Toxic Masculinity and Patriarchy: Barriers to Connecting Biopsychosocial Risk for Male Violence to Policy and Practice

Kenneth Corvo, Paul Golding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Effective policies and programs for addressing and reducing male violence including intimate partner violence must be informed by an in-depth understanding of biopsychosocial theory. This understanding needs to proceed from the substantial empirical research in the early life development of boys, taking into account the unique vulnerabilities of males and considering the complex inter-mixing of biological, psychological, and sociological factors. Simplistic explanations encoded in the constructs “patriarchy” and “toxic masculinity” have been facilely accepted to explain male violence without rigorous efforts to confirm their validity. The public perception and the policy framing of violence and violent crime maybe influenced by these sorts of constructs. When believed to be either a matter of macro-sociocultural influences or ideologically or ethically aberrant choice, violent behavior is the behavior of men who then deserve only punishment or re-education. Biopsychosocial theory appears to have been broadly resisted or even intentionally misconstrued, with reference to misconceptions about the etiology of violence, the emphasis on punishment over treatment, an ideological reluctance to address empirically established differences between the two sexes, and notably, in policies and programs that address domestic violence perpetration. Several aspects of male development are high-lighted which are seldom identified in the underlying biological, psychological, and sociological vulnerabilities of males with regard to violence perpetration. These susceptibilities lie at the base of male violence and must be better understood to effectively address the issue and to design effective interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)420-434
Number of pages15
JournalPartner Abuse
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022


  • biopsychosocial
  • masculinity
  • policy
  • violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Law


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