The Spectrum of Masculinity — The Toxic End
Often, masculinity is associated with toxicity, some may say the two are synonymous. A quick Google search of the word “toxic” would immediately show “toxic masculinity” as one of the top recommendations. “Toxic masculinity”, a term once only heard in gender studies classrooms, has suddenly become widely used.
For a good number of years, I read about masculinity to better alter and reconstruct the model I’ve been dealt with by life, my father. He’s a good man but he’s the product of his generation that accepted the “manbox” as a given and never seriously thought to challenge it.
The crux of the manbox for me is the ruthless suppression of men’s diverse behaviour. It doesn’t acknowledge that masculinity is a spectrum so wide that we can even talk about ‘masculinities’. Instead, it imposes a rigid and outdated view of what a man is dictated by the patriarchy, it’s a game where only a few men “win” and most miss out.
Some men are vegans, love reading and collecting stamps, and others love their steak and enjoy sports. There is nothing toxic about neither of these two groups, but it can become when one group (or anyone else) starts demanding that other men adopt specific traits as corresponding to masculinity.
Toxic masculinity is selfish and I would say it is about:
- Controlling behaviour. Toxic masculinity dominates and does not allow self-expression. It aims for a predictable behaviour dictated by the manbox and anything less than that it is not accepted. Fear, violence and abusive behaviour in all of its forms is used to control others’ actions. Sadly, none of these traits rarely come alone. The man trapped in the manbox is himself full of fear. Due to fear of being perceived weak, he effortlessly uses any combination of the lethal trio to avoid being exposed.
- No respect for boundaries. Boundary trespassing comes in many shapes and sizes from more seemingly innocent behaviours such as humour all the way to more extreme and violent forms. This is another avenue for one to assert his dominance and achieve conformity to the manbox mantra.
- Emphasis on physical strength. This is not a critique of sports lovers or those passionate…