When we think of masculinity, often we envision a strong and “manly” type person. Throughout history we have been told that boys like blue, girls like pink, boys don’t cry, and that “boys will be boys”. Yet understanding the nuances of gendered concepts paints quite an unrealistic expectation of how we should act because of our gender. Simple things like, men expected to be fighters, women expected to be emotional and submissive to men. This as we all know, is grade A bullshit, we as complex human beings cannot simply be categorised by narrow-minded conceptions of gender. No, men can be emotional, and we are a lot more complex than a stereotype. Toxic masculinity is essentially a set of traits that are believed to be the “true” masculine way, such as overbearing dominance, physical aggression, anti-feminist mentality and hyper independence. Now I’m not saying that manly men are toxic, but rather those men that maintain these outdated expectations are toxic, as they are resisting societal acceptance and progression. The issue of toxic masculinity becomes a lot more apparent within our modern digital society, as we have groups and communities, or “manosphere“,who are actively promoting and inspiring toxic traits.
The most recent example of this issue is with the rise of Andrew Tate and his “War Room”, which is essentially a group of men who use misogynistic discourse and multilevel marketing strategies to reel in vulnerable young men into their twisted ideology using online promotional tactics. This is significant because influence has a far wider reach within the social media age, so these figureheads of hate are able to attract a lot more followers because of their ability to utilise multimedia strategies. We need to resist toxic masculinity, as it can hinder the confidence some men have in themselves, especially regarding their mental well-being. If people are looking up to an influencer and he is spewing toxic traits, it could inspire the wrong messages. We need to inspire positive masculinity, make it apparent that it is ok to be yourself, you do not have to conform to these extreme gender conventions. We can help change generations of toxicity, and work toward a more encompassing and empathetic view of masculinity for future generations of men. The biggest cause of mental health stigma in men is our worry about how we may be perceived, as we are men and thus should not be expected to express our emotions. This is wrong, and it is about time we tackle those that enforce and maintain toxic masculine ideals.