Toxic Masculinity

Toxic Masculinity

What exactly does it take to be a real man?

What exactly makes someone a man? What are some traditional things that boys need to do in order to "become a man?" Although feminist ideas are expanding, it seems as though the toxic ideas of masculinity are not going away.

Social media has even begun to highlight the ways that masculinity has become so fragile. Men have to question whether something is too girly for them and they seem to go above and beyond to not be perceived as gay. It doesn't just have to do with their sexuality being questioned. Men are not allowed to show emotional or creative expression because it is apparently too feminine. Gender lines still too strict and they are clearly drawn by society. Inside these gender lines, are the typical roles that men and women were put in. Being trapped in these roles is what causes toxic behaviors to come out of masculinity. The toxic behaviors typically include things like emotional detachment from others, aggression dealing with sexism or homophobia, sexual objectification or intimidation.

This type of behavior is not something that came out of no where. Toxic masculinity stems from the idea that males need to be in control. This idea of a mans ability to dominate, control and to succeed at all costs come from a young age. Boys are shown by society that they have to be strong or at least stronger than women to be successful. The rise of the "empowered woman" is becoming a threat to this toxic masculinity. Every day, society is progressing more and the idea of what a woman can and can't do is also changing. But although the feminism movement has lead to great things for women, it has done little to diminish toxic masculinity.

With all this being said, it should be made clear that there are good and bad types of masculinity. Just like there are good types of femininity and bad types as well. The strictness of these gender lines are what, in my opinion, causes the aggression. Everyone should feel comfortable crossing these lines.

My experience with toxic masculinity was more on the emotional side than an aggressive one. I grew up with a very macho-type of father. He never showed and to this day still shows little emotion. I have never discussed my feelings towards anything to him because I was raised to think that it was not something men do. When I was still in the closet, I assumed that showing any emotion would give people the idea that I was gay so I suppressed it even more. I never really put thought into why men are so scared of doing anything feminine until after I came out.

I feel that LGBT people are the ones who are allowed to play with gender roles the most. It will not surprise anyone as much if a gay man is wearing make up because these are the stereotypes that society has given them. So, if a straight man is seen wearing make-up or even fixing his eye brows, people begin to question his sexual preference. It seems idiotic that males have to be insecure about keeping up with their hygiene or wearing make up when they want. With that being said, even the gay community is insecure about being "too feminine." Gay people are beginning to hate this idea of other gay men being too feminine. I believe that the gender lines are made to be crossed in however way a person feels comfortable. Men should not be afraid of showing their creative or emotional side just like women should not be intimidated at the idea of gaining power or being in control.

Cover Image Credit: Paper Mart

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.


To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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Past Legal And Modern Social Apartheid

An opinion piece on past legal Apartheid in South Africa and how it is socially reflected in the United States.


When stepping inside of a solitary cell at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg, I felt a tightness in my chest and wanted to leave that small space immediately; imagining a Black South African who broke the pass laws during Apartheid being in there is beyond disturbing. Due to laws such as the Native (Urban) Areas Act No 21 of 1923, the Bantu/Native Building Workers Act of 1951, and the Bantu Homelands Citizens Act of 1970, Black South Africans during Apartheid were extremely limited in where they could live, detrimentally affecting their economic and employment opportunities. When touring the former Constitutional Hill prison, the guide told us that, when Black South Africans were caught without passes permitting their stay in Joburg for the day and/or night, they spent 5 days in prison, along with murderers and others who committed serious crimes. If caught multiple times breaking these pass laws, they would spend 5 years in this prison. Most of those who violated these pass laws were unemployed or sought better employment in Joburg; this is understandable, as a person has a better chance of having a job by being there physically. When thinking further about the lack of opportunity they suffered from due to the aforementioned laws creating this effect, this legal repercussion becomes further and further disturbing. Additionally, this also directly led to the creation of "White" and "Black" areas, where Whites lived in areas of better opportunity (ex. cities, suburbia), and Blacks were subjected to living in poverty and townships where there was limited economic and employment opportunities.

This lack of opportunity is echoed in the U.S. when looking at socially designated "White" and "Black" areas. Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman essentially because he thought Martin "was not where he belonged", which was in a nice suburban area. As a person of color myself, I have been stared at in museums, followed in stores, and once at 12 years old kicked out of a shop (I did not do anything wrong), because I "stuck out". In this way, society told me (and violently told Martin) that we don't belong in those areas, that we "belong" in ghettos or prison; the racial demographics of populations in U.S. prisons will support me here. Therefore, by society socially designating where people "belong", not only do they bind themselves in their own ignorance, but also prevent people of color from sharing the same access to plentiful life and economic opportunity.


Native (Urban) Areas Act No 21 of 1923: Prevented Black South Africans from leaving designated area without a pass. The ruling National Party saw this as keeping Whites "safe" while using Blacks for cheap labor.

Bantu/Native Building Workers Act of 1951: Allowed Black South Africans to enter the building industry as artisans and laborers. Restricted to "Native" areas. Prevented competition between Whites, Coloureds, and Blacks. Could not work outside a designated area unless given special permission.

Bantu Homelands Citizens Act of 1970: All Black South Africans would lose their South African citizenship/nationality over time. Would not be able to work in "South Africa" due to being aliens. Black South Africans would have to work inside their own areas and could only work in urban areas if they had special permission from the Minister.

South African History Online. "Apartheid Legislation 1850s-1970s." South African History Online, South African History Online, 11 Apr. 2016,

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