#5: What Exactly Is Toxic Masculinity?

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.

 

Amber Pohl
Founder

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#4: Can we Change the World?

Can We Change The World?

Like millions of people, I was aghast at the outcome of the US election in November 2016. As a Canadian, it might seem nonsensical to have such a strong reaction to a foreign election. For me, it wasn't, as many people would have you believe, about liberalism or conservatism, left or right. It wasn't about a reasonable difference in political ideology or garden variety disappointment in an election outcome. It wasn't about being sad that a female candidate lost; far from it, in fact.

It was that for the first time, my worst fears about the existence of hate had become really and truly evident. I knew that it existed, of course, but I had underestimated the scale of it. There's a lot of discussion and analysis about the election results and not all of them point to misogyny and racism and xenophobia. But I don't think it can be denied that these were a major factor in many circles. And for the first time, I felt real, genuine fear: fear that the enormous American cultural influence will negatively impact billions of us around the world.

And what I also realized, as truly humbling as it was, is that my privilege in life had largely insulated me from this fear for so long. The fear that so many other people from less privileged backgrounds see and feel on a daily basis had largely bypassed me until now. I'd felt anger, I'd felt injustice, and I'd seen and experienced firsthand how misogyny operates. But I'd never felt fear before, and I'm ashamed that it took this fear to really wake me up.

This project is overwhelming in its scope, and I suppose the pessimist would say that it can't be done, that it's too big: reshaping our culture by tackling attitudes of toxic masculinity. This attitude was so obviously a factor in the American election and is serving as a catalyst for the rise in outspoken extremism and hatred. This extremism was always there, but it seems like it has now been given legitimacy.

And it's true: this is a huge and daunting undertaking. But we have to start somewhere. And if this project can help change the conversation, can help be a positive light in a darkening world, or can help someone, somewhere, then I think it's worth it. If we've challenged the status quo in some small way, we've changed that tiny piece of our world.

 

Amber Pohl
Founder

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#3: Help Wanted!


Help Wanted!

As this is a grassroots, community-driven site, we are always looking for new contributors. If you are interested in finding good quality, evidence-based resources for the library and social media pages, we want to hear from you. We also need writers to create original content.

And if you're an educator, we will soon be launching lesson plans and other educational resources for teachers geared at boys. We would love to feature your contributions, and we would love for you to use our plans.

Please email us to find out how you can get involved.

Amber Pohl
Founder

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#2: Why Boys Will Be Boys?

Why Boys Will Be Boys?

"Boys will be boys" is the old adage used to excuse or explain behaviour by boys and young men, whether as something as innocuous as rowdiness to something as serious as impaired driving or sexual violence.

I don't agree that boys will be boys in that sense, and this phrase has justified so many destructive behaviours over generations. I believe that boys need to be able to see that there is a huge range of diverse behaviour, experiences and identities that make them boys beyond this. Among many other things, boys will be:

Funny

Serious

Active

Still

Quiet​

Loud

Happy

Sad

Angry

Loving

Confident

Uncertain

Playful

Reflective

Laughing

Crying

Outgoing

Introverted

Athletic

Artistic

Human

I wanted this site to turn the traditional meaning of the phrase in its head. Boys will be whoever they may be. And being a boy must never be used to excuse violent and dangerous anti social behaviour. All boys are worth so much more than that.

 

Amber Pohl
Founder

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#1: Welcome to Boys Will Be Boys!

On July 11, 2013, I gave birth to a son. After the dust settled (does it ever really settle with small children?), I began to notice that there was a wealth of wonderfully empowering resources for girls and young women, which is absolutely necessary.

But I started to realize that there is a major gap in comparable resources for boys. I'd often notice something geared to girls on, say, sex education or gender roles, and I'd think that this is something that boys need to see, too. If we want to move to an equitable and just world, we really need to focus on educating boys and young men on a range of topics that seem to focus mainly on girls while boys get left behind. Toxic masculinity is so pervasive and it harms everyone, not just men, just like misogyny harms everyone, not just women. I believe that educating boys is a big part of this equation.

And so I decided to create this site, and its associated social media pages, in the hopes that it might help change the conversation around toxic masculinity and to provide positive and evidence-based resources to help boys and young men. It's intimidating in many ways, and I have a lingering fear of getting it wrong. But I've decided that it's important and that the project's possible value should be greater than my fear. Our fear of making mistakes or not getting it right all the time shouldn't stop us from trying to make a difference.

I'm actually somewhat reluctant to present this as a project created by a mother, because I find that our society actually often devalues the contributions of moms: they're often seen as cute or light or overly earnest or worrying or what have you. And I think that toxic masculinity is much, much deeper than something that stereotypically silly mommies worry about, as it impacts every single one of us, mothers or not. We have a long way to go.

I sincerely thank you for visiting this site at its launch, and I also gratefully thank our community contributors. I must also thank the talented Bianca Smalley, who designed the look and feel of the site and whose input on this project has been invaluable.

I hope that you find something useful in the site's contents as it continues to grow.

Amber Pohl
Founder

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