“In their book, The Tough Standard, Levant and Pryor practically rip the topics from today’s headlines and situate the troubling events of men’s violence in a strong theoretical and empirical body of work, bringing light—instead of just heat—to the issues they address. It is a must-read as a resource to understand and engage in critical issues affecting our lives, families, and the fabric of society in the United States.”
—James R. Mahalik, PhD, Professor, Lynch School of Education and Human Development, Boston College

“Most acts of sexual assault and gun violence are perpetrated by men, yet most men are not violent. How then do we explain the connection between men and violence without condemning men? In this book, Ron Levant and Shana Pryor skillfully address this conundrum, by shifting the focus of analysis to masculinity. This book has the perfect blend of contemporary issues (e.g., the #MeToo movement), science, theory, and practical examples. I highly recommend it to anyone who seeks to understand the complex relationship between gender and violence.”
—Joel Wong, PhD, Professor of Counseling Psychology, Indiana University

“Take a deep breath and prepare to hold yourself and your community accountable. The Tough Standard takes an honest and well-researched look at the implications of modern masculinity. Accessible to both researchers and nonacademics alike, The Tough Standard pulls back the veil to reveal how we are all impacted—and indeed complicit—in the construction of modern masculinity. As we look to heal and move forward in a positive way, The Tough Standard offers invaluable insights and tools to get us there. It’s a comprehensive, thoughtful, and profound piece of work. A fine compilation of a lifetime of research and beautifully linked to the political and cultural moments of our time.”
—Cleo Stiller, author of Modern Manhood and Peabody Award-nominated television host

“In a nation awash in violence, Ron Levant and Shana Pryor’s wise book contains a vital message for the moment: Men may be the perpetrators of almost all of this violence, but they are not the only ones at fault. Rather, reared to strongly endorse masculine norms, they learn habits that often harm women, children, the earth, and themselves. Dr. Levant understands that traditional masculinity can be positive with its emphasis on protecting and supporting others. But too often, protection becomes possession, support becomes suppression, and men use their physicality to dominate. Dr. Levant and Ms. Pryor are neither apologists nor prosecutors of men. In this ultimately hopeful book, they contend that given more and better options, most men would choose a type of masculinity that heals rather than harms.”
—Neil Chethik, BSJ, Executive Director, Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning; Author, FatherLoss: How Sons of all Ages Come to Terms With the Deaths of Their Dads and VoiceMale: What Husbands Really Think About Their Marriages, Their Wives, Sex, Housework, and Commitment

The Tough Standard is the most important book on men and masculinity available today, and it couldn’t come at a more opportune moment. At a time when sex and gender issues are confusing and conflicted, Dr. Levant and Ms. Pryor offer a scientifically sound exploration of what it means to be a good man in today’s world. Drawing on 45 years of experience as a leader in the field of men and masculinities, Dr. Levant gives us a book that will change lives for the better. Unlike many evidence-based experts, he shares his own personal journey as a husband, father, and a man. I highly recommend this book for all those who want to understand why men are the way they are and how we can expand our understanding of masculinity to become our best selves.”
—Jed Diamond, PhD, author of 12 Rules for Good Men and The Irritable Male Syndrome

“A provocative, insightful, and useful book that is timely in addressing how men’s violence permeates our world. Levant and Pryor’s excellent data-based analysis on how masculinity ideology and gender role conflict/stress contribute to men’s violence toward others is significant in identifying what has been left out of many critical discussions on a national level and in men’s and women’s lives. This book is highly recommended to anyone wanting to understand the role that violent masculinity plays in explaining America’s number one problem—violence against other human beings.”
—James M. O’Neil, PhD, Professor of Educational Psychology, Department of Educational Psychology, Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut, and a licensed psychologist in private practice in South Windsor, CT

“What do men do when long-established concepts of masculinity no longer define the American male? In the workplace, the home, and even the military—perhaps the last bastion of traditional American masculinity—the roles of men are increasingly challenged. There are no easy answers to the complex and changing definition of masculinity, and Levant and Pryor do not pretend to present any. By a careful dissection of elements of traditional masculine identity, this book provides some insight into how such attitudes have shaped American men. The authors do a service by providing the reader not with answers but with framework for further discussion.”
—Morgan T. Sammons, PhD, ABPP, Executive Officer, The National Register of Health Service Psychologists

“A masterful analysis of what we know, what we need to know, and what we need to do about the connection between masculinity and violence. Levant and Pryor provide an essential understanding of male sexual and gun violence that is sensitive to racial/ethnic, cultural, and class differences. In addition, they offer insight into some tricky conceptual issues about masculinity and a sympathetic view of the challenges that men face in meeting ‘the tough standard’—today’s changing, diverse, and often contradictory expectations for them.”
—Joseph H. Pleck, PhD, Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois

“This is a critically important work from a leading scholar and founder of our modern psychology of masculinities. The authors synthesize decades of research across various disciplines to help us better understand how masculinities and violence intersect in the lives of some men. Using their experiences, Levant and Pryor wrote a book that is provocative, incisive, and relevant for us who work with masculinities.”
—William Ming Liu, PhD, Professor, University of Maryland and Editor, Psychology of Men and Masculinities

“We are well past the time for a serious discussion about the connection between masculinity and violence. Ron Levant and Shana Pryor are the perfect guides for an honest and evidence-based discussion about what is one of the most pressing concerns facing modern society. This is a thoughtful and intelligent book that helps the reader understand the underlying concerns that are much deeper than the common discourse about violence. At some point we all have to take a deep look at the culture of violence that influences us all and has vast consequences for many men.”
—Matt Englar-Carlson, PhD, Professor, Department of Counseling, California State University, Fullerton

“In The Tough Standard: The Hard Truths About Masculinity and Violence, Dr. Ron Levant and Shana Pryor take decades of authoritative work on masculinity in American men and describe how it can and has led to violence, as well as to economic stagnation and other social pathologies. At this moment of extensive feminist reawakening and intensification, by way of the #MeToo movement, and the importance of inclusiveness and intersectionality, Dr. Levant and Shana Pryor’s findings feel essential for men, women, and the culture.”
—John Kelly, author of The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People and The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time

The Tough Standard is the new standard for understanding the shaping of masculinity and the risks of rigid overadherence to traditional norms. This critical volume also addresses the role of masculinity in modern social challenges, from gun violence to untreated trauma. An essential tool to understand today’s social problems and their links to gender socialization.”
—Mike C. Parent, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Austin

“Dr. Ron Levant has devoted his impressive career to understanding and helping men. In this new volume, he reviews and synthesizes his substantial publication record with the available literature, providing new insights on a body of research and therapeutic work that spans four decades. The Tough Standard provides provocative evidence about how America’s traditional definition of masculinity contributes to men’s violence against others and themselves.”
—Andrew P. Smiler, PhD, Therapist, and Author of Dating and Sex: A Guide for the 21st Century Teen Boy and Editor, Online Publications, Society for Research on Adolescence

“A timely book that is packed with research and insights from a distinguished career in studying men and masculinity. Levant and Pryor do not shy away from controversial topics like gun violence, suicide, and sexual assault, and they offer realistic and urgent solutions to help promote health in boys and men.”
—Kate Richmond, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology, Director of Women & Gender Studies, Muhlenberg College


Ronald F. Levant is the 2020 Winner of the Rosalie G. Weiss Lecture Award for Outstanding leaders in Psychology, sponsored by the American Psychological Foundation and Division 29 and 42 of APA. The award was based on his co-authored volume: The Tough Standard: The Hard Truths about Masculinity and Violence.

Ronald F. Levant and Shana Pryor won the 2021 William James Book Award, from Division 1 (General Psychology) of APA, for our book, The Tough Standard: The Hard Truths about Masculinity and Violence.