Many people don't quite know what toxic masculinity is and what it actually means. When researching for this article, I asked many of my close friends and family if they knew what toxic masculinity was. The result was the each time I asked, someone gave me a new definition and a new outlook on this topic.
Toxic masculinity has evolved over the years and has gotten more intricate. The phrase 'toxic masculinity' has many different meanings, but a core aspect of this is that the masculine traits go to a toxic level. This means that there is a heavier reliance on aggression, anti-feminity, the search and seeking of power, and traits becoming more calloused, such as being emotionally rough, physically strong, and not wanting to ask for help.
Society and often the older generation of men push these ideals onto young men. This in turn shapes them for the rest of their lives. Society teaches these young men that they shouldn't show emotion, they shouldn't cry, or show any feelings but anger and hardness. It also teaches these young men that they should be seeking power and power positions not only in their work and career, but also in their personal and home life. They are pressured to have more power in their home, be the 'breadwinner' of their family, and gain the respect of those in their personal lives.
Toxic masculinity not only affects those around these men but can also affect their personal wellbeing. Men who have more toxic masculinity traits are less likely to go seek medical and mental attention. If they struggle with mental health, they are 2x less likely to go and seek help. They are also less likely to go get physicals and get medical attention if they are hurt.
Toxic masculinity sometimes affects women and others as well. Men who have these toxic masculine traits often treat women like they are less than them, and they are more aggressive and can be insensitive toward others' feelings. Another trait that is often seen in these men is heterosexism.
Heterosexism is when a person is discriminated against because they are not heterosexual. Toxic masculinity is often harmful to others but it is also harmful to men as well. Examples of some things that are considered toxic masculinity would be phrases such as "No Homo" or "I'm a guy, what do you expect" and even "You can't do that, you're a woman".
There are also societal impacts of toxic masculinity. Societal impacts vary, but include topics such as rape culture, violence, exclusions, and substance abuse.
Rape culture is extremely present in today's society, unfortunately. This is a contributing factor to how present rape and sexual assault are in society. Men often see women as conquests and try to "conquer" a variety of women to prove their worth and to show their power.
Men are often applauded for these conquests, reinforcing this ideology. Often people will put the blame on the victim as well, saying things such as "boys will be boys" or "she shouldn't have worn that" and even "she was asking for it".
Toxic masculinity also teaches these men that violence, aggression, and anger are often how they should solve problems. It is taught that if you don't show these emotions and solve issues this way then you are weak. This could create domestic violence cases, an increase in gun violence, and other violence in society.
Men who don't have these toxic masculine traits, which there are plenty out there, often get ostracized because they don't have these traits and aren't "manly". This can mentally affect young men and children. There can also be an increase in substance use in these men who display toxic masculinity traits. This is because they feel weak for seeking the mental or physical help that they need, so they may turn to other coping mechanisms.