If you spend any amount of time on social media and have any liberal types as friends then you will be familiar with the buzz term “toxic masculinity”. However, that doesn’t mean you will know what the phrase means. Luckily we are here to break it down for you and explain it in layman’s terms. Because not all men are clever enough to get it (that was irony).
The idea of toxic masculinity is born out of a system of society that we call the patriarchy. In a patriarchal society straight men sit atop. For most of civilisation it has been this way. Men have dominated society and that is why, especially in the English language, so much of the language is geared towards masculinity. For example, we have a postman, a binman, it is referred to as mankind – where are women in this equation? Exactly! That is one of the reasons why patriarchy is so problematic in the modern world.
The patriarchys views on masculinity
In this outdated model, the man is seen as a provider. Think of it how we view a “traditional” family. The men go out and work, the women stay at home and take care of the household. Within this dynamic, there is a view of what a typical man “should” look like. He is strong, silent and domineering. He is driven and ambitious and deals with his own problems. Many might refer to this character as an alpha male, but in the patriarchy, all men are supposed to take on an “alpha” status and those that aren’t are considered less masculine. In a patriarchal society, this is seen as a weakness.
Why this is problematic
Firstly and most obviously because it is incredibly sexist. In this form of society, women play a secondary role to the men. This is the type of society that feminism has to try to combat. But secondly and perhaps surprisingly given that in this societal form men are in charge. It isn’t fair on the men.
In a patriarchal society, men are shown that they are not to talk about their feelings. To display their emotion is considered a form of weakness. The problem then becomes men bottling up their feelings. This is problematic as it leads to men “lashing out” when you don’t discuss issues it can lead to anger. Also, it can lead to men suffering from severe depression made worse by the fact they cannot share their problems for fear it would encroach on their masculinity.
What are the affects of this
In modern society, toxic masculinity is still an issue. Toxic masculinity proliferates the idea that men have to do jobs that are physical. Men are lambasted for wanting to do jobs traditionally associated with women. If a man wants to be a nurse or a secretary there is a stigma around it. We still encourage young boys to be good at sports, ignoring the arts, poetry, etc. because this is the realm of women, right? Wrong.
It is because of this we are creating a world full of men not expressing themselves and this social and emotional immaturity is stunting males everywhere. Suicide is the leading cause of death for males under the age of 45 in the UK. This is because men literally cannot cope with living in a society that has expectations of them that are just unrealistic. Some men are physically strong and don’t need to share their feelings, but the percentage that cope in that way is low. Human beings are social animals. A healthy, functional human being does not live in isolation but is comfortable with being emotional. This is why tox masculinity is so, toxic.