So, this week in our attempt to make your life a little bit better, we’re talking about being toxic and we are specifically talking about men being toxic.
And to do that we first have to define what toxic masculinity is.
Maya Salem in a 2019 NYT article writes that it’s:
- Hiding your emotions, pretending you aren’t upset
- Making sure everyone thinks you’re hard. (not your muscles, but your brain/soul/emotions)
“In other words: Toxic masculinity is what can come of teaching boys that they can’t express emotion openly; that they have to be “tough all the time”; that anything other than that makes them “feminine” or weak. (No, it doesn’t mean that all men are inherently toxic.)”Salem
But toxic masculinity is more than that. It’s a set of beliefs that a lot of men believe about themselves and that a lot of women believe about them, too.
What are those damn, stupid beliefs. According to Dr. Axe, they are things like (all the italicized below is a direct quote, but the format in the notes is hitching:
- Manhood is defined by violence, sex, status and aggression.
- Men should not be interested in “feminine things” because this makes them appear weak
- Men shouldn’t display “feminine” traits such as emotional vulnerability.
- Men and women can never truly understand each other or just be friends, for reasons like men are always interested in sex.
- Real men are strong and don’t show emotional signs of shame or weakness.
- Anger and violence are useful ways of solving conflicts.
- Men are not suited to be single parents/the dominant parent in a family.
So, you might recognize some of those beliefs in yourselves or in others, rights? And it’s kind of a lot of bullshit.
You can be male; you can be a man and be nuanced. And there isn’t some dichotomy of man strong/woman weak. We’re not even going to begin to talk about how tough female sex organs and birthing organs are, right?
That is a rant for another time.
Moving on, masculinity theory has its origins in gender theories and has been expanded by the work of Raewyn Connell (Australian sociologist), Dr. Ronald Levant (researcher) and others who speak of the patriarchal dividend. And according to Dr. Axe, it’s about:
“A set of values, established by men in power, that functions to include and exclude, and to organize society in gender unequal ways. It combines several features: a hierarchy of masculinities, differential access among men to power (over women and other men) and the interplay between men’s identity, men’s ideals, interactions, power and patriarchy.”
So, what are those values? We talked about some of them, but those aren’t all. Let’s go at it from another angle.
Over on Tiny Buddha, Charles Razook writes:
“Toxic masculinity has bred men to be the life of the party. Drink hard. Smoke cigarettes. Do drugs. Be indomitable. This behavior always necessitates sleeping in to recover afterward and lower productivity.
“For women, on the other hand, there is more of an emphasis on looks, composure, and output. Essentially, on being perfect.
“This may sound misogynistic, backward, and antiquated, but unfortunately, these expectations still affect our society, though they are slowly changing. And the result is not very positive for men or women.”
How does this hold us all back? That’s kind of the question, right?
According to Scientific American,
“But this scramble for dominance and denial of emotion comes at great cost. It blunts men’s awareness of other people’s needs and emotions, drives domestic and sexual violence, makes aggression look like a reasonable way to solve conflict, forbids seeking health care (and even thinking about seeking mental health care), and pours fuel on the fire of drug and alcohol abuse.
“Toxic masculinity even invades life’s small pleasures. To paraphrase the comedian Bill Burr, the man box means you can’t admit a baby is cute, hug a puppy, say you want a cookie, order banana pancakes, or carry an umbrella in the rain (“Get those shoulders up!”).”
And how do we fight it?
- Allow your kids and your men to have emotions and express them, damn it.
- Call out people for being nasty trolling idiots.
- Look at your kids’ role models. Are they toxic?
- Remember toxic people can change. Your mistakes don’t have to destroy you. Just thinking they do is toxic.
- Admit that culture and society has helped shape you and your personality and belief systems.
DOG TIP FOR LIFE
Don’t be afraid to explore who you are and why you are that way.
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License.
Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.
AND we have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! It’s taking a bit of a hiatus, but there are a ton of tips over there.
We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream biweekly live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and YouTube on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook. But she also has extra cool content focused on writing tips here.
Carrie is reading one of her raw poems every once in awhile on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!