You Can Be Masculine Without Being Toxic

todayApril 28, 2017 274

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By Alexandra Cochran
Blog Content Contributor

When we look into the terrors and inappropriate behaviors within the culture of men, it’s often populated by negativity: men are more violent than women, there are more recorded suicides from men, and there is always a constant attempt to prove their masculinity within society.

Toxic masculinity exists within our society because our culture is still strongly gender-polarized; it has just recently allowed women and men share and exchange roles. Society still holds onto constructed roles that consider what’s appropriate for men and women. These differences are completely exaggerated when it comes to comparison: men have more hair and muscles than women, even when we know this is only true because women remove their hair from their faces, legs, and armpits. There are other examples, like when men engage in exercises to socially compete to be the best looking and desirable for women and keep other men envious. From an article on Quantum Leap Fitness: “We actually do it for everyone else. They may not know their girl’s favorite flower, but do know that girls like big biceps and maybe most important, they know that nothing gets the ego going like another man platonically envying your physique.” Why does this mentality even exist?

toxic masc lgbt
If men do not adhere to societal standards of masculinity, they are instantly rejected. Photo courtesy of Alexandra Cochran.

Just how women can truthfully be non-accepting of others, male envy exists and it’s part of the reason why men are tough on each other and tend to lack healthy emotional feelings. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a psychology minor, which means I take many upper division psychology courses that require a lot of experiential relations. Recently, our lecture engaged in a conversation of how television violence and sports is connected to real world aggression and toxic masculinity within society. These video games assist in real world stigmas: being macho enough to shoot a gun, sexualizing, objectifying, and victimizing women. Instead of being punished, players are often rewarded.  Since violent video games and the depiction of men is hyper-masculine, dominant, and aggressive, why haven’t we changed the way we raise boys?

Society has a powerful influence on how a person develops; if a person identifies as male, they will most likely grow up to develop specific mannerisms and behaviors of masculinity and are instantly rejected from our culture if they don’t fit within this stigmatic and socially approved prototype. The objectification, assigned social roles, and imaginary beauty standards of women in society do have an impact on how men visualize women in different cultures. All I’m trying to articulate through this article is that it’s okay to be masculine and it’s okay for men to be feminine but it’s not an excuse to be rude, homophobic, and sexist.

The saying “boys will be boys” is not a proper excuse for poor behavior and we’re sick of hearing it. It’s critical to understand that traditional male attributes can affect men’s mental health and prolong the toxic masculinity culture that only continues this unhealthy cycle of too much pride and dehumanizing anybody who appears as having different attributes and characteristics.

Featured image courtesy of Alexandra Cochran.

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