BOYS don't CRY?
OF COURSE THEY DO.
Living in a country with higher level of gender quality is significantly beneficial for men’s health. It shows in lower mortality, a higher level of well-being, lowered depression by 50%, greater probability of protected intercourse, lower suicide rates, and lowered risk of violent death by 40%
Stereotypical ideas about masculinity and femininity oppose gender equality. And toxic masculinity is a very potent venom for boys and men. Once it seeps in, it poisons relationships and accepts violence as a form of expression.
Since they are small, boys in stressful situations often hear “what kind of a man are you” and “be tough” and “big boys don’t cry” and “act like a man”. When a boy fails, he feels vulnerable, ashamed, or even scared, he considers it as a threat towards his masculinity.
WHAT IS THE OPPOSITE OF TOXIC MASCULINITY?
If the first thing that came to your mind is femininity, you are wrong. The correct term is authenticity, just not being fake.
When we criticize toxic masculinity, it means that we consider all stereotypically “manly” characteristics as toxic. The greater part of what it means to be a man is not toxic.
It is not toxic to be self-confident, strong, assertive, or loyal. It is not toxic to be physically attractive or to want to earn money. It is not toxic to want to protect people close to you, nor being proud of your successes. These all are the characteristics connected with manliness which are themselves not harmful. The real problem comes when somebody supposes that there is only one true way that you can be a man, or you can be a woman. If you believe that you cannot be strong without being weak from time to time, then it doesn’t matter if you want or do not want something because it’s “your duty” to earn money, be tough and unapproachable, and not feel the feelings that make up a human life.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Neither aggression nor violence are natural male characteristics. They are often only expressions of fear of one’s own feelings and vulnerability. Being sensitive does not mean that you are weak or there is something wrong with you. If you want to have good grades, it does not mean that you are boring. If you want to express your feelings, it does not mean you are a “woman”. If you want to wait for sex, it does not mean you are less manly. If you are scared from time to time, it does not mean you are a weakling. It takes courage, strength, and bravery to manage your feelings, and handle them in a responsible way – suppressing your feelings or ignoring them is weakness itself. And if you ask a girl for consent before having sex with her, that is truly sexy, manly, and brave.
WHAT IS TOXIC MASCULINITY?
Toxic masculinity rewards and validates behaviour which oppresses emotions or vulnerability and gives preference to aggression and dominance. It is a source of every-day sexism and gender-based violence.
When speaking about toxic masculinity, you’ll encounter the idea that all men are toxic and evil. This is not true. But the fact itself that some people equate “toxic masculinity” with “masculinity” is the long and short of it.
Toxic masculinity defines masculinity by violence, sex, status, and aggression. It’s defining masculinity by strength above all, which stands in contrast to the weakness of expression of emotions. Just notice how often the sex or its lack of it is used as an insult. “Beta”, “pussy”, “gay” or “girl” are often used to label someone who “doesn’t have a pair.” Manliness, and being a good man, is more than just having and using your balls.
Since a young age, we say to girls that a “boy beats you and pulls your hair because he likes you”. These attitudes of “boys will be boys” contribute to a culture where the aggressive behaviour of men towards women is totally fine. Once these kids become adults, this behaviour is silently tolerated or even supported. What if we said instead, “You only touch people if they want you to”?