Toxic Masculinity: Society’s Way Of Telling ‘Man Up’ To Emotions
By: Megha Sanghvi
When the world was created, men and women were given roles according to their physical caliber. The men, being muscular, had to bring the food and go to the war with others to protect the family. The woman, being feminine, had to nurture and take care of the family. As society evolved, these gender roles altered too. The “mardaani” (muscular) part of women took time to get used to. However, men showing feminine traits are still not considered “mard” (manly) by society’s standards. That is nothing but toxic masculinity. Not accepting the beautiful part of our existence. Masculinity and femininity energy coexist in all humans, regardless of gender orientation.
How to Identify Toxic Masculinity Traits
The term “toxic masculinity” is frequently used to refer to the glorification of the traditional aspects of being a man. Showing traits such as aggressive behavior, exerting power on the weak, suppressing real emotions, and being homophobic. These kinds of actions can be destructive to oneself as well as others in society.
Which are some traits that identify toxic or unhealthy masculinity?
- Acting strong outside, even if vulnerable inside.
- Resorting to violence and aggression to resolve issues.
- Discriminate on the basis of gender stereotypes.
- Display homophobia towards other men who are not “manly” enough. makeup-wearing different clothes, being emotionally vulnerable, or having different sexual orientations.
- Belittling other men when showing empathy and care.
- Bullying others on the basis of sexual orientation.
- Locker room talk and sexual exploitation of men and women.
Toxic Masculinity in Society
The birth of a male baby signifies the occasion of joy. For keeping the family’s name forward and being the light bearer of the clan. While protecting their children, parents frequently distinguish between a girl and a boy. Fearing their child might not fit into society or get picked on. If they show traits of not following gender norms.
- Don’t put on pink.
- Why are you so shy like a girl?
- Boys don’t cry.
- You have to be strong to protect your family, as you are the man of the house.
- Leave that barbie, let me show you some racing cars.
- You don’t need to help your mother in the kitchen.
While growing up, you form opinions based on conditioning. The root cause is stopping a young boy from doing something that is not supported by gender stereotyping. From a tender age, children start learning to suppress their real emotions. Thus forming a tough outer shell. According to a study, boys told to “man up” by peers are more likely to bully others.
The Larger Effect of Toxic Masculinity on Society–
1. Deteriorating Mental Health of Men
Symptoms of depression in men manifest differently than in women. Constantly living in a system that promotes exaggerated masculine traits often messes up their emotions.
Signs and symptoms of depression in men include
- Suicidal thoughts,
- Overworking or burnout,
- Using alcohol to express real emotions
- eating disorders,
- Lack of focus
- Erectile dysfunction
(b) Social Anxiety Disorder
According to statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health, 14.3% of men had symptoms of social anxiety.
Negative experiences often trigger social anxiety among men. Fear of rejection, bullying and violence are all documented causes of anxiety. Because they are nicer, ask for help, display feminine characteristics, are not manly enough, or have chosen a different sexual orientation. Because of the aforementioned factors, men face discrimination and harassment from their own families, co-workers, and friends.
(c) Substance abuse
Many men have different ways of dealing with problems. They have learned the only way is to suppress and keep silent to protect others. Instead of talking or seeking help, they tend to rely on alcohol to escape the problems. It helps in the relaxation of their negative emotions for a brief time. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Trusted Source, 68,000 men and 27,000 women die each year from alcohol-related causes.
These statistics show how some men are using alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with the stress and pressure of living up to this stereotype, so alcohol helps them deal with the shame and embarrassment.
2. Homophobia against LGBTQ+
Individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ experience discrimination, assault, employment insecurity, lack of social security, and rejection from family and friends. because they lack traditional masculine traits and have a different sexual orientation. LGBTQ+ communities are frequently viewed as being threatened by other traditional and orthodox communities. According to a study conducted in the United Kingdom, same-sex partnerships are illegal in 70 countries. They are not protected by either the government or society.
From an early age, members of the community are vulnerable to hatred and bullying. According to the same report, 42% of LGBT+ students faced bullying in the previous year. It’s ironic that these members used to be on the Kings Advisory Committee during ancient times. Since they carry both masculine and feminine energy, as a result, they carry a 360-degree perspective on any matter. Are now neglected as a part of society by their own friends and family.
3. Suffering women
Women suffer because of toxic masculinity in terms of physical and sexual violence, aggression, not getting equal pay, and not having a say in important matters.
Women often have to work and manage the home, as chores in the house used to be entirely their responsibility. Apparently, it was too manly to help your wife. But you are man enough when you abuse her physically and mentally. Globally, as many as 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence during their lifetimes. If as a society we condition young boys by indicating womanhood or femininity is weaker than masculinity, we shouldn’t expect any positive outcome.
4. Identity Crisis
Often, men end up in situations where they question their role in society other than performing the duties and responsibilities. Some men in the LGBTQ+ community wonder how they will fit in a world that is full of hate towards the identity they carry so proudly. Conflicts easily arise when they hold a different set of values and beliefs than the people around them. In addition to not being prepared and being stigmatized, gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals have a hard time developing an identity.
5. Self-burdening from responsibility
For a long time, we believed that patriarchy only affected women’s lives. Men too suffer from constant pressure to provide for their families and make a comfortable living. They too are sick of trying to be manly all the time. Handling the pressure at work, family life crisis, and financial crisis. Their mental health takes a toll as well. Many men have left their passions just to be there for their families. Because in patriarchy, we all suffer. Some just suffer more than others.
How To Deal With Toxic Masculinity –
1. Being More Open With Other Men
Justin Baldoni (a well-known actor) in a recent Ted Talk: I’m Done Trying To Be Man Enough’ expressed how it took him 3 days to open up to discuss issues and vulnerabilities he is facing in life. Following all the guys gang started to unfold their issues in life. Why do men take years and decades just to express their hardships around their best friends? The answer lies in decades of conditioning.
2. By Standing Up Against The Wrongdoing
An individual needs to be human enough to stand up against the keen. When they hear stories of sexual harassment and locker room talk. If your friends or parents are being homophobic, then educate them and stand up.
3. Support and Educate Today’s Generation
Young children copy and learn everything from observation. The responsibility falls upon adults to set benchmarks with their own behaviors. By educating the younger generation. It’s okay for men to have long hair and for women to have short hair. Irrespective of gender, using physical violence is not the ideal way to retaliate. Even in schools, conditioning should focus on the individuality of every human being.
In Conclusion –
Just like LGBTQA and Feminism, Healthy Masculinity in traditional society is a revolution. The minute men start to accept the fragile, sensitive, and feminine part of themselves, Society will follow their lead. Every revolution occurs when people start to rebel or take a stand against something that has been going on for years. It’s time to break the wheel and open the doors for healing. This whole process tastes the fruit of success only when all genders work for one another and become a pillar of strength. Let’s not just sit and accept toxic behaviors but rather take action and raise our voices.