Masculinity and Men's Intimate and Fathering Relationships: A Focus on Race and Institutional Participation

Kristy Krivickas, Bowling Green State University

Abstract

I use the Fragile Families data to examine how a diverse group of men can be classified into multiple forms of masculinity. I identify three ideal categorizations of masculinity: the traditional, contemporary, and hyper-masculine models. Cluster analysis results confirm that these categories differentiate forms of masculinity among fathers to create three distinct categories of masculinity. I find a contemporary masculinity category that displays the most socio-economic advantages and "positive" qualities of masculinity. Contemporary masculinity is characteristic of fathers who are egalitarian, emotionally available to the baby’s mother, more likely to be married and educated, and the least likely to have ever been incarcerated. Alternatively, the hyper-masculine fathers have the most abusive behaviors, least emotional availability, and are the least likely to be married and educated, while being the most likely to have ever been incarcerated. The last group of fathers is the traditionally masculine fathers who essentially fall in between the contemporary and hyper-masculine fathers. My final two research questions examine if masculinities influence men’s intimate and fathering relationships. Using multinomial regression models, I address if masculinity predicts whether fathers transition into a more or less committed relationship with their child’s mother between the birth of the child and the child’s fifth birthday. I find that intimate relationships, do indeed, differ by forms of masculinity. Contemporary fathers are the most likely and hyper-masculine fathers are the least likely to be continuously married. Hyper-masculine fathers are much more likely to transition into a less committed relationship than to either remain in the same type of relationship or transition into a more committed relationship. Lastly, I use OLS regression models to address whether forms of masculinity are related to father involvement, specifically distinguishing the amount of time fathers engage with their child, five years after the child’s birth. My findings suggest that fathers within the traditional masculinity category are the least involved with their child. Critically, hyper-masculine fathers are significantly more involved than both traditional and contemporary fathers. My research contributes not only to the literature on fragile families, but also to broader scholarship on gender. My research also extends previous college-based samples on masculinity to a larger and more diverse sample to gain a better understanding of how fathers display masculinities. Emphasizing race and institutional participation differences allows for a more in-depth analysis of the ways in which men’s masculinity can be classified. Finally, my research finds crucial predictors of both family structure and fatherhood involvement; which may provide the foundation for future research on both father well-being and child well-being.