Friday — December 17, 2021
"Just Be a Man About It" - A Conversation on Toxic Masculinity
by: Cesar J Segura
Most people have heard someone use the phrases “boys will be boys”, “real men don’t cry”, or “just be a man about it”, (among others) toward young men. Although these phrases tend to be very common when referring to young boys throughout their development, these phrases often perpetuate negative stereotypes contributing to toxic masculinity. Now, don’t get me wrong, masculinity itself is not toxic. However, toxic masculinity refers to limiting and potentially dangerous societal standards set-forth for men and others who identify as masculine.
So, what is toxic masculinity? Many researchers have determined the following components to be considered the main aspects of toxic masculinity:
Toughness: a notion that man is tough, has aggressive behaviors, and is physically strong in appearance and ability.
A-femininity: the rejection of anything feminine (not masculine in nature). This can include taking pride in one’s appearance, showing emotion, and/or accepting help from others.
Power: the idea that a man can only be respected by having financial power or social status.
Heterosexism: discrimination of those who do not identify as heterosexual.
Why is toxic masculinity bad? There are many reasons toxic masculinity is considered bad. For starters, toxic masculinity contributes to rape culture by often referring to cis-gendered women as sexual conquests. This can lead to an increase of victim blaming under the guise of “boys will be boys”. Toxic masculinity more often than not promotes an increase of violent behavior among men. Often times men are expected to utilize physical violence to solve their problems. If a man seeks to avoid a confrontation with another person, this person is generally seen as weak or less masculine. Additionally, previous research has suggested that men experiencing traits of toxic masculinity often experience both mental and physical health issues. These include but are not limited to depression and sleep deprivation. The same research also suggests that this same group are less likely to seek professional help from medical personnel (Morin 2020).
Overall, aspects of toxic masculinity have been instilled within our culture over time. We can work together to break down aspects of toxic masculinity by encouraging men to express their emotions, discourage the use of violence, and encourage men to seek help when it is needed (Pappas 2019). Below are additional resources that may be beneficial if you are seeking to discover more information on toxic masculinity and how to combat current societal standards.
Morin, A. (2020, November 26). What is toxic masculinity? Verywell Mind. Retrieved December 17, 2021, from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-toxic-masculinity-5075107
Pappas, S. (n.d.). APA issues first-ever guidelines for practice with men and boys. Monitor on Psychology. Retrieved December 17, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/01/ce-corner