Now, I am by no means an expert. I haven’t even been a feminist, nevermind an inter sectional feminist, for that long. About four years, almost five. Everyday is a learning curve, and that’s ultimately what I want people’s takeaway to be from this, especially if you are a man.
You have a lot of people saying toxic masculinity isn’t a thing, that toxic people come in all genders (obviously), that you can’t blame society for what goes wrong in a persons’ life. So, instead of repeating myself over and over, I want to write this. A very basic and simplified version of what toxic masculinity is.
Also, to note: you do actually have to take in what I’m saying, really take it in, instead of hearing the word “man” in masculinity and already preparing your thick skin for battle and thinking of why what I’m saying can’t be true. It’s fine to disagree with it, but just listen instead of automatically going right to attack. That’s all I ask. This is not an attack on your manhood.
Toxic masculinity is not a trait. It’s a collection of behaviors that a man can have. They may have one or two, they might have every single one, it depends on the person. Men do not have these behaviors built in to their genetic code. Men can make a choice on who they want to be, and a lot of men choose the toxic path. Toxic masculinity is NOT, I repeat NOT, a ‘natural’ masculinity behavior. Men are not naturally a mix of these behaviors. I will get onto why they turn out like this and why it’s so common to have these behaviors that it has it’s own title now in just a second.
- Sense of entitlement, especially over other people
- Verbal and physical violence
- Sexual objectification of women
- Emotional detachment
- Overly sexual inappropriately
A good example of who this is can be the president of the US, but in this case I’m going to use Gaston. Now, toxic masculinity is completely normalized in society. Generally, it’s not common a man experiencing toxic masculinity will have every single trait (except the president, ssh). Gaston is an extreme version. He might as well have a giant neon sign shining above his head saying “bad guy” except…why was he a bad guy?
Well, I know and some of you know it’s because he’s toxic. Was that ever specified or called out in the movie though? No. People like Gaston are completely normalized in society and their behaviors are never called out and rarely punished. The entire town, without much convincing, believes Gaston over Belle that Maurice and Belle are “crazy” and that the Beast should be killed. All it takes is a couple of sentences because not only is his toxic masculinity not being called out, it is being praised, respected and admired.
Toxic masculinity hurts both men and women.
I’m going to use media as one example. I know it’s a common opinion that people think media has no influence but it does. If you look at two people raised in exactly the same way, one with media and one with different types of media, you will see a difference. Just because media is influential doesn’t mean it always has bad influences. In this case, yes, it’s a bad influence.
Take old movies. The men are stalking girls they like because it’s “romantic”. They are STALKING WOMEN and being LABELLED ROMANTIC instead of going to JAIL. You see men forcing kisses onto women who clearly don’t want to be kissed and, again, this harassment is seen as romantic and is not called out for being harmful.
Men are not allowed to show their emotion. This isn’t just from the media. This is also from parents, family members and friends who try everything they can to repress the emotions of men. All this results in is men appearing to have little empathy, and increasing their chances of becoming depressed with suicidal thoughts or tenancies. They won’t open up to anyone because they have been told not to. Some even go to the length of putting women down for showing emotion because it’s been that enforced into their heads that emotion is bad, it’s all bad.
Violence is encouraged in young children. “Boys will be boys” is a common phrase that everyone has heard of whereas girls can get away with very little and violence shown on their part is put down as being “unladylike”. In a perfect world, violence of any kind would be struck down early and in all genders it would be wrong but that’s not the current society we live in. Boys are not naturally violent, but as children they are encourage to be boisterous and play with toy guns, swords and other toy weapons. Seems harmless?
Well, when that boy turns into a teenager, women are told that when boys are abusive towards them, this is because they “like you”. Women are told from early on that when men are violent and aggressive, this is normal. No it’s not. Men/boys are encouraged for this behavior and, in society, rapists can go to jail for as short as three months because they have “a bright future”. So not only is toxic masculinity not punished and normalized, it’s encouraged.
To wrap this up
Toxic masculinity is a collection of traditionally “manly” behaviors that are in fact not normal but are displayed as good and acceptable behaviors in society as they are excused of them just “being a man/boy”. A lot of men do not share the behaviors of toxic masculinity, as toxic masculinity and masculinity are not the same thing. It’s a very dangerous collection of behaviors found in men, that I believe Gaston is the perfect example for as when he decides something he “owns” has it’s own decisions, he convinced himself that Belle couldn’t have her own decisions, and this enrages him so much that he convinces the town to lock Belle up and kill the Beast. It takes a village to raise someone, and they all enforce toxic masculinity.
I will be touching on this a lot more in the future as it really is such a wide subject with a lot of branches and as each piece comes together, it’ll all result in a collection of…articles, I suppose, that’ll all be in a lot more detail and will have a lot more information. Toxic masculinity is extremely dangerous and I believe it should not be continued to be ignored the way it is, especially on the basis of men having their feelings hurt due to not understanding the difference between toxic masculinity and masculinity itself (which is an example all on it’s own, how some men will react in a verbally violent way to having their feelings hurt rather than expressing what the problem is as they have not been taught to express their feelings in a healthy, non-harmful way).
Until next time, Lorna
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