Last year, I wrote a post on toxic masculinity. I discussed some phrases that are toxic and harmful to the male gender. I titled that post “Be A Man” click HERE to read.
This year, I got one of my very good friends, Samuel, and probably one of the most active fan of this platform (lol) to write on toxic masculinity from a guy’s perspective.
Here are his thoughts on the topic.
TOXIC MASCULINITY AND THE NEED TO “MAN UP”
Note: this article does not primarily seek to teach, but to ignite a thoughtful awakening and consciousness.
“Why you dey behave like woman?”
I can barely point a handful of guys I know that don’t dread this statement.
As a guy, no matter the circumstance, you never want to hear a statement like this. So where does that lead you? It leads you into acts and mannerisms you think would make it hard to associate you with this kind of statement.
“Hard guy, hard guy”
That brings us to the topic: Toxic Masculinity
There is one word that I personally believe totally encapsulates toxic masculinity – WEAKNESS.
No man wants to appear “weak”
You know, sometimes I look at women and envy how they can show their emotions without societal judgment…. How lucky they are, I imagine.
On my part, I know I’d be damned if I dare show the slightest sign of being emotional when I’m expected to be “strong” and show that I’m actually a man.
Ironically, in many cases, it could be easier to feign strength than to show your emotions.
This life no just balance.
Toxic masculinity is the societal pressure on men to behave in a certain type of way to avoid being perceived as weak. Dictionary.com defines it as a cultural concept of manliness that glorifies stoicism, strength, virility, and dominance, and that is socially maladaptive or harmful to mental health
Toxic Masculinity does not refer to behaving like a man, it is the harmful habits that men are cultured to adopt.
How it is perceived among men
A friend once shared a quote with me, it read “I’m scared to go to therapy because what if I heal and lose my swag?”
To be honest, I could actually relate.
There’s the constant urge to behave in a way that exerts my manliness, or perceived manliness when deep down, I probably want to do something different.
But risk losing my swag?
This means that we’d rather look cool and manly on the outside than pay attention to our mental health.
In several male circles, the topic of mental health rarely comes up.
Thankfully, wokeness is beginning to challenge a lot of these beliefs, as more and more men are becoming more open about their mental health.
And it’s actually those kinds of conversations that led to my friend sharing that quote with me, and both of us discussing and concluding that being honest with ourselves about why we behaved in certain ways was a step in the right direction.
Don’t you agree?
I definitely do.
How it is perceived among women
The need to exhibit these behaviors or toxic traits almost always has a link to trying to impress girls… well, and your guys too sometimes.
For real, there’s this inherent notion that you have to behave like a “real” man to get the girls. And if we’re being honest, it actually works.
If you present a “good” (non-toxic in this instance) guy, and a more “masculine” guy, with the bad boy aura at a party, no prizes for guessing who’s more likely to get the attention of the girls.
Toxic men could (maybe actually are) be fun to be with.
I’m sure I don’t need to explain that I’m not being sarcastic.
The constant games supposedly keeps girls on their toes. It is said that the inconsistent good times and back and forth behavior ironically translates to the brain releasing dopamine more often, which could be enthralling.
And then you’ve probably heard of the phrase “Good girls love bad guys!”
There is also the law of opposite attracts and then what is termed the “Florence nightingale syndrome” where girls (in this instance) get attracted to someone they believe they could heal with their love and they usually spend all their time in the relationship trying to “fix” them.
And let’s not forget the sex issue
Since this article is meant to focus on men, I won’t go into further details, especially as I can imagine you already get my drift.
And, if you don’t… that means you’re safe 😉
But I’ll leave this meme here:
The role Religion and Society plays
Oftentimes, it is easy to justify the exhibition of these traits with religion as most religions emphasize the need for men to dominate, be the head, control and provide. And then there is the constant reference to women as “the weaker vessel”, inherently asserting that to be weak is not of a man.
Like I said earlier, societal perception can be very important for a man’s ego. When exhibiting and expressing emotions can make people call you “woman” or “woman wrapper”, toxic masculinity is encouraged.
In older times, it really was a man’s world as it was a battle of survival of the fittest. The strong ruled the weak; the men fought wars, fended for their families and sometimes got compensated with women as a reward for their valor.
Times have changed (are changing) and it might be easy to forget that most of these “rules” were written by men who were of course traditional by nature, in a society (in the past) where topics like this weren’t up for discussion.
Thankfully, we now live in a society where physical strength does not necessarily make you the “fittest”. Your level of education, experience, wits, guarantee you a better chance of survival than physical strength and these attributes are not gender specific.
No man is born toxic!
It is the environment and patriarchal society that socializes us into exhibiting these toxic traits.
The good news is we don’t have to be subject to these traits. The society does not have to dictate to us how we act or whether or not we show our emotions as men. We can start doing better.
Doing better, by having these conversations in our male circles. By prioritizing our mental health. And by purposefully doing away with the notion that our masculinity depends on exhibiting toxic traits.
And there you have it, Samuel Davies’ thought on toxic masculinity. I have always said that deconstructing toxic masculinity has to start with conversations that are led by men themselves. I am hoping these posts serve as conversation starters. You can be masculine without being toxic.