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Toxic Masculinity

Sujata Gandhi, Online Editor

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In light of the #MeToo movement, toxic masculinity has become a buzzword in society. Toxic masculinity, which is something that feminism advocates against, is when men feel pressured to be “masculine” to the point where it strongly impacts them. A negative stereotype is that men have to be “traditionally” masculine.

 

The qualities associated with traditional hegemonic masculinity are stoticality (expressing emotions as little as possible), aggressiveness, strength, athleticism, being able to provide financially, and little empathy. Traditional hegemonic masculinity also defines what men can and cannot be interested in (e.g. football instead of fashion). This sets unrealistic standards for many men.

 

The pressure to live up to certain standards and conform to a norm can have detrimental effects on the mental health of men. “Men who endorse dominant ideals of masculinity are more likely than other men to have greater health risks and engage in poor behaviours. They are more likely to consider suicide, drink excessively, take risks at work and drive dangerously,” stated Michael Flood in medicalxpress.com.  More specifically, some mental illnesses are a result of this pressure on men. “I can see where men, in general, would feel like they can’t live up to certain standards… I think depression and anxiety would be [caused by toxic masculinity],” Stevie Claxton, school counselor, said.

 

In addition to harming one’s mental health, toxic masculinity can create a culture where some men feel the need to demonstrate aggressiveness and stoticity. This can result in others being bullied.

 

Some students recognize this problem existing at Skyline. “They will sometimes name-call people however they see fit,” an anonymous junior explained while discussing how toxic masculinity manifests itself. When asked if he thinks toxic masculinity at Skyline is beginning to be reduced, he said,  “It’s gotten to a point where teachers have tried, and teachers have failed. I don’t know how that helps for those people and the people that [they] target. Because it takes only one straw to break the camel’s back.” He also stated that he believes that it is getting better in society overall, however.

 

Toxic masculinity is beginning to lessen in society, but it still exists in some areas. “We live in a very agricultural area where we typically tell our boys to rub dirt on it, buck up, and be a man. I think it is big in this culture just because it’s a farming community,” Claxton said.

 

Although some notice this problem persisting at Skyline, others notice it getting better.

 

“Painting nails is usually associated with women, but it’s been becoming a trend in men and even my nephew will ask to get his nails painted when he sees me painting mine,” Mya Monson (10) said.

 

Although whether or not toxic masculinity is still persistent or is being reduced in society, it is dependent upon the area and an individual’s perspective. Regardless, there are things that can be done to reduce toxic masculinity. “There’s a lot of things society can do, in general, improve equality…  Recognition, education, and awareness is where it all starts,” Claxton explained.

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Toxic Masculinity