A term or phrase that I have been hearing a lot lately is “toxic masculinity.”
Whether I’m just surfing the internet or having casual conversation, this term has intrigued me and led me to dive deeper into what it means and how it has affected society.
The idea of manliness in our society focuses on the individualistic ideals and traits that America emphasizes so much.
These social norms are hammered into men from birth, and this has manifested into something that can rightfully be defined as toxic for the human race.
Toxic masculinity limits what being a man actually is.
It places extreme emphasis on having a high status, heightened aggression, repressing emotions and attaining sexual glory. These traits have become normalized in our society and have been perpetuated in mainstream media for
Even some of America’s classic movies have shown things of this nature.
The “Back to the Future” trilogy’s character Biff Tannen, who is an obviously repugnant antagonist, serves as a prime example.
What is more surprising is that even some of the good guys in these movies exhibit a few toxic tendencies as well.
In the movie “Goldfinger,” James Bond is shown objectifying women at times, dismissing them from conversations or forcing himself onto them.
But this phenomenon does not stop on screen.
Many predators have been exposed and face public ridicule and justice, thanks in large part to the #MeToo Movement, which is a large movement against sexual harassment and abuse.
Some of the most recent cases that have come to light are artist R. Kelly, former film producer Harvey Weinstein and comedian Louis C.K. It is not just Hollywood. Every aspect of our society is being perused for signs of offenders, which is a very good thing.
Next, it is apparent that some of these toxic tendencies of men have stunted their growth into manhood, both mentally and emotionally.
A lot of things that are considered feminine in our society are just natural things that humans are supposed to do. A big one is showing emotion. It is considered feminine or called gay at times if men show certain emotions, and that is just not correct.
If men were not supposed to show emotion of any kind, then we would just be robots with skin and bones. We as men have to do a better job of getting rid of the stigma that men have to be stoic all the time.
On the other hand, much good is coming out of these people being brought to justice. As a society, we have to be careful in defining what it means to be masculine.
We have to be careful in discerning what constitutes a male being a man. Masculine traits are learned from our cultural norms, but a lot of natural traits that men exhibit are actually rooted in our biology.
Of course, everyone is different, and men will display their masculinity
differently. But a lot of things that men do are to complement the femininity of women, and vice versa.
Masculinity at its essence is initiation, while femininity at its essence is response.
Men have the trait of authority, while women have the trait of power. The two traits are different, but equally important.
Women have the ability to sustain life, while men have the ability to command authority. Men and women both have valuable roles in our society and should all be treated with respect.
Men have messed up in the way they have used their authority for selfish and even evil actions.
So how can we all improve and grow stronger from this as a society? Well, we have to realize that no matter if someone is a man or a woman, we are all equal and should be treated as such.
Furthermore, men have to do a better job of looking inward and make corrections to their attitudes or actions toward women if it is considered toxic behavior.
This is all easier said than done, but I have faith in humanity that we can achieve this.
Opinion by Marq Williams, Vanguard Reporter