By Ally Bolender
News Content Manager
Toxic masculinity is the idea of adhering to traditional male gender roles that stigmatize and work to invalidate the -very much- valid emotions, passions and preferences of men and boys.
As a society, we’ve made great strides in recognizing women’s issues and collectively working to deconstruct the patriarchy. However, it seems that society has just recently reached the point of recognizing toxic masculinity and working to validate natural emotions and feelings among men; however, we still have a long way to go.
While women have grown up hearing, “you run like a girl,” there’s a parallel for men, often hearing, “crying is for girls.”
As a kid, I was provided a label for wanting to dress in boy clothes and do the stereotypical things boys my age did, such as playing rough sports or digging in the backyard. I was comfortable being a “tomboy.”
However, boys didn’t seem to have that same luxury when they wanted to steer from the stereotypical descriptions of what a boy should be interested in, often leading to confusion and potentially mental illness later in life.
Within the cycle of toxic masculinity, men are proportionally less likely to seek help for mental illnesses.
While women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression, the suicide rate among men is four times higher, according to the American Psychological Association.
In recent years, we’ve seen trends working to deconstruct the toxic idea of “a man should be manly,” much like how a woman isn’t required to be feminine.
We’ve seen prominent male figures such as Harry Styles and Young Thug wear dresses on magazine and album covers. Famous parents, such as Megan Fox, allow their sons to wear dresses in public. Even parents in the public eye are showing unconditional acceptance to their children of the LGBTQ community, such as Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union supporting their trans daughter.
Yet, there is still so much backlash, and for what? Men doing what they want because it isn’t traditional? Men embodying who they truly are?
When looking at history, the consensus is that male celebrities have the luxury of gaining acceptance for not following stereotypical male roles; just look at Prince, David Bowe, and even Nirvana. Perhaps society overlooks masculinity standards for the rich, talented and famous, all while denying that luxury for young boys across the nation.
While we’ve put on a good show of ending toxic masculinity, it’s time to end it in our homes, schools and communities. There is no better feeling than being your authentic self.
So, boys and men, paint your nails, wear a dress and listen to Taylor Swift if you choose to. When it comes down to it, you only get one life, and it’s your responsibility to live it with happiness.
Featured image by Ally Bolender.