Perception of masculinity amongst young Malaysian men: a qualitative study of university students
1 Medical Education and Research Development Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur 50603, Malaysia
2 Avicenna Research Institute, ACECR, Tehran, Iran
3 Iranian National Center of Addiction Studies (INCAS): Risk Behavior Institution, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
BMC Public Health 2013, 13:1062 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1062Published: 11 November 2013
Perception of Masculinity plays an important role in men’s lifestyles and health behaviors. Although, the importance of masculinity has been widely discussed in men’s health literature, very little is known about the meanings of masculinity in the Malaysian setting. This research aimed to explore the meanings of masculinity among Malaysian university men.
This qualitative study utilized in-depth interviews with 34 young Malaysian university men, aged 20–30 years from three main ethnic groups in Malaysia (Malay, Chinese and Indian). Thematic analysis approach was used to extract data. NVIVO v8 qualitative software was used for data management.
From the data collected several concepts emerged that reflected the meanings of masculinity from the participants’ view points. These meanings were associated with a combination of traditional and non-traditional norms that generally benefit men who behave according to culturally dominant role expectations. These included: “Having a good body shape”, “being respected”, “having success with women”, “being a family man”, and “having financial independence”. Socio-cultural factors, such as family environment, religion, public media and popular life style patterns helped to shape and reinforce the meanings of masculinities among university men.
This study revealed that the university context provided a particular culture for construction and reinforcement of the meanings of masculinities, which should be considered by the educators to help in development of healthy masculinities.