Can You Be A Good Person And Be Affected By Toxic Masculinity?
The answer is yes. I do believe that you can be a good person and also have traits of toxic masculinity. I can tell you this because I am at the centre of a relationship surrounded by it left right and centre, and I honestly hadn’t realized it until recently.
What Is Toxic Masculinity?
A quick Google search will define Toxic Masculinity as various cultural norms that are associated with harm to society and men themselves. The best example of this is how men are taught to not show emotions from a very young
age. They’re told that if they show any sign or emotion (something perceived as feminine, which is such BS because men and women alike are born with emotions–it’s human) that they’re sissies.
The thing about toxic masculinity is that it is so ingrained in us that it can actually be hard to see until someone else points it out. We are surrounded by toxic masculinity, it’s so abundant it’s hard to not view it as ‘normal’. It’s almost everywhere we look, movies, books, our friends, parents, it’s everywhere.
If you’re here though, you’re probably somewhat aware of what toxic masculinity is and want to know if it’s something you’ve experienced personally or been the victim of, this is why I will share with you some everyday examples of toxic masculinity.
Everyday Examples of Toxic Masculinity
- Not expressing feelings
- Using derogatory homophobic language
- Lack of emotional sensitivity (low empathy)
- Aggression Chauvinism and sexism
Not Expressing Feelings
Like I said above, this is probably the most common trait that we, as a society, have built into our boys and men. We have told them from such a young age that showing emotions is a “feminine” quality one that if they show, will be perceived as a weakness. We tell them to hide it. We tell them to hold everything in, and not show the world, because to be a man you must not show any sign of emotions.
Could you imagine? Could you freaking imagine going your whole life like that? Could you? I am serious, think about it.
I am an emotional person, I always have been, and perhaps it was my upbringing and the empathy that I was taught to have at a young age for everything from ants, to Mother Earth. But I could not imagine being who I am today and having to hold back every tear of anger, frustration, sadness, or happiness. I could not imagine living a life so stoic that you could even still call it life because a life, to me, without emotions is a life that truly hasn’t been lived.
Men boast about never crying, or “the only time I ever cried was when so and so died.” That isn’t something to boast about, it does not show strength, all it shows is the affirmation of our social conditioning. That’s all. There’s no gold medal to be won for not crying, you’re not tougher, you’re not stronger, I would even go as far as to say you’re less human when you’re not in touch with your emotions.
I personally know that sometimes a good cry is necessary, and after that
release of emotions, you pick yourself up and decide how you will positively move forward. It’s a part of the process of living. Crying is always seen as such a negative, but honestly, I always have the best ideas after a good cry. It’s my hidden superpower.
Using Derogatory Homophobic Language
Okay, this one had to be pointed out to me because I truly thought it was bros just being bros, “locker room talk”.
I was wrong. This is not bros just being bros, this is a sign of toxic masculinity, and is absolutely unacceptable.
Most of us know that calling people hurtful names is wrong, we were taught this at a very young age. But for some reason, we collectively have given boys/men a pass for so many years...this ‘pass’ probably stems from the social conditioning from years ago where men were always seen as superior, smarter and better than women.
This pass has been titled “locker room talk”, or simply pushed to the side and labelled “boys just being boys”. What we are doing by labeling it these things is giving boys/men a green light to be cruel.
It’s bullshit. I am no psychologist but this seems like the perfect cradling to a mob-like mentality which leads to things such as rape, gangs, violence etc.
Terms like “that’s so gay”, “no homo”, “fa&&0t”, should not be given a pass in front of women, with “the boys”, or with anyone.
I believe that it’s on men to correct men when they hear these terms being tossed back and forth. I understand that correcting your buddies could be seen as difficult, out of fear of being made fun of, however, it’s necessary to create change for the better.
Lack Of Emotional Sensitivity (Low Empathy)
This one really hits home for me because as stated above, I am an emotional
person, and I am not ashamed of it. The first time I experienced Low Empathy in my relationship, I didn’t even notice it...guess what I attributed it to? “He’s a guy, he doesn’t have to understand it.”
I said those words to myself. I did.
After discovering that there was a term (Toxic Masculinity) to the things I was experiencing… I felt like someone was lifting a blindfold off of my face and I was seeing the light for the very first time.
I eventually realized that when I was expressing how I felt and he said “I don’t care”, or got mad at me and called me “soft” or told me that I was crying too much, that I was being a victim of his toxic masculinity. At first, I was mad at him, I was angry at his lack of empathy… how could he not empathize with what I was feeling? I felt that as his partner he should be making the effort to understand me, especially when I was being vulnerable with him.
I don’t blame him though and I don’t blame his upbringing, I blame us a society for not doing better.
Kicking things, throwing the gaming remote across the room, punching the wall… “he’s a boy”.
Yes he is acting like a boy, however, he is a man.
Aggression is what happens when you bottle things up inside. You eventually blow up. This is what we’ve taught our boys/men to do.
No crying, no vulnerability, absolutely no emotions.
So what do they do when they feel annoyed, frustrated, sad, but can’t show a “soft” emotion? Well, they show anger instead. When I first saw signs of aggression I was quick to nip them in the bud. I explained myself and gave him the scenario of a child having a temper tantrum. When children show aggression because they’re not getting their way it’s because they can’t express themselves properly.
As an adult capable of expression, anger should not substitute it.
Chauvinism And Sexism
This is another sign of toxic masculinity. When someone believes that their gender is the better gender, or says something like “you’re a woman, you won’t understand”, that is a tell-tale sign of toxic masculinity.
These are only some of the everyday examples of toxic masculinity, I am sure there are a lot more, however, these are the ones I have experienced.
How Do We Create Change?
It’s never easy changing societal norms. Believe me, I grew out my armpit hair to take a stand against the societal norm that women must look like children to be considered desirable which is honestly so twisted.
Any whom, my point is it’s hard to create change, but the good news is that it is not impossible. As women, we must teach our young, it’s our job as parents to do better and teach the up and coming generations to be better than we ever were.
Be loud. Things won’t change unless we’re constantly talking about them. Social media is an amazing tool to be loud with. Be an advocate for positive change.
Educate and empower. I wasn’t aware of this label "Toxic Masculinity" even though I was experiencing it. Now that I know what to call it, it will be something I talk about with family, on social media and dive deeper into.
So as I said to start this, I do believe that someone can be a good person at heart and have toxic conditioning instilled in them. I also believe that people can unlearn these bad habits.
Veronica Beltran - Veronica is part of the Digital Marketing Team at Modern Match Lingerie. She has a passion to create a difference in the world, something she takes pride in doing through her work at Modern Match. She was previously a journalist and news anchor. In her spare time, she enjoys creating social media content.