Toxic Masculinity: Down to the Nitty Gritty

Toxic masculinity; you’ve heard it used in numerous feminist readings, but are not quite sure what it actually means. Toxic masculinity may be used by those who don’t know its true meaning as a way for feminists to tear down men, a.k.a. the ‘man-hating’ values that most think of when the word feminism is brought up. But in all reality, toxic masculinity is really pro-equality, as are most feminist values. What toxic masculinity really is is the violence associated with society’s idea of masculinity. 

In the documentary “Tough Guise” (highly recommend!!) directed by Sut Jhally, young men were asked what being a ‘man’ really meant to them, most of them answering with words like “intimidating”, “physical”, and “tough”. Now, using these words to define manhood forces young men to fit into a certain mold of masculinity that is deemed acceptable by society. And this view of masculinity promotes violence among men.  This idea of manhood affects men of color, especially, due to the fact that the media rarely represents minority men as anything but intimidating and violent. If you’re not tough or physically intimidating, you get called a “whimp” or a “pussy." (Source)

When men are not seen as manly, they’re called names like “fag”, “bitch”, or “pussy.” This is especially detrimental to violence against women, because men who fit into the mold of manhood are basically taught that any form of femininity is negative. This then forms a misogynistic view towards women, which can lead to violence towards women like sexual assault and domestic abuse. (Source)

The media’s idea of masculinity is an especially dangerous one, and is not only dangerous to men, but to women, as well. Toxic masculinity teaches young men that being tough and violent is the only way to be a man, and if you’re not in that mold then you’re not a man. Being a ‘man’ is meant to be challenged, especially because of how conformed the idea of masculinity is in the media.