Is it how we conduct ourselves in the presence of women and children, or how we go above and beyond to support and protect our family?
Is it determined by our physical strengths and toughness? Or how much respect we get from our peers?
What is toxic masculinity?
Over the years I started seeing the term “Toxic Masculinity” float around but I didn’t think much of it. I knew it was a negative connotation so maybe that’s why I distanced myself from it. I actually thought it was a derogatory term by feminists against men for no reason other than being born as a man. However, I couldn’t be further from the truth.
Toxic Masculinity is a defined set of attributes, behaviour and roles associated with boys and men. In essence, it’s a profile of males who judge anyone as weak if they don’t abide by their image. They have a culture, albeit a dying one, of living with a “men don’t cry” motto. If you show signs of weakness through emotion then you lose your identity of what it means to be a “real man”. I find the whole concept very damaging and divisive. I don’t need any factual evidence to prove this has a detrimental effect on men’s mental health.
Alpha male is another term I read quite often about nowadays. I place it as a sub-category under the toxic masculinity umbrella. It’s men who have power, money and influence which they gained through mostly intimidation. Alpha men tend to prowess a combination of characteristics that propels them up the social hierarchy. However, I don’t view their values to be any better than mine or men they perceive to be below them. I don’t need to be labelled as any specific type of man – I’m me and that’s enough. You’re not better than me just because of the size of your wallet or how you might have more success in attracting females than I do.
Dealing with insecurities
These types of men maintain a fake image due to their insecurities. The fear of being judged by so-called better men. A competitive internal battle that destroys a man’s soul without him ever admitting his struggles because he refuses to ask for help.
Insecurities can lead to aggressive behaviour such as domestic abuse. It’s dangerous how many men are bottling up their emotions and yet could explode at any moment. True masculinity is leadership, strength, courage and ambition. All vital attributes that can take any man as far as he wants in life if he chooses to use them wisely.
What does it mean to be a man?
Men who prowess these skills think about themselves and the people who matter the most to them such as family. He focuses on his dreams rather than pleasing others.
He doesn’t care about negativity and isn’t afraid to show signs of frailty.
He combines moments of doubt and sadness into positive outcomes through rational decisions and learns from experience.
Eradicating toxic masculinity probably won’t ever happen, however we can limit the damage it causes to vulnerable men and boys. It starts with the education system. Young boys need to learn that it’s okay to feel different to others. No question should be left unanswered and boys should be encouraged to express their emotions without being labelled as weak.
The second is to confront potential harmful behaviour. For example, some guys need to be spoken to regarding their misogynist bullying towards women. We can’t continue to remain silent and let insults slide under the carpet. Intervention is key to any progressive society.
The third, although not the final as there are many avenues, is being the best role model to yourself. All actions have consequences, but they can also be used for a greater cause. Be a man who is known in his local community as someone who respects, love and inspires everyone around him. Be an example for young boys to look up to.
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