BE A MAN. You must be swift as the coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon, with all the strength of a raging fire…mysterious as the dark side of the moon. As Li Shang once sang in ‘I’ll Make a Man Out of You.”
WHAT IS IT?
Toxic masculinity is a set of attitudes and beliefs which we ‘typically’ tend to associate with men. OR in other words, what society expects of men. Of course, this doesn’t have a good impact as men are conditioned towards acting in certain ways and doing certain things. By speaking to a range of different men over the past week, we’ve gathered some information about toxic masculinity and how it’s affecting them. In fact, even feminism’s stance towards men often states that toxic masculinity is a problem that has to be dealt with because men deserve better. Let’s take a look at three pockets of toxic masculinity that need breaking;
‘BE MORE DOMINANT! THIS MEANS YOU’RE MORE POWERFUL!’
The ideas and stereotypes around toxic dominance have made many men into insufferable narcissists with the emotional ranges of teaspoons. Men are expected to ‘look strong’ or ‘be more dominant’ than their partner’s to be considered as worthy and there are feelings of shame or guilt associated if they don’t cater to these expectations. The problem with this ideal is that men psychologically turn this into things like unconditional physical toughness, physical aggression or even anti-feminist behaviour. But what does it REALLY mean to be a man? Is there a definition at all? Can’t we let individuals live for themselves and express themselves in the ways which make THEM comfortable and happy?
‘STOP BEING SO SENSITIVE. STOP CRYING!’
Traditionally, we face the age-long concept of men not crying. While overtime this has slowly broken, we still see so many young and older men trying to hold back tears or not show as many emotions ‘as a girl would.’ Even little boys are taught to hold back their tears and not to cry. But why? Cry it out babes. Healthy tears are so attractive and as one of the guys I spoke to said “it’s a way of letting all the bad and heavy stuff come out.” The fact so many men are conditioned to believe they need to put up this tough-front is heartbreaking. All humans should be allowed and entitled to feel emotions. This, if anything should be encouraged and honestly a lot of this conditioning can blame patriarchy. Let it out!
‘WHY ARE YOU ACTING SO FEMININE?’
So many men are afraid to embrace their inner feminine energy. They’re like Ken from the new Barbie movie thinking they need to build a ‘MOJO DOJO CASA HOUSE’ with huge horses and embellishments. Paint your nails, wear whatever you want and express yourself however you are comfortable. The world is moving towards a space that is accepting of all individuals and how they wish to live but we have incredibly far to go.
So what is healthy masculinity? Realising that men too have it rough because of toxic masculinity. Helping the guys around you break down these barriers piece by piece and just letting them know as Barbie did to ken; you are kenough!