For decades, we’ve been obsessed with masculinity. Men will spend hundreds of thousands watching two men box in a ring or wrestle for entertainment. Some men seem wired for aggression. The reality is many non-male athletes who enjoy combat sports have fantasized about the opportunity to challenge a man considered the alpha of masculinity.
“Toxic masculinity involves cultural pressures for men to behave in certain ways. It’s likely this affects all boys and men in some fashion,” writes Amy Morin, LCSW Editor-in-Chief at Verywell Mind. She further states, “Toxic masculinity refers to the notion that some people’s idea of “manliness” perpetuates domination, homophobia, and aggression.”
The dangers of masculinity
There’s this stereotypic notion that masculine men don’t cry, cook, or fully engage in parenting. This faulty way of thinking gives credence to why masculine men should think twice about upholding the tough man image. It’s been well-documented that toxic masculinity can lead to destructiveness in terms of a man’s physical, emotional, and psychological health.
The following is a snippet of how toxic masculinity shows up:
- Showing no emotion or suppressing emotions
- Needing to dominate or control others
- A tendency towards or glorification of violence
- Low empathy
- Chauvinism and sexism
Also, toxic masculinity has been associated with high suicide rates. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention showed that men died 3.63 times more than women in 2019 simply because of their fearless attitude. “If a male believes they are not meeting these exaggerated traits or aligning with these narrow views, they may feel they are falling short. This may lead to lash out or exaggerate these traits to re-establish their manhood,’ writes Nicole Galan. She adds, “It is this lashing out that can lead to dangerous behavior, both to the individual or those around them.”
It’s not to say that all masculinity should be removed from a man’s mental make up, because that would be pointless and ineffective. However, moderation is the key. Therefore, men with a toxic masculinity mentality are advised to re-examine how peer pressure impacts their need to live up to the tough guy image. The toxic masculinity guy is also encouraged to develop ways to express his feelings that get positive results. “The more people learn about toxic masculinity, and the more people get help for it, the more likely we are to see changes on a bigger level. Society may put less pressure on men to act a certain way,” writes Morin.