Masculinity Around the World

masculinity around the world

What makes a man manly?

In the past, this might have been an easy question to answer – but what about today? In a world of men in eyeliner, sexy male bakers and articles that argue peeing sitting down is good for your sex life, what does masculinity look like now?

We asked more than 1,000 European and American men to tell us about their masculine habits – and then asked our female respondents to weigh in on what’s sexy, what’s just fine, and what’s not.

A Wanted Man

men and women define their personality style by nationality

Metrosexual, lumbersexual, don’t-give-a-damn-sexual … when it comes to traditional ideas about masculinity, the good news for guys is that women’s answers were across the board.

The majority of women – over 50% – said they liked a mix of manly and metro. About 38% liked manly men who didn’t care about fashion. Just under 8% said none of these categories described their ideal man. And about 4% of women preferred a metro man with refined tastes.

Interestingly, most of the men in our survey – both from the U.S. and U.K. – saw themselves as manly men, while only about 25% said they hit that manly-metro sweet spot the ladies most loved.

Bathroom Habits and Masculinity

men and women tell if they ever sit down to pee

Here’s a strange and fascinating question: Does sitting down to pee make a man less manly?

Not according to our survey.

Just over 50% of American men said they sometimes sat down to pee, and a whopping 67% of European men did the same. In fact, more and more men are choosing to sit rather than stand. Even American sex symbol Ryan Gosling is a sitter.

So how do the ladies feel about a man who sits to pee? According to our survey, most didn’t care. About 55% of European women and 65% of American women said they didn’t find it less masculine to pee sitting down. And 36% of European women (and almost 8% of American women) actually preferred it if their man took a seat.

I Love You, Man

men tell us if they tell their friends they love them

As masculinity shifts generation by generation, how many men tell their close male friends they love them?Around 64% of European men and 48% of American men said they never show this level of affection to their male buddies. And approximately 18% of European men and 32% of Americans said they do say “I love you,” but very rarely.

When asked about how they interacted with family, things didn’t change much for Europeans. Roughly 56% said they never tell male relatives they love them, and 25% admitted they only say it on rare occasions. Americans were somewhat more open, with a little less than half saying they never tell their dads, uncles, or brothers “I love you.”

Interestingly, some studies suggest men may actually be more emotional than women. And a lack of expression is most likely the result of cultural taboos – not a lack of feeling or even a lack of desire to express the feeling.

Testosterone and Tears

men and women say if a male friend cried in front of them how this would make them feel

So what about tears? How do we feel when a man cries while in our company?

When we asked men, the most common response was “uncomfortable.” For European men, the second most common feeling was sadness. American men, on the other hand, were likely (about 39%) to feel trusted or honoured that their friend felt comfortable enough to be emotional.

And women? As you might expect, both European and American women were very likely (around 52% and 55%, respectively) to feel trusted or honoured when a guy pal got teary-eyed. Slightly less than 20% said they felt sad. And less than 10% of women on either continent said male tears made them feel uncomfortable.

Getting Your Manly Groove On

men talk about what activities they've participated in and if it's seen as sexy

Some activities have a reputation for attracting more women than men. But when we asked our survey respondents if they’d ever danced, baked, or painted, plenty of them had. Americans were more likely than Europeans to bake, paint, dance, babysit, and go to yoga, while European men edged Americans out slightly in the categories of knitting, quilting, and Zumba®.

And when we asked women which of these activities turned them on? The art of baking, dancing, and painting led the way, with 70% of American women (and nearly the same amount of European women) finding baking incredibly sexy. Almost 60% of American women (and 50% of European women) said dancing had sex appeal, and about 55% of American women (and 50% of European women) pointed out painting was a turn-on.

Manning Up Across Two Continents

Traditional views of masculinity have shifted over the years, but, according to most psychologists, there’s still a long way to go. In fact, one study showed conforming to societal masculinity norms is connected to poor mental health, depression, and substance abuse. Traditional masculinity is also often seen as a factor in violence and abuse. And a woman’s happiness in a relationship is directly correlated to a man’s empathy.

So perhaps it’s refreshing to see the majority of women say the men they’re most attracted to are not the traditional manly men, that more and more men are releasing the silly notion that peeing standing up somehow makes them more of a man, and American men seem to be making a move toward more expressiveness with their male friends and relatives.

Here’s another area where most men could stand to improve their communication: talking about their health. Even in private conversations with your doctor, discussing medical concerns can require courage. That’s why ZAVA offers discreet, online access to physicians who prescribe treatments designed to keep you happy and healthy.


We surveyed over 1,000 Europeans and Americans and asked them what they thought about masculinity.

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