"Toxic Masculinity" and Why it is Important for Everyone to Know About

As Women’s History Month approaches, I feel like we should also discuss a topic that affects everyone. This topic is “toxic masculinity”. Now, when this term is brought up, it normally only refers to violence in men. However, there is more to this topic than just that.

“Toxic masculinity” is something that men learn when they are young. It is not something people are born with. It is a learned trait and a bad one at that. When boys are young, they typically learn what it means to be masculine from the men in their lives and from what the media shows. While this is not always a bad thing, it can be when it starts to attack the feminine sides of boys. From a young age, boys are taught to not cry. Crying has always been seen as something feminine, even though it is just a normal response to pain or sadness. However, because it is associated with femininity, boys are taught to shut the tears away in order to be ‘real men’. Along with this belief, men are normally taught to not show their deeper emotions aside from what is considered masculine emotions. Deeper emotions that boys are told not to show are typically sadness, mental pain (such as depression), physical pain, and love. Again, these emotions are seen as feminine and thus cannot be shown on the faces of males. However, just like everyone, men do feel these emotions. Afterall, men and women are not that much different on any scale. Even at the scale of DNA, only one set of chromosomes sets us apart from one another. Men, women and everyone in between are all human. Thus, we all have emotions, however, “toxic masculinity” is the idea that men cannot show their true emotions. It even goes further by stating they have to act tougher and meaner to prove to others that they have no emotions.

This is where the violence comes in. One of the easiest ways to show how masculine someone is, is to attack someone else. By harming someone, the other person shows they are dominant over that person. According to the ideals of “toxic masculinity” being dominant is manly. This is why the media is continuously showing men in violent situations. One of the most popular forms of media for young boys to learn violence is through video games. Games such as Grand Theft Auto show men as being powerful. This can also be heard in certain forms of music where men, especially black men, learn it is okay to be violent. Again, men learn how to be violent from others; it is not a trait they are born with. This is why it is so important to know about these things. We as a society have to teach our young boys that violence is not an answer. Boys are taught to see violence as a form of expression while also being able to dominate others. This is not a healthy type of expression for anyone. 

This is why I bring it up before women’s month. “toxic masculinity” is a problem that men must face and accept as bad. However, it is not just a man’s issue. “toxic masculinity” affects women just as much, if not more, than men. While this ideal harms boys mentally for their futures as men, it affects women more because they are normally victims of men acting out. Since “toxic masculinity” states that men need to be dominant, they normally try to dominate women. This is done in forms of physical, mental, and sexual abuse. Even if a woman has not been attacked by a man, they still fear the idea that they could be. I, for one, am cautious around men. Even in broad daylight, I am watching men who are around me. I worry about them following me or trying to touch me. Once, when my sister and I were playing badminton at a park, a man’s dog came after my sister. I remember holding my racket tightly in case the man, who had started to approach the dog and my sister, was going to grab her. Even though he was older and just trying to get his dog, I still had the thought that he might be using his dog to get close to my sister and grab her. I believe this thought even more so since we were the only people at the park that day. It is sad to think that I had to be ready to attack him but that was how I was raised. Like most women, I was raised to be careful around men and attack them if need be. I learned where to kick and hit a man in order to hurt him and run away. When I was a freshman, I was given a safety whistle. Like most women, I was trained to be fearful of males because of the idea of “toxic masculinity”. 

This is not how society should be. I should not have to be on guard all the time around men. Just as men should not feel a social pressure to be aggressive and non-emotional. While this is getting a little better with how future generations are parenting their children, it is still a current social issue. Most men have been taught that being emotional is girly and sissy. We as a society, from all genders, need to eliminate these words from our minds. Men need to be able to express themselves in healthy ways and to seek help if they have unhealthy ideas. Women need to be able to walk anywhere and not fear that a man might attack her. Likewise, it is important to teach these new ideas to the younger generations so that they may grow up in a healthy environment where they are safe, no matter their gender.