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Toxic masculinity has taken over our social media platforms recently. Every man seems to be under-fire for something at the moment, but why? 


Toxic masculinity is driven by social expectations of what manhood has to consist of. The idea is that there are norms and traits that men have to fit in with and, not only is this harmful to men, but also to the rest of society. 


They have to be socially dominant, sporty, competitive and confident, or they aren’t a ‘real man’. These traditional masculine traits will never be applicable to every single man on the planet. Yet there is the expectation that they must contort themselves and change their individual identities to fit in. Emotions are seen as weak, and it creates a spiral of self-reliance and in the worst cases, even violence. There is no one pure form of masculinity like the idea suggests. If you can’t change yourself to squeeze into this very specific box, you automatically suffer. Being someone you’re not is exhausting, and imagine the extra pressure of society questioning your masculinity if you slip up. 


“Boys will be boys.” “Man up.”


We are constantly surrounded by such phrases that we throw them so casually into our conversations. But have we really thought about what they mean? We need to be accountable and abandon these “boys will be boys” and “man up” attitudes. We need to construct a more positive model of masculinity that makes room for different identities.


More people are challenging the norms of masculinity, but there is still a long way to go. Some male celebrities are bringing their ‘femininity’ into the mainstream, such as Harry Styles and Jaden Smith. Wearing skirts and dresses isn’t all there is to be done but, they’re still showing the good that can come out of embracing different identities.


As girls, our transition into womanhood is considered mainly physical, rather than social, but for men, their journey into ‘manhood’ can be more consumed by traditional views of a man’s role. We are now increasingly told that we can be anything we want, but men are still put into this box of having to put up a hard exterior. Think of how many more women are doctors now, but still how few male nurses there are. Or, even the things which seem insignificant, like how your male friends refuse to order that pink cocktail they think sounds really good. Toxic masculinity comes into everyday situations so often, but it is still taboo for so many people.

We have redefined what it means to be a woman in recent years, and it’s time to do the same for men.

Vicki Mileson

Nottingham '23

20, University of Nottingham. Third year Modern Languages student. Writing about university life, book recommendations and travel.
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