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Bullying in Binary Gender System

Research proposal

Xenia J. Kozlov

Adler University

Problem Statement

The binary gender system inexorably falls into conflict with the emerging humanistic values which suggest diversity and acceptance for all genders. However, traditional culture is still strong enough to dictate the usual frames for new generations. We propose a research which explores the impact of binary gender values on the most vulnerable group - on children. For this research, we suggest tracing the relationship between the binary gender system and the phenomenon of bullying which is probably one of the most crucial problems of modern childhood.

Literature Search

Currently, there are several research directions devoted to bullying phenomenon. Although studies are multidirectional, most of them agree that there's one main set of standards of binary gender culture that works as a trigger and fertile soil for bullying – masculinity, or, as it referred in literature, toxic/violent/harmful masculinity. Specialists define harmful masculinity as specific patriarchal construct which states that ideal masculinity should be “related to toughness, stoicism, heterosexism, self-sufficient attitudes and lack of emotional sensitivity” (Wall and Kristjanson, 2005; as cited in APA, 2018). The mentioned directions can be divided into several groups; the methods vary.

The first group studies or at least approves the correlation between masculinity and bullying. This correlation is positive, that is to say, the higher range of masculine behavior produce the higher range of bullying. For example, Pozzoli (2006) stated that there is a correlation between gender roles and bullying – the study involved 113 students, six- to ten-year-old, teachers’ and supervisors’ reports were also included. Watson (2007) explored the relationship between masculinity and violence. She noted that, though the masculine nature of violence at school was obvious and easy to prove, society did not associate the acts of violence with gender. She also assumed that this connection is not made because society is so conditioned to the fact that men and boys have always made up the preponderance of violent offenders in the US. The attitudes and behaviors associated with the socially constructed culture of masculinity that lends themselves to male violence and aggression are explored as well (Watson, 2007).

The second group of studies refers to the binary gender system as a toxic environment which affects both males and females. Guberman, Dhrodia and Kosowan (2018) presented the results of the two-years-long study performed in Canadian Universities’ campuses – students reported that they were punished for not-following the roles prescribed by their gender. Wong et al. (2017) conducted meta-analyses of the relationships between conformity to masculine norms (as measured by the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory-94 and other versions of this scale) and mental health-related outcomes using 78 samples and 19,453 participants. The results showed that particular masculine norms can impair an individual's mental health. Atkinson and Kehler (2012) found the relationship between bullying in “gym zones” and obesity in adolescents. A particular part of literature is devoted to external (non-school) impact, such as family (Labella & Masten, 2018) or mass media (Giaccardi, Ward, Seabrook, Manago, & Lippman, 2016).

The third group is the closest to research we propose using existing models and scales for the traditional gender system to describe either gender roles or the process of bullying emerging. Tonso (2009) describes violent masculinity as a cultural trope which is the simplification of the world, the image for action. Two main forces which form the violent masculinity trope are general cultural attitudes brought into the schools and school hierarchies. Violent masculinity trope dictates young males the need to belong to hierarchy, while the lack of it creates “status anxiety” - the feeling of loss the place in society, and mistreatment. Blazina, Pisecco, Cordova, and Settle (2007) use the gender role conflict (GRC) scale to define whether adolescence is more or less vulnerable by binary gender influence than adulthood. The results show that adolescence is much more vulnerable. Berger and Rodkin (2009) refer to gender role as social status and define that masculinity does not necessarily mean males/boys – girls also tend to express masculine behaviors. Young and Sweeting (2004) use a gender diagnostic (GD) approach to examine relations between gender-atypical behavior, gender roles, bullying, peer relationships, and psychological well-being in a large community sample of 15-year-olds. The study shows that male gender was positively associated with being a bully, and vice versa – gender-atypical boys reported more victimization, loneliness, fewer male friends, and greater distress than gender-typical boys.

Research Methods

The studies in all three groups seem being somehow scattered so the need to unite them into one multi-dimensional model is reasonable. The very nature of this task dictates the mixed-method approach with a focus on qualitative methods and using quantitative methods as supportive. As the topic involves gender problem, it seems to be reasonable to work within the feminist paradigm but, since the further general task is the deconstruction of the current system, postmodernist viewpoint seems to be also productive.

Research Instruments

Regarding the qualitative part of the research, the grounded theory approach seems to be the best fit because theory development is the basic goal of this research. Meta-analysis and comparative technique are to contribute the research resulting in working and feasible model which is suitable both for further research and practical application (e.g. evaluation).

To support the qualitative part, quantitative methods are planned to be used. Current groundwork involves two groups of variables which allow using correlation, ANOVA, and hypothesis testing (see Table 1).

Though field work and direct tools (e.g. interviewing, statistical research) are not planned, the possibility of their use is not excluded.

Possible Areas of Concern

For the qualitative part, the risks of one-sided or biased research and result interpretation should be considered. Also, the participants should have multicultural knowledge and be aware of social responsibility values.

For quantitative research, the Type I and Type II errors should be avoided – that is, the measures to prevent improper sampling and misinterpretation should be taken.

Intended Results

The particular goal is to build a comprehensive model of binary gender-violence (bullying) interrelation. We assume that this model would meet both theoretical and practical requirements. The more general goal is to initiate, basing on knowledge of bullying mechanisms, the development of positive models, which could replace bullying.


American Psychologist Association: APA (2018). Harmful masculinity and violence: understanding the connection and approaches to prevention. Retrieved from

Atkinson, M., & Kehler, M. (2012). Boys, bullying, and biopedagogies in physical education. Thymos, 6(1), 166-185. Retrieved from

Berger, C., & Rodkin, P. C. (2009). Male and female victims of male bullies: Social status differences by gender and informant source. Sex Roles, 61(1-2), 72-84. doi:

Blazina, C., Pisecco, S., Cordova, M. A., & Settle, A. G. (2007). Gender role conflict scale for adolescents: Correlates with masculinity ideology. Thymos, 1(2), 191-204. Retrieved from

Giaccardi, S., Ward, L. M., Seabrook, R. C., Manago, A., & Lippman, J. (2016). Media and modern manhood: Testing associations between media consumption and young men's acceptance of traditional gender ideologies. Sex Roles, 75(3-4), 151-163. doi:

Guberman, C., Dhrodia, R., & Kosowan, L. (2018). Beyond sexual violence: Considering other forms of harm experienced by post-secondary students. Canadian Woman Studies, 32(1), 78-82. Retrieved from

Labella, M. H. & Masten, A. S. (2018). Family influences on the development of aggression and violence. Current Opinion in Psychology, 19. 11-16.

Morales, J. F., Yubero, S., & Larrañaga, E. (2016). Gender and bullying: Application of a three-factor model of gender stereotyping. Sex Roles, 74(3-4), 169-180. doi:

Pozzoli, G. G. (2006). The role of masculinity in children's bullying. Sex Roles, 54(7-8), 585-588. doi:

Stoudt, B. G. (2012). "From the top on down it is systemic:" Bullying, privilege and the schooling of hegemonic masculinity. Thymos, 6(1), 17-33. Retrieved from

Tonso, K. L. (2009). Violent Masculinities as Tropes for School Shooters The Montréal Massacre, the Columbine Attack, and Rethinking Schools. American Behavioral Scientist, 52(9), 1266-1285. DOI 10.1177/0002764209332545

Watson, S. W. (2007). Boys, masculinity and school violence: reaping what we sow. Gender and Education 19(6), 729–737.

Wong, Y. J. et al. (2017). Meta-analyses of the relationship between conformity to masculine norms and mental health-related outcomes. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 64 (1), 80-93.

Young, R., & Sweeting, H. (2004). Adolescent bullying, relationships, psychological well-being, and gender-atypical behavior: A gender diagnosticity approach. Sex Roles, 50(7), 525-537. doi:

Addendum 1

Table 1.

Peer-review addendum

Suggestion (where in the text)



Insert page number (the title page)


According to APA format (Purdue University, n.d.), the title page should be numbered as the first page.

Remove the graphics (the title page)


APA format; the graphics may be added by the publisher if needed.

Insert title of the paper (p. 2)


According to APA format, the title of the paper should be repeated at the beginning of the text, after the Abstract and Keywords.

Articles a/the (throughout the text)

Replace as suggested

The author is not the native English speaker, so the mistakes in articles may be present.

The text should be written in a third person (throughout the text)


APA format allows using the first person ("I" and "we") when describing the personal actions of the author(s).

Syntax and punctuation (throughout the text)

Replace as suggested

The author is not a native English speaker.

Toxic masculinity definition (p. 1)

1. Accept

2. Add "harmful masculinity" definition as a synonym (APA, 2018).

If during the peer-review the definition of the toxic masculinity is needed, it is a sign that more wide auditory would need it as well.

“…the first group of studies at least approve the correlation”


There is a difference between finding/approving correlation and studying the correlation (e.g. positive or negative).

Explain the correlation between gender and bullying


Though further text explains the correlation between bullying and masculinity, it should be clarified if needed. The correlation between bullying and masculinity is positive – the higher levels of masculinity provokes more bullying.

Use the format of an annotated bibliography (Literature Review)


The APA style does not require the annotated bibliography for Literature Review part. Since all the rules of citing are observed, the plain text format is preferable for the author.

Word use

“for example” instead of “thus”

replace "argues" with a synonym

use past tense

use nouns instead of adjectives

use passive voice instead of gerund

“and” instead of “&” in text


The author is not the native English speaker; semantic nuances checked.

The postmodernist approach (p. 3) is marked as interesting

Accept for further research

Usually, gender-related studies use a feminist approach as gender is one of the main feminist objectives. Using a postmodernist approach may give an extra view on the topic.

Explain why the grounded theory would be the best fit? (p. 3)

Accept if the text size requirements allow

There could be a paragraph which defines grounded theory and connects it with current research goals.

Explain how the risks may be decreased (p. 4)


Reducing the risks of the research is an independent topic which refers to any scientific research.

Use “References” instead of “Bibliography” (p. 6)


There should be “References” (author’s mistake).

References for ADDENDUM:

American Psychologist Association: APA (2018). Harmful masculinity and violence: understanding the connection and approaches to prevention. Retrieved from

Purdue University (n.d.). APA Formatting and Style Guide. Retrieved from:

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