Toxic Masculinity in Public
I went out with a man once who literally yelled across the room at another man for talking too loudly in an already noisy establishment. It quite frankly terrified me. I didn’t know what caused him to do so. Was he trying to impress me with his machismo or merely exerting his power and control over the room for his own benefit? Many men might struggle to make sense of their emotions. For centuries men and boys have been taught to bottle up their feelings inside, and they hide under a veil of ‘toxic masculinity’. This is a hot buzz word these days and it’s come to the forefront of society. This behavior wounds others around them, including partners, loved ones, friends and family members. If you are a man looking to curb your toxic behavior, or a concerned friend/girlfriend trying to help, keep reading to learn some ways to understand some of the reasons behind the behavior and methods to improve it.
This article features a deeper look at 5 ways to discourage toxic masculinity behaviors and allow a man to become more emotionally grounded and open up.
Masculinity becomes toxic when specific standards of behavior are encouraged and enforced despite being damaging. Dominance, violence, unchecked sexual aggression, self-reliance to the point of absurdity and the devaluation of anything seen as being “feminine” are all points where masculinity goes from being positive to toxic. It’s the mandating of the limited scope of what men are allowed to be, if they’re to be considered “real men”.
– Resource Paging Dr. Nerdlove
Understanding the root of toxic masculinity.
As mentioned earlier, some males might actually struggle to come to terms with their emotions. Instead of talking about how they feel, they might put a shell on the surface, and resort to activities like fighting, bullying, or drinking heavily.
Before you try to eradicate toxic behavior, it is important to understand the root of it. What causes a man to be overly masculine in a negative way?
There are many possible causes. Some men might have been abused as children, or they might have experienced tough family situations.
This might lead them to showcase a hardened shield and hide their feelings. On the other hand, some men might suffer from toxic masculinity because they are actually insecure about their sexuality, and they might be trying to suppress some of their urges and instincts.
This behavior is often subconscious. Most men don’t know why they act the way they did. Honesty, and in some cases, psychological therapy, can help them understand the root of their behavioral problems.
Open up about feelings.
Since a lot of negative behavior in men comes from an inability to express deeper feelings, it is important to open up. Whether to close friends or to a professional counselor or doctor. If you are a man, be brave. Don’t be afraid of what people might think of you. Thousands of other people are in the same position.
Being vulnerable about your true feelings is ironically the bravest, most ballsy thing you can possibly do. And if the “bros” don’t get it, it’s not your problem!
If you are trying to help out a man, make sure you offer them a “safe” and judgment-free environment, where they know they can express themselves.
According to the American Psychological Association, men are less likely than women to seek help regarding their mental health, which may likely be due to ideals of masculinity.
This ideal of a “tough man” who doesn’t struggle with any emotions can force men to withstand untreated mental health problems. This might explain why 25 percent of women but only 15 percent of men take psychiatric medications, according to a Medco Health Solutions study.
Men are suffering in silence because toxic masculinity teaches them to be afraid of looking “weak.”
Fortunately modern culture and roles like James Gandolfino’s Tony Soprano is hopefully changing these stereotypes. But we still have a long way to go.
As masculinity educator Siavash Zohoori points out in the below video, toxic masculinity teaches that violence is the best way for men to prove their strength and power, and it discourages them from releasing their feelings in other ways.
Consider taking up an artistic activity.
Artistic expressions such as music, writing, photography, and painting can be absolutely excellent for men who struggle to come to terms with their feelings.
Instead of using their energy to fuel toxic masculinity, they might be able to express their frustration, stress, and anger in a different way through the outlet of art! The possibilities are truly endless.
Beware of negative role models.
Some toxic behavior happens because of bad role models and influences. Beware of the “pack mentality,” which makes men do a lot of stupid things!
Toxic Masculinity, Hypermasculinity and The Campus Rape Epidemic
In a disturbing coincidence, a study of college students at a southeastern university found that over half the athletes and more than a third of the non-athletes at one university had committed sexually coercive acts that met the legal definition of rape. Among the many acts that the students confessed to were:
- I insisted on sex when my partner did not want to (but did not use physical force)
- I used threats to make my partner have oral or anal sex
- I made my partner have sex without a condom (no force)
- I insisted my partner have oral or anal sex (but did not use physical force)
One significant finding was the correlation of the acceptance of rape myths; the more that a person believed that, say, if a woman who is raped was drunk, she was at least partially responsible, the more likely the individual was likely to use coercive tactics in trying to get her to give in and get some “action”.
– Resource The Good Men Project
Reduce drinking and other negative habits.
In some cases, alcohol might foster and fuel aggressive behavior. Consider reducing drinking and other undesirable substance habits to a minimum.
The Path To De-Toxifying Toxic Masculinity
With all this in mind, we’re forced to ask just how we can start fixing men and repairing the damage done by toxic masculine ideals. And the answer is to speak up. The answer is to push back. The answer is to take responsibility. The answer is education.
Our attitudes towards sex, towards consent and towards rape are defined by mistaken ideas and misaimed education. The popular idea of a rapist is still the “stranger from the bushes” rather than someone the victim knows, The image we have of rape is that rape looks like a fight or a struggle. We still believe that rape victims are almost exclusively women, that it has to be reported to be “valid” (7 in 10 rape victims never come forward to the police) or that a rape victim is in some or any way responsible for her own victimization.
We still allow the myth of “gray rape” to define coerced sex or rapes that don’t line up with the popular stereotype and exaggerate the dangers of falsified charges of rape, diminishing the impact it has on the victims and survivors and adding yet another layer of doubt that discourages victims from coming forward.
Similarly, men need to be given the responsibility of reclaiming manhood from those who see sexual assault as no big deal.
As has been pointed out many times over, women are taught that the responsibility is on them to avoid getting raped (often with tactics where the implied message is to seem less vulnerable so the rapist will target someone else).
Men are almost never taught to not rape; it’s assumed by other men that we’re going to. Even in the current bullshit laws against transgender rights, the dominant narrative is that all men are latent sexual predators who will go to absurd lengths to attack women if given half a chance.
We need actual lessons that differentiate a lack of consent, coerced consent and teaching a standard of enthusiastic consent. That consent can be withdrawn at any time, what healthy sexual relationships look like and that nothing obligates a person to have sex with someone else.
We need to teach that manhood isn’t tied to sex, that men can be victims of sexual assault and abuse and not view them as being weak for not fighting harder or “lucky” for having been raped by a woman. We need to not dismiss or deflect responsibility for rape onto external factors – not binge drinking, not “hookup culture”, not sexual promiscuity.
We need more men to step up and be counted.
We need more men to call out others for their shitty behavior, to refuse to let sexual assault be “get some action”, to intervene when we see harassment or assaults going down regardless of the gender of the victim.
And we need to develop some empathy. To quit wringing our hands about the fate of the poor, poor rapists and concern ourselves more with the ones who’ve been raped. And to that end, I want to cap this with a link to the powerful, heartbreaking statement that Brock Turner’s victim read to him in court.
We can be better. We need to be better.
This article originally appeared on Dr. NerdLove
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