When Does Masculinity Become Toxic?

By: Autumn Walters, Assistant Editor

Autumn Walters, Assistant Editor

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“Don’t be such a sissy.”

“That’s gay.”

“You throw like a girl!”

Everyone’s more than likely heard at least one, if not all, of these phrases directed at someone else and/or himself if he is male. What do these three sentences have in common besides their shared notoriety and subject? Femininity is being used as an insult in every case.

Masculinity is defined by www.dictionary.com/ as the “possession of the qualities traditionally associated with men” while femininity is “the quality of being female; womanliness.” Meanwhile, “toxic masculinity” is a newer term related to the first, defined by https://www.wikipedia.org/ as something “…used in the social sciences to describe traditional norms of behavior among men in contemporary American and European society that are associated with detrimental social and psychological effects.”

This is where we reach our main subject-when masculinity becomes toxic. The overbearing pressure to conform to traits viewed as traditionally male is an instance of misogyny (prejudice against women) that hurts both males and females.

In Ben Shapiro’s article The “Toxic Masculinity” Smear he argues for masculinity, stating that “it is male soldiers attempting to liberate women from the depravity of ISIS terrorists. Males destroy, but males also build.” This point is true! However, he goes on to say that “but in their effort to eradicate the destructive male tendency, the Left has pushed emasculation as a solution.” There are liberals who do try to do this, but most do not. What Shapiro does not acknowledge is that masculinity is not the target of critique here-toxic masculinity is. It is not the want to be a “gentleman” that causes violence, but the pressure to be aggressive and tough-to “man up”-that is. Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of masculinity and boys as much as I like the idea of femininity and girls. I am also a female, so it is possible that I could be wrong on some fronts. However, I also think that males, if they wish to do so, should be allowed to engage in behaviors traditionally associated with women without being viewed as weak. “I like romcoms and I knit, and people don’t see me as particularly unmasculine,” said Dallen, a male senior at Taylor County High School.

Sanduhruh (@boguspress) on Twitter, a clown, shared a story about face-painting a young boy in a series of posts. Her account and some of the aforementioned posts are not-safe-for-work but the gist of the story is that a four-year-old boy wanted a butterfly painted on his face, but his parents would not allow it and wanted “…something for boys.” “…and when girls want skulls or sharks the parents shrug and laugh like ‘haha she’s a kooky kid!’ because maleness and masculinity isn’t a sin. But when a boy want to enjoy something for its beauty, they are told it’s not for them. Not in this house. Not in this family. We are teaching them that anger & violence r the only things they are allowed to experience. That to value beauty & elegance is shameful. I know that it was just facepaint, but that’s sort of my point,” she stated.

According to Ian Hughes in his article, Why are Men More Likely to Be Violent than Women?, “Data from the United States for the period 1980 to 2008, for example, shows that men were responsible for 90% of the murders committed during that period.” Even without this data, take a look at recent events involving violence. The Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia saw not only plenty of hate, but also the hurt and murders of minorities. During the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada, someone opened fire on concertgoers. Both of these tragic events saw mostly men committing terrible acts. It may not be such a stretch for parents and authorities to, considering these, wonder how much they should encourage male children to be aggressive.

Teaching boys that anything feminine is bad can lead to a prejudice against women, and abuse, violence, and even something as extreme as rape in adulthood towards that gender. Women are taught not to get sexually assaulted, rather than men being taught not to commit sexual assault. This discouragement of “girly” behaviors can lead to self-hate in said girls, too. Hayley Watson, a female senior at Taylor County High School admits, “As a kid, the environment at school made me think that feminine qualities were considered inferior, so I would try not to like those things.”

Toxic masculinity hurts females and males, and is something that I think that we as a society should work away from. Boys and girls should be able to enjoy both masculine and feminine things without shame.

Feel free to debate this topic in comments, all that is asked of you is that you respect one another.

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Taylor County High School's News and Literary Magazine
When Does Masculinity Become Toxic?