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**Trigger warning: sexual violence and depression**


In almost every society, culture, or community there is a set of rules that each gender is expected to follow. These are called gender norms. Obviously, times have changed, and gender norms have loosened up a bit for many people thankfully. However, one group in particular still has it rough: men. Gillette’s advertisement titled “The Best Men Can Be” has brought up the concept recently and makes society wonder whether or not this is an issue that needs to be addressed. Short answer to the question… yes. The advertisement explores sexual harassment, the #Metoo movement, and the burden young boys face to conform to societies many gender norms.


What is toxic masculinity?

Toxic masculinity has been brought up recently in mass media and many advertisements. The phrase is linked to the fact that all men should restrain emotions during trying situations. They are also told to be dominant in relationships and be the protector and not the protected. Sadly, toxic masculinity can lead to things such as self-harm in teenagers, which then can lead to suicide. It can also lead to violence towards other people, such as rape  and other forms of physical or sexual violence. Many men who grow up in a toxic household that forces them to grow up masculine, exhibit little to no emotion and view them as negative and unnecessary. It makes them feel weak.


How is toxic masculinity created?

Toxic masculinity can be formed in many ways. Usually, it is familial and comes from a father figure. The term “boys will be boys,” aids to this as well. If two boys are fighting and it seems to get rough, the common things parents will say is “boys will be boys,” and brush it off. Due to not being punished for this behavior, when they become older, men will see aggression as a normal thing and pursue it upon other people. Another way this can be created is through hobbies. If a boy wants to pursue theatre or ballet, things considered “feminine,” then boys will in turn view them as just that and make fun of other men who do participate in them. Social pressures, family expectations, and many religious reasons can be harmful and cause a man to become a harm to himself and others.


How can we talk about toxic masculinity?

Toxic masculinity is entirely avoidable, and it all starts in the household. Firstly, instead of saying “boys will be boys,” start thinking along the lines of “boys will be held accountable for their actions.” If parents see two boys begin to rough house, then they should immediately


end the fight and tell both of the boys that it is wrong. As well, let people live their lives. If a man wants to do theatre or ballet, then let him, how is it going to harm your life?


Ava Smith

Purdue '23

Hello! My name is Ava Smith. I am a junior studying Advertising and Film Studies. I am from a suburb of Chicago called St. Charles and enjoy all the wonderful parks it has to offer. My hobbies consist of writing, filmmaking, and spontaneous adventures with friends. Currently, I am the Multimedia Manager for Boiler Communication and Social Media Moguel at the Hub on State Street. This is my second year being involved in Her Campus and I am so excited about all the new memories and opportunities I will make this year and for years to come!
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