Toxic masculinity is a term used to describe overly vulgar male behaviour and often consists of the poor treatment and a power dynamic with women. It effects everyone, irrespective of gender, values and whether you think you even have the symptoms. Whether you are a male sportsman at university, a woman working in London, or a mother parenting their child, the notion of toxic masculinity plays a part in your life. It not only effects the individual who has contracted it but everyone around them.
As a man myself, I can feel it’s implications on me, even as a person who is alert to the issue and detriment it causes. Playing sport at University and being in an over-macho environment left it as a challenge to not be shaped by the ‘traditions’ and apparent heritage of the club. It can feel like a question between having friends, wanting to fit but losing yourself, and vice versa. But, in fact, usually it is not like this. Most of the time, the man will not even realise what is happening. As if being brainwashed, the environment that we are installed in shapes us to thinking and believing that these actions are acceptable.
And what’s worse is this is the case on the female side too. It becomes understood that this is the way the world is and this is their position in society. ‘That’s the way boys are.’ But why? Is it because that’s what we are told boys should be like? I don’t believe it is because they are bad people. It has just become so engrained in society, we can do little else but let it tarnished and distort our decisions and actions.
The negative effects of toxic masculinity can also not be as obvious. Part of this disease to society is that men live in fear. A fear of weakness. A fear of emotions, those intrinsically human personality traits and parts of life that get shunned negatively on women for no real reason. Suicide is the biggest killer amongst young males and there’s clear and overt evidence that shows this is due to the difficulties that block us from communicating our feelings. If a man uncovers the truth of their emotions to others they are seen as weak, not showing the stiff upper lip that is considered brave in male circles.
True bravery is uncovered in battle these social norms and challenging the culture with being a better individual. It is not brave to hide your sadness and your mental scars but to lay them before for people to see.