Let’s Address These Toxic Masculinity Behaviors For Future’s Sake
by Maria Romero, May 22, 2019 3:15pm
Art by Dani Elevazo
If you’re scrolling through social media on a daily basis, you’ve probably encountered the term “toxic masculinity” way too many times as it was put in a cross-industry spotlight in light of the #MeTooMovement. In fact, this may have contributed as to why “toxic” became 2018’s word of the year. Toxic masculinity is defined as the act of aggression, violence, and the need to dominate others, which, unfortunately, has been considered as men’s natural behavior or desirable attitude towards every situation—it isn’t okay. Over the years, this has become a catchall phrase for male sexism and violence.
As reported by the Independent, toxic masculinity was first used by psychologist Shepherd Bliss in the ‘80s to described some men’s toxic behaviour towards masculinity such as “avoidance of emotional expression, the over-aspiration for physical, sexual and intellectual dominance, and the systematic devaluation of women’s opinions, body and sense of self.”
Since toxic masculinity is such a complicated and heavy point of discussion that needs careful contextualization, our usual impulse toward it is to simply avoid discussing it. But thankfully, the bigger table for discussion re-opened earlier this year when international personal care brand Gillette released an advertisement which challenged toxic masculinity. The video encourages men to abandon the “boys will be boys” mentality. It challenges them to smash the patriarchy—dominant cultural, political, and social system that values masculinity over femininity.
Patriarchy perpetuates economic and political subordination of women, oppressive gender roles, and sexual assault. Although women are most affected by the repercussions that come with this system, it can also hurt men because not all of them are inherently toxic.
We may have men in our lives who we don’t know maybe perpetrating toxic masculinity behaviors. We don’t know it because we either lack education or we turn a blind eye on—it’s deeply ingrained into our culture to the point of normalcy. But it’s about time to address behaviors that only complement the already dominant patriarchs.
Bragging about the number of people they’ve slept with
Human bodies are designed for sex. Naturally, people would do it. But it seems like men always feel the need to boast about the number of people they’ve slept with. Are they really having fun with that or are they only masquerading their lives with their macho facade? It’s okay to be open about one’s sex life because that’s how we can start a healthy discussion about sex education. Just don’t treat the number of people you’ve slept with as social status or a bragging right. People aren’t trophies.
Cheating on a romantic partner is normal for men
“Men are more likely to commit infidelity than women because men have a stronger desire to have sex”—this automatically plays like a broken record when in defense of cheating. On most cases, men justify cheating as something that should be taken lightly because they believe men aren’t made to stick to only one woman or that they cheated on accident. This mentality is straight-up naive.
In cases when the woman cheats, why does it appear to be more pressing than when a man does it? Toxic masculinity has created a void with these men they think only cheating can fill.
Justifying the ‘Boys will be boys’ and ‘Maria Clara’ mentality
When something terrible happens that involves males’ damaging behaviors, boys get away from it with their usual “Boys will be boys” argument—that’s unfair. It’s an expression boys blatantly say to cover their nasty behaviors especially in the context of violence. Let’s change it to “boys will be accountable.”
If boys will continue to be boys, the girls will continue to be assaulted. And it does not help that we traditionally have the “Maria Clara mentality,” where women are expected to be inferior and submissive. Boys will continue to misbehave, all while expecting girls to act like Maria Clara in the 21st century.
Toxic masculinity, along with the “boys will be boys” and “Maria Clara” mentality, is what happens when boys are taught that they can’t express emotions openly; that they have to be “tough all the time” because anything other than that makes them “feminine” or weak.
These are some of the normalized toxic masculinity behaviors. Both men and women should make special efforts to educate themselves about these misbehaviors so we could know better and be better. We are far from living in a society that doesn’t have to tolerate toxic masculinity; with our collective efforts, we may soon get rid of this unhealthy behavior, starting with educating ourselves and those people around us and making sure to respect people regardless of gender preference. It’s 2019 and it’s high time we all work together to smash the patriarchy.