As a young woman with access to social media, it’s always been important to me that I follow forward-thinking pages that post inclusive, positive and informative content. I love seeing posts of women empowering women, along with the empowerment of everyone. This is the very definition of feminism: supporting women’s rights means equality and support for all genders.
One thing that I have noticed while scrolling through these types of pages on my feed is the misinterpretation of the phrase “toxic masculinity.” What I mostly notice is people targeting men for what they enjoy, rather than trying to educate their following on the true definition of toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity is not the argument that men are toxic or dangerous for being men, but rather the idea that forcing men to adhere to traditional masculine ideals is toxic and dangerous. Just like women, men should not be expected to fit into a certain gender role within society.
Along with this, it’s important to note that the fight against toxic masculinity is not the fight against masculinity in general. It’s perfectly okay to be masculine, just as it’s also okay to be untraditionally masculine. Similarly, being traditionally feminine or “girly” does not mean that a woman cannot be in charge or powerful. What a person enjoys does not define the limit of their successes in whatever field they pursue.
The very ideals from the past about how a gender should act and look like are skewed and need to be corrected. We live in a time where people can more fearlessly and unapologetically be themselves, without fear of persecution or harm, so it’s important to recognize and act when someone is degrading another person for being just that: a person. As a society, we need to let other people live their lives because most of the time, their life has little to no effect on our own.
It is important to recognize that letting other people live their lives doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t act when one person’s actions are at the expense of someone else’s. Taking action against toxic masculinity and all other kinds of persecution, whether in conversation or online, is important and it’s everyone’s duty. Being able to recognize situations like these and making corrections is what our society needs to learn to do. We cannot shoot each other down because of our differences, but rather we must raise each other up.
As a woman, I often feel as though I am “not womanly enough,” because of the ways I may juxtapose the traditional female character that the society and media have created and emphasized. No one should ever have to feel like they are not enough, be it a man, a woman, or whatever one may identify as. Toxic masculinity, along with toxic behavior in general, needs to be stopped. Being aware and willing to take action is the only way to solve it.