What is Toxic Masculinity?
Toxic masculinity is a term for some of the harmful associations of “maleness” in our culture. It doesn’t mean that masculinity is bad or that it is bad to be a man. It does mean, however, that some traits associated with masculinity in our culture are harmful or toxic for both men and women’s mental, physical, emotional, and relationship health.
We can all think of examples of toxic masculinity: the idea that it’s “unmanly” or “weak” to express one’s feelings or to cry; the idea that men should judge their own value on how many women they have sex with; or the idea that men should get into fights with one another to express their dominance, for example. - Reina G.
Listed are 4 ways on how men can somehow address toxic masculinity.
1. Educating Yourself About it
Learning about what toxic masculinity and how the culture reinforces it. Be open to what you’re reading and learning and remember that while it may make you feel bad or defensive, the problem originates in our culture broadly—and you have the power to fix the problem.
2. Work on yourself.
Being self-critical is hard, but it’s worth it. As you learn about the negative effects of toxic masculinity, reflect on how these may have affected your own life. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a qualified therapist. And if you’ve ever committed intimate partner violence or sexual violence, it’s absolutely necessary to work with a therapist to prevent yourself from perpetrating again.
3. Be accountable
Mistakes are human. Taking accountability is the true measure of a person’s worth. If any of the women in your life say you have harmed them, take them seriously, listen openly, and apologize earnestly. Don’t give excuses. Don’t blame the person who has been harmed. Being genuinely accountable is not only the right thing to do, it’s the only way we can all move forward.
4. Create better communities.
Public conversations about the #MeToo movement have often focused on what we imagine men will lose by being held accountable for violent or sexist behavior. But what if we focused instead on what changing toxic masculinity would help us gain?
By giving up harmful notions of masculinity we stand to gain something deeply human and profound, far better than any superficial privilege: Increased intimacy, community, and healthier relationships with our love ones and ourselves.
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