Toxic Masculinity

I am walking down the street when I feel a few eyes on me. I look sideways and see a few guys gaping at me. Is it my dress? Is it my hair? No. I keep walking, they hoot. They call out a few names and laugh among them. I am uncomfortable now. I walk faster. They follow me. I am scared. Should I call someone? What’s the police’s number? Should I run? I look back and see that they’re stationary now, laughing nevertheless. I am relieved. They are proud of how they were successful in making one tiny girl scared. They are proud of successfully being able to make someone uncomfortable with their remarks. Kudos, guys! We are the victims of toxic masculinity.

This is just a drop in the ocean that I am talking about. Every day we come across different versions of these scenarios. Oh, wait, I am not here to rant about how oppressed we are and how we need help. I am here to discuss the upbringing and the pressure of the society that most likely leads to situations like these.Β  This issue has so many tributaries that it will only take a second for us to diverge from the one that I am writing about.

What it means.

I have always been a little underconfident about what these words meant together. How a general characteristic of a person can be considered toxic always startled me. I had assumed it has more to do with women than with men and I was wrong. It is more closely associated with how the upbringing of men in a patriarchal society instills a false ego, a sense of superiority and pride, and a dominance over other “weaklings” creates a kind of behavior that is harmful to them and their dear ones.

When I look back on that incident, I see a bunch of guys who are laughing about being able to scare a single girl when they are in a group, by cracking lame comments at her as she passes by. This gives them the “pretense authority” over her and they know how they seek validation of being a superior gender every day. This is their easiest way. I feel sad for them.

More often than not, men get offended when this issue is addressed to them. Perhaps, they know it’s wrong and yet they do not know how to defend it because no one in their childhood sat them down and spoke to them with words of acceptance, understanding, and compassion. They were told to put up a brave front and wipe off those tears and show strength, arrogance, and exterior of “manliness”. They were told that crying is for the weak and dominance was their power, even if that led them to abuse and assault others.

Addressing the issue.

Barring the torture that their loved ones go through, even the people suffering from toxic masculinity are undergoing constant pressure to be bigger and better. Being unable to cope up with that, they tend to take up substance abuse and unhealthy habits, slowly leading to depression and seclusion. A sequence of disturbing traits builds up in them which leads to more and more sorrow and less and less of joy. If there is anything that this false sense of pride associated with toxic masculinity brings is dissatisfaction and discontentment.

So, “Boys will be boys” doesn’t have to be an acceptable thing anymore. It’s more of a personal choice rather than what the society has been pinning us under. Shedding tears is not weak, it’s human. Lending a hand of help to those who need you is a sign of generosity; turning your face away is inhumane. Harassing others doesn’t make you more of a man. You don’t have to raise your voice to prove how masculine you are. If you slightly feel the need to prove yourself to anyone, I think that’s where you need to pause, take a break, and rethink the toxicity that you might have been harboring.

To read about how to deal with certain insecurities, head on to Dealing With Insecurities.

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  • Nyxie says:

    This is a fantastic post and I hope it reaches a large portion of the male population who read blogs. It’s something that needs to be addressed. It’s ridiculous that some men feel this is still an appropriate away to act.

  • Ella says:

    Thanks so much for sharing, it’s always a conversation to be had and good to hear from another voice! Great work πŸ™‚

  • Hannah Louise says:

    It’s sad that things like this still need to be address in this day and age, thank you for sharing!

  • Manju SM says:

    Awesome article. I liked the way you have clearly mentioned where masculinity gets toxic. Time men introspected themselves.

  • Brooke says:

    I was recently trying to explain what it is like to be a woman out walking alone to my fiance. I even said to him that getting harassed was not happening as much as I got older, and I was happy about that. The very next day, we were out walking together and a car full of men starting screaming vulgar things to me out the window. It was crazy timing, and he was surprised to see what happens to women. So thankful that I am raising a strong girl who stands up for herself and a strong boy who treats females with respect and dignity. There are so many good men out there. Never let the bad actions of some influence your opinions of them all.

    • notsocordial says:

      I agree! I know it’s hard to explain someone how it affects us and how it is so frequent. But, I am glad you’re trying to instill this value in the people you’re raising πŸ™‚

  • Moheb W. says:

    I’m so sorry you had to go through this! Apparently we have a similar problem in Cairo. Thanks for sharing

  • Archana says:

    Thanks for sharing. Its so relevant .Nice post.

  • Renish says:

    nice understandings.
    cant judge a book by seeing a its cover
    Shedding tears is not weak, it’s human!!

  • Thank you for writing this. I liked how you talked about harassment being about power and about feeling superior – not a ‘compliment’. I also liked how you explained clearly that it’s not about individual men being bad people, but about how society has conditioned them as a group, how we expect certain things for a person to be classified as ‘masculine’. I hope that some men are able to read this and not feel upset by it, because it’s men that need to make this change, as I do understand that it must be pretty scary to be the one person in a group who has to stand up and suggest that maybe this behaviour isn’t ok.

  • Asher Downer says:

    It’s crazy that stuff like this still happens! Good post though, keep writing x

  • A x says:

    I’m so glad you shared this post! I’m so happy to see that someone has shared this!

  • Kaila Smith says:

    This post is so needed. It’s terrifying that it even needs to be addressed, but what you described in the beginning has happened to me too. I’m sure so many other women experience men giving off their toxic masculinity. Thank you

  • Kez says:

    You’d think this wouldnt be something you’d have to write about in the 21st century, right?
    It seems society still has a long way to go.

  • Laura Smith says:

    It’s so infuriating. More than anything, I get them shouting obnoxious things out their car window as they pass by my house. I feel like I should take down their license plate, get a restraining order, and make it so that they can’t drive past my house ever again, just to teach them that you can’t do that. It starts when they’re teenagers, and it continues on through adulthood. I’m trying to work in my yard, not show off for them. And men in my family get mad about that, but like you said, they get offended when you bring up more serious stuff, and they worry about getting wrongly accused by “sensitive” women. I try to tell them that they don’t have to worry. All they have to do is be a decent human being, and they’ll be fine.

  • Jennifer says:

    I told myself that if I ever had a son I would raise him to believe that emotional expression and empathy are okay. I’m hoping as society progresses that becomes more common!

  • Erika says:

    What a great, true article. Thank you for opening my eyes on the matter. It’s an angle I didn’t fully realize.

  • Your last point is so important because it’s that moment of reflection I think a lot of men need. What are they really trying to prove? Who has made them believe they have to prove something? The worst is when these men have daughters. If they witnessed toxic behaviour towards their daughter, they would be fuming! I’m sorry you had to experience such vile behaviour yourself.

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