What Exactly Is Toxic Masculinity?
Toxic masculinity is idea that our culture has certain strict beliefs around what it means to be a man, and these beliefs are harmful to all genders. A few examples:
- Men are far more likely to commit suicide than women. This is in part because men are often reluctant to appear weak and do not seek help to manage mental health issues.
- Men face social judgment when they enjoy non-traditionally masculine pursuits. This not only limits men's opportunities for growth and enjoyment, but it also limits them from pursuing certain professions often dominated by women. When professions are dominated by either gender due solely to social barriers, we lose perspective, insight, and intelligence that would be brought by those not represented.
- Men statistically earn higher wages than women. Due to this economic imbalance, men often do not take parental leave (in countries where this is an option) as it is financially not feasible for families. This continues to contribute to an imbalance of childcare responsibilities and often relegates men to a position of a secondary caregiver.
- Certain professions are dominated by men and are often hostile to women. This results in limited female participation in some sectors and therefore limits innovation driven by genuine competition.
- There is sometimes a prejudice against fathers that results in a mother receiving full or primary custody of children, despite evidence that this is not in the children's best interest.
- Pop culture frequently portrays fathers as inept, bumbling fools who need strict supervision by their female partners to be able to raise their children with any degree of competence.
- Rape culture tells us that men are out of control, their desire so base and primitive, that they are overwhelmed with the urge to violently sexually assault women wearing clothing seen as provocative.
And for every example of toxic masculinity above, there is a corresponding attitude of misogyny that feeds into it.
It's a vicious cycle, really, and one that is millennia old. But by examining these cultural ideas of masculinity and stripping them down, we might be able to slowly move forward into a world that is not so poisonous for all genders.