Where does Masculinity become Toxic?
Toxic masculinity refers to the notion that some people’s idea of “manliness” perpetuates domination, homophobia, and aggression toward others. This involves cultural pressures for men to behave a certain way.
This isn’t about behaving like a man; this is about pressures to behave in a way which are unhealthy and harmful.
Masculinity becomes toxic when it is harmful to one’s mental health or harms people around them. For example, intimate partner violence and bullying.
Toxic masculinity also discourages men from getting mental health treatment or help.
Toxic masculinity stems from the outdated expectation of what it takes to ‘be a man’, which leaves men feeling lost and confused about how they should act.
Invisible social standards or expectations that we follow to fit in and feel like we belong in each setting.
Domination: the notion that men should be emotionally callous and behave unconditionally aggressively.
Anti-femineity: involves the idea that men should reject anything that is considered feminine.
Power: obtain power, fear, or status over or from others which they regard as respect.
Men who view themselves as more masculine or conform to toxic masculinity are less likely to engage in helping behaviours: they are not likely to intervene when they witness bullying, or someone assaulted.
Toxic masculinity prevents men from consoling a victim, calling for help and standing up to the perpetrator. Men who endorsed the belief that men should be aggressive were more likely to perceive negative social consequences associated with intervening as an active bystander. In instances of sexual assault, men who identified with masculine behaviours were less likely to stop the assault as they perceived that their reputation may be compromised.
Standing up to Toxic Males
Modern and healthy masculinity can be encouraged by:
Engage in healthy and controlled competition – whether this is through sport, gaming, or other activities.
Respect others and address disrespect – knowing the implications toxic masculinity has for others' mental health, be an active bystander and call it out when it happens.
Listen to others and validate experiences – encourage others to express how they feel.
Express emotions – learn ways to express and communicate your emotions in a healthy controlled way.
Be accountable for previous behaviour – the first step to changing behaviour is recognising the problem and holding yourself accountable.
Positive Outcomes of Healthy Masculinity:
Creates a more balanced sense of identity and masculinity.
Men who can control and express their emotions will experience greater life satisfaction, increased self-esteem, and a decreased rate of mental health problems.
Increased ability to communicate effectively with others.
Develop empathy and have the ability to connect with others on a greater level.
Commitment to respecting women and other people
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Males who cannot express their emotions healthily are more likely to participate in bullying, physical assault, and verbally aggressive behaviour.
Those who conform to toxic masculinity discriminates against anyone who does not fall into the realm of heterosexuality.
Toxic masculine traits make it difficult for these males to communicate effectively or express themselves in an appropriate way to receive help.
Toxic masculinity is prevalent in the data which examines the rates of drug-related crime, anti-social behaviours, drug overdoses, violent crime, and domestic and sexual abuse. There is also a high correlation between toxic masculinity and lack of accountability in rehabilitation centres. The WHO reported in 2017 that an intimate male partner killed 37% of all murdered women.
Men tend to downplay the effects of sexual harassment and bias against women. This is because men, generally, do not experience sexual harassment or gender bias themselves due to being male.
Toxic males are less likely to look for and receive treatment for physical and mental health conditions as they view this as vulnerability. This marries in with the increased rate of suicide in males.