Toxic Masculinity: A Deep Rooted Characteristic of Patriarchy

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The three worst words every boy sometime in their life have heard is ‘Be A Man’.

That's when toxic masculinity comes into the picture because that is the very moment that this evil becomes rooted in the minds of young boys that accumulated and leads to mental health deterioration, depression and a significant number of suicides worldwide.

From the above-stated lines, it is evident that the issue is one that can’t be taken up lightly and needs to be eradicated from society. 

Let's understand the meaning of Toxic Masculinity:

In the social sciences, toxic masculinity refers to conventional patriarchal masculine stereotypes that can be detrimental to people, women, and society as a whole; this definition of toxic masculinity is not meant to demonize people or male attributes, but instead to underline the negative consequences of adherence to these traditional masculine normative attitudes such as dominance, self-reliance, and competitiveness.

Accordingly, toxic masculinity is characterized by adherence to conventional male gender norms which subsequently stigmatize and restrict boys’ and men's emotions while elevating other emotions like rage. This is defined by the cultural, political, and social demands that people pursue superiority and achieve.

Factors contributing to such thinking are developed in society itself starting from our households, friends, network, movies, and almost everything.

The very starting of masculine toxicity can be traced right from the early childhood days. Boys are told not to cry as that is something that people who tend to be weak do. Also, the stigma that girls are weak is also promoted simultaneously, leading to the foundation of gender inequality. The activities they engage in, the kind of colors that are chosen, the toys they play with, every single thing promotes the difference that certain things are meant for boys and others for girls. Boys are mostly kept engaged with action-packed, fighting cartoon shows, engaging in fights, being good in sports and away from social sciences, household work, and being soft. 

Even when it comes to career choices, boys are stripped of several career options such as fashion designing just because these activities aren’t something that a man would engage in. 

Men are expected to be dominant and aggressive. They are expected to engage in fights, beat others, and develop a violent attitude of dealing with things, otherwise, he is expected to wear bangles and sit at home, which is yet another indication of the patriarchal thinking that women are weak and submissive. Moreover, men are supposed to be tough, muscular, and emotionless.

This creates the traditional association of working out, hitting the gym and strength training as must do’s for men. They are supposed to be the protecting shield who isn't allowed to show emotions. This is the most important reason why it is seen in many cases why the behaviour of boys with their female friends is quite different with fellow males as there is the fear of being judged while cringing for many life problems that are not so manly. 

Coming back to Boys do not cry. Crying isn't a symbol of being powerless, it is the stage where you break but vent it out all without holding back. As long as a person holds onto his emotions, they would just eat him up from the inside and always bother him. Since men have the notion that they are not supposed to cry, they seem to face mental health issues and eventually become victims of depression that hamper the productivity of the country as a whole.

This male toxicity is responsible for the large number of male sexual abuse cases that are not reported just because of the fear of society and playing the image of a man. 

The social image that gets created for a boy to fit in its definition is what makes it toxic. Why does this even happen?

Is there a definition that needs to be fulfilled other than the biological affirmation given by the doctor at birth? 

Any person who is different from the general notion of a man is pressured by society to strive to fit into the definition and be forced to change himself. 

But who has given birth to such a notion where has this definition come from?

It's none other than people with narrow-minded and shallow thinking, who tend to define how a human should behave based on their own judgment and observations. They just can't accept that some person is actually being himself and taking the road not taken by many. Such thoughts are the same when it comes to prejudice against women empowerment and also the LGBTQ+ community. 

Another significant stakeholder in promoting male toxicity are movies, especially Bollywood movies. Almost all movies revolve around a hero who is powerful, has to protect the female partner and be all tough. What impact does it create?

Well, when every person tries to be like the protagonist of these movies since they seem happy and have all that is demanded by society to be happy. This creates the stigma that if you are a man, you must be physically strong, dominate women and not showcase any emotions to the outside world.

Overall, toxic masculinity just states that of all men, those who are able to justify the definition created by a society of man as dominant, unemotional, physically tough and picking up blue over pink is what constitutes the set of people called men, else they are just referred to as a girl, gay or a transgender as an insult, which is derogatory to these communities as well. Even in the past, there have been many cases where young teens have committed suicide and almost a significant bunch suffers from depression. This social definition and induced toxicity are indeed communicable as it spreads from one man to several others and people tend to take it as given about the behaviour that is expected from men.

Read this article to further understand about Stigma Revolving Around Men’s Mental Health.

Concerned about your mental health? Give this article on 5 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health a read for some amazing insights on the same.

You can further read this article on Harmful Masculinity And Violence to understand the topic of concern even better.

Written By - Bhanu Jain

Edited By - Kashish Chadha

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