Toxic masculinity plays a large role in many of the behavioral issues we see in men. Seeing as how men make up an extremely large portion of the population, their behavior affects everyone within our society. Some of the behaviors that happen within toxic masculinity are men’s need to do everything on their own, feeling shameful for being emotionally expressive, aspirations for overall mental, physical, and sexual dominance, devaluation of women, and rejecting anything that could be considered feminine. With that said, it is important to note that toxic masculinity in itself is not considered to be toxic. The problem is that toxic masculinity is purely a cultural phenomenon where the idea of masculinity has become weaponized and used as a means to define what it means to be a ‘man’. So as the ideals of toxic masculinity continue to spread and affect young boys and men in our society, what can we do to recover from the overwhelming amount of stigmas that have built up around men throughout human evolution?
For one, we can begin to break down the walls of masculinity and reshape the way that society views gender and consider how our gender norms are taught and reinforced. An example of this would be how most men never learn how to cook or clean for themselves because their mother always picks up after them and then once they are married their wife will usually take over those tasks, instead we can start to enforce men and women both completing house chores as opposed to it being a ‘womens job’. Another thing we can do it provide boys with nonviolent conflict resolution resources so that they can learn to solve problems without getting into a physical fight because oftentimes, men are not inherently or innately violent but they are never given the proper tools to de escalate any situation because society assumes they will solve their problems with their fists.
There will never be a true ending to toxic masculinity since relinquishing it from our society will take years of emphasis on introspection and learning to take accountability. It is not effective to sit by and criticize the bad behaviors that have been presented by men, we have to start safely calling them out and safely keeping them in check if we want to see a real change within our society. By doing this we don’t just want to create better men, we want to create better humans because everyone will benefit by the dissolution of toxic masculinity.
From partners to father figures to brothers and friends, women cannot seem to escape the violent tendencies that many men are plagued by. It seems as though every woman in the United States can recount at least one time that they felt threatened or were threatened by a man. The sad fact of the matter is that it seems like every woman has a story, because almost everyone does. One in three women are likely to experience physical violence from an intimate partner and one in ten women have been raped by their partner.
One would assume that if they are in a relationship with a man and that man loves them that they are safe, but unfortunately that is not the case. In a CNN article titled “Men tell Oprah why they beat the women they love,” two men describe the way that they were feeling when they were the abusers in their relationships. The one man details the times that he beat his wife to the point where he thought he might kill her. He says that he would be filled with blind rage and experience tunnel vision where all he could see and feel was his anger. He has since been able to learn to control himself and his anger and he is no longer beating his wife, but he says that he believes that he became abusive because it was all he knew. He claims to have grown up in an abusive household where he never learned how to de escalate his feelings and emotions so instead he would use his wife as a punching bag to release his anger. However, the instances that sparked his rage were not just him being angry, it was him realizing he did not have complete and total control over his wife and that is what enraged him.
In a world that is run by men, controlled by men, and created for men, men often forget that they cannot control other people, and especially not their significant others. There are similar behaviors in abusers that are often linked to control issues such as being manipulative, trying to be in charge of all aspects of the relationship, and they also typically think of themselves as the true victims. Even the man from the aforementioned CNN article believed to be a victim himself because he grew up in an abusive household so how is he to know how to control his anger? The truth is that he could have broken the cycle, he could have fought his urge to strike another human being, but he didn’t until his wife said she would leave him and take their kids with her if he hit her again. In almost all instances abuse stems purely from the need to feel in control and more powerful over someone else. It is mostly insecure, weak men who are the first to strike a woman and until all men go through therapy, no one is safe. Unfortunately, most abusive men won’t end up in therapy until it is court mandated.