Confrontation and loss of control: Masculinity and men’s fear in public space

Day, K., Stump, C., & D. Carreon.
Journal of Environmental Psychology, 23(3): 311–322

Existing research typically examines fear in publicspace from women's perspectives. To date, environment–behavior researchers have largely overlooked men'sfear in publicspace, and the role of masculinity in shaping men's perceptions of fear and safety. This paper investigates the intersections of traditional, dominant masculinity—or masculinism—and men'sfear in publicspace, based on interviews with 82 undergraduate men students. Masculinism features qualities such as control, competition, aggression, and physical strength. We argue that, for many men, publicspaces and situations that challenge this masculinist identity may generate fear. Similarly, spaces and situations that promote feelings of safety do so, in part, by bolstering this identity. We employ the lens of masculinity to explore men's feelings of fear of the unknown, heightened awareness and safety, fear of confrontation, and safety in numbers. Conclusions examine implications for the development of masculinity and recommendations for future research.

Wagner Faculty