent feeling that a man should be “independent.”

While it’s impossible to compare exactly how different today’s gents are from previous generations (researchers point out that traits named by the study may have been packaged differently to participants and are actually similar to the ways older men defined chivalry), it does say a lot about how men today have the freedom and self-assurance to speak their minds. “What it shows is that those guys are willing to articulate these values, whereas previous generations may not have been able to,” explains Oliffe.

Gone are the days Time magazine covers labeling millennials as “lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents” and using the generation as a punch line of endless jokes!

Moral of the story? Just because millennials might be spending way too much on avocado toast, it doesn’t mean they aren’t selfless, do-gooding, altruistic people.

Read more: Men’s Happiness May Depend On This Family Dynamic

What Do YOU Think?

Are you surprised by the findings of this study? How do you think millennial and Generation Z men differ from their elders? Do you think the same could be said for women? Tell us what you think in the comments!

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About the Author

Leah Groth is a writer and editor currently based in Philadelphia. She has covered topics such as entertainment, parenting, health & wellness for xoJane, Babble, Radar, Fit Pregnancy, Mommy Nearest, Living Healthy and PopDust.

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