HBO put one of society's biggest issues on the forefront and I support it 100%
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A Dissection of Toxic Masculinity in "Euphoria"

HBO put one of society's biggest issues on the forefront and I support it 100%


For those of you who are unaware, Euphoria is an HBO drama series that follows the life of Rue Bennett after her near deadly overdose. While emphasizes greatly on her struggles to re-enter society following perhaps the most traumatic part of her life, the show also explores issues that plague teens all over the world such as sex, identity, trauma, social media, and toxic masculinity. In my opinion, the latter issue has been the most enthralling to see unravel on the screen, as it is a rarity the topic is explored in real life, let alone mass media. I was so impressed by its manifestation in the show, that I decided to dissect it all right here on the Odyssey so others can revel in the superb job the directors/producers (and of course, Jacob Elordi) have done in shedding light on one of America's most prominent issues.

From the moment his character is introduced, it is blatantly obvious that Nate Jacobs serves as the show's poster boy for toxic masculinity being that he struggles to separate love and control and more often than not comes off being an extremely violent aggressor when he himself believes he is a mighty female protector. His overbearingness and desire to be in control all the time are present early on in the season, when Rue reveals he has a "grocery list" of features he likes for women and how negatively he reacts when they don't conform to his personal beauty standards. He fulfills his desire of having a "perfect woman" when he begins dating Maddy- a girl he is struck by upon first sight and believes to be perfect. Now, when most people find someone to enter a relationship with, they cherish them, encourage them to live their life to the fullest, and boost them to new levels... Nate however is not most people. It is quickly revealed that Nate's possessiveness soaked deeply into his relationship with Maddy-mainly in the guise of telling her what to wear, who to hangout with, where to go, etc and often times appeared in the form of atrocious physical violence whenever she acted against him. So far, the show has presented to great exposés of just how far Nate will go in the realm of physical violence and I must say, it's rather startling. The first act occurs after Maddy covers up her drunken hookup with another boy by saying she blacked out (and therefore couldn't consent to intercourse)- upon hearing this, Nate breaks into his house and beats him over and over again until his face is covered in blood. While this could come off as doing the right thing or trying to protect Maddy from another evil human being, it is important to remember that the boy accused of rape was innocent and was encouraged by Maddy to have sex with her in order to make Nate jealous. The boy tells Nate this repeatedly and begs him to hear him out, but Nate is blinded by his desire to assert his power and control that he continues to wail on the poor boy until he decides his job is done. In the second instance, Nate chokes Maddy after she causes a scene at a carnival where his family and friends are present. Yes, she caused a scene and yes she likely embarrassed him but nothing she did or could've done warranted being deprived of air and left black and blue. Nate's continuous use of physical violence to assert his power over others is exactly what toxic masculinity is... proving to others that you are the manliest man by whatever means possible.

Another interesting point that very likely influences Nate's struggles with male toxicity is the fact that he is (supposedly... i.e. based on Rue's narrations) gay or bisexual and struggles with internalized homophobia as a way to make himself seem more like whoever wants/expects him to be. Nate's internalized homophobia likely stems from being brought up by his abusive father, who raised both his sons to be the quintessential macho-jock type and degraded any signs of femininity within them (it must be noted however, that Nate's father might too struggle from internalized homophobia and/or sexual identity struggles because he engages in numerous sexual encounters with male and female characters during the show). By being raised this way, Nate has grown to believe that the only "right" type of man is the one who plays football, is popular, gets all the girls, drives a nice car, throws the best parties, etc when in reality it is likely the man he wants to be is completely different. The possibility of Nate being a rather good guy hidden underneath layers and layers of exaggerated male bravado presents itself through his online dating identity "shyguy118", which he uses to begin an online romance with Jules, a young transgender woman who has recently moved into town (although his intentions are still unclear and no one truly knows if he has legitimate feelings for her or if he's using her as a pawn). This relationship has yet to be explored in great depth, however it will bring about great insight to who Nate is as person and perhaps provide him a chance to redeem himself as a human being before its too late.

Overall, Nate Jacobs is the personification of how damaging toxic masculinity is detrimental to the self, loved ones, and everyone around us. When boys, young, and adult men suffer and/or exhibit toxic masculinity, we as a society lose because they are exhibiting behaviors that have not only been taught, but in some instances been encouraged. Toxic masculinity does no good and only tells men that they must suppress their emotions and enhance their means of masculinity by exuding unnecessary and harmful amounts of power and control. Toxic masculinity doesn't build a good man, it builds an abuser. It builds someone who will hurt others for their own gain. It tells men that they must suffer in silence and place aggression on others rather than allow themselves to release their emotions cathartically. Toxic masculinity destroys lives.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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