What is toxic masculinity? We’ve all heard the term before. It is the way that men are expected to be hard and strong and unemotional, all of the time. It is the way in which men are expected to act in order to not be classified as ‘feminine’. It is all of these things, and it is an unfair weight that men are forced to bear on their shoulders.
As Maya Salam introduces in her New York Times piece, “What Is Toxic Masculinity?” there is a quote made by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that sticks out from the rest. “By far the worst thing we do to males- by making them feel they have to be hard- is that we leave them with very fragile egos” In most industries, including entertainment, this statement holds true.
Chimamanda is an award-winning Nigerian author, who has written significantly on the subject, with books that focus heavily on the roles of sexism and toxic masculinity. Her quote in the Times article really highlights her experience as a member in a society which strongly upholds the ideas so prescient in her books. Salam reinforces the idea that simple words that get thrown around on a daily basis, such as “macho” create the illusion that boys are the only strong figure in society and the normalization has led to young men repressing their emotions, and an inaccurate depiction of who is strong, smart and worthy.
Gender is not really an associative term, but has become a major identifier for many cultures due to taboos surrounding the treatment of different sexes. The misogynistic attitudes and behaviors we see in modern times comes from masculine ideologies enforced by creators. In the 21st century, the themes of toxic masculinity manifest as simple ads and commercials, rather than in television and movies where they dominated during the golden age of cinema.
These ads can be anything from sports drinks to razors, and even ‘manly’ dryer sheets. Individual men bring these ideas further to the next generations and there is a shaping of the toxic need to be dominant, in order to be truly masculine.
With the rise of toxic masculinity, feminism also takes place, which is sometimes misconstrued as misandry. The issue that needs to be confronted is the redefinition of equality in the workplace and overall. The article expresses how the backbone of the whole civil rights movement is made by women, but are overshadowed to be smaller characters when in reality they create the bigger picture. Modern role models for sexual potency often come from being aggressive and demanding, maybe from even being narrow-minded. Men subscribing to these philosophies need to understand the patterns in which their actions affect the people around them. Creators need to realize the way in which their content is affecting people by the millions.
Recently, Planned Parenthood was forced out of the government’s Title X program, which is what low income patients rely on for low-cost family planning. Could toxic masculinity possibly be a reason that this generation is drowning in blatantly sexist government regressions? The sexist attitudes carry on demographics of a framework for further differences to be stretched amongst men and women in any class of communities.
Another example of toxic masculinity comes from the “locker room talk”. The sexual misconduct behind closed doors poses a threat to both men and women in that everyone needs to learn how to accept that our generation needs to reach equilibrium, not to compete. The early socialization of the connections between masculine culture and perpetration are from the known factors of social rejection amongst peers, poor family functioning and lack of resources addressing the negative outcomes of inner thoughts made by growing kids.
In essence, we need to all help build our society with healthier and more positive messages. It all starts with acknowledging that toxic masculinity is a present day issue that needs to be acknowledged. Responsibility doesn’t come easily and we need to consider how masculinity in media will affect future generations beliefs.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment