Perils of Toxic Masculinity in Men!

Men are supposed to behave in a certain way since the ancient ages. They are perceived to be strong, emotionally invulnerable and aggressive resulting in a stereotypical notion of them being devoid of any weakness or emotions. Phrases like ‘men don’t cry’ and ‘are you Man enough’ are often thrown up at men ridiculing any signs of vulnerability which they may show. “Toxic Masculinity” in men are certain inherently manifested attitudes and mannerisms associated with them that display dominance over the other gender, anti-femininity, homophobia, emotional vulnerability any many other questionable traits.

Tough projection of men in society’s expectations has the ability to bring stress, anxiety amongst other issues in men. In a classroom, some boys are tough and some may not be that tough. Less tougher boys are often bullied, and prejudiced, injecting a notion in their minds that they are ‘lesser men’ as compared to others. While there’s nothing wrong in being Masculine, it is the traits of toxic masculinity which are toxic for men and equally toxic for anyone associated with them. Toxic Masculinity may trigger violence against women, considering them an inferior gender and inevitably always trying to dominate them . 

Origins of the term ‘Toxic Masculinity’  

Earliest usage of the term ‘toxic masculinity’ can be traced back to the Mythopoetics men movement of the 1980’s- A movement of men aimed at Men’s healing through workshops and wilderness retreat. The movement delved into emotional aspects of men’s life, dichotomising ‘mature masculinism’ from ‘toxic masculinism’. The movement as an advocacy for men further emphasized on accusation by feminists as men being ‘sexist’ thereby causing emotional damage to men. Later, the term ‘toxic masculinity’ was used by feminists scholars to critique sexist norms of manhood.  

Inherent stereotypical notions of being a ‘Man’ 

In almost all patriarchal societies, man is seen as someone resistant to pain and emotions.This burden which has been carried for too long, has had deep psychological effects in man’s behavior towards others. Blatant display of chauvinism and misogynist behavior stems from toxic masculinity which men have been bred to adhere to. Society often criticizes men for being  too soft, leading to a feeling of submissiveness among them. In retaliation, they tend to show behavioral traits which are expected out of them and not what they actually are. Toxic masculinity is perceived to be harmful to others, but in general men are the first victims, facing consequences with blatant displays of toxicity.  

Glorification of destructive habits 

Toxic masculinity glorifies habits which have an impact on men’s physical and mental state. Men often don’t take injuries seriously and are demotivated from taking any preventive care, thinking that “self care is for women” and overusing their bodies for physical work. Other unhealthy habits such as over drinking, rash driving are constituents of toxic masculinity. Mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, mental health issues are seen as weakness and men would desist talking about such problems- scared of being considered weak. They are prone to avoid help in most vulnerable times which inevitably hampers their inward and outward growth. 

Symptoms that shows signs of ‘toxic masculinity’

Many situations or certain behaviors can be attributed as being a part of toxic masculinity. A man’s rash and unchecked behavior with females, considering homosexuals or transgenders as sick, negligent self care, less empathy for one’s own emotions, frequent violent and rash behavior against others and rigidity in accepting others are some of the earliest visible traits of toxic masculinity. The peril often disguises itself and everything done is not consciously interpreted. It is justified as society has itself carved the rules of how a man should behave.

Delegitimising ’ toxic masculinity’ 

No discourse can be set without throwing a light on this issue. Men are often unaware of their behavior. Men need not be limited in showing emotions. They can be vulnerable too in a relationship. Suppressing their feelings for too long can have a catastrophic effect on their mental health. Men can face their fears by being vocal about them and taking help if the situation requires so. They can be courageous by acknowledging their fears and taking care of their inner self. The first step towards transformation is acknowledging the problem. It’s okay to cry, and not feel ashamed. As men we should not follow particular societal notions of Manhood and do what is right for full development of our emotional needs as an individual.

Shitij Rao
Shitij Rao

New age journalist trained at Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Delhi, who specialises in Print, Television and Digital Journalism . Lifestyle, Politics and legal beat are my forte ! Passionate about print journalism.

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