Toxic Masculinity: what it is and how it Manifests itself

Toxic masculinity exists in every culture. The determination to prove oneself, evolves from childhood to adulthood. Men feel they need to prove to everyone that they are “real men” by performing risky actions. They feel they need to take on the world, pushing their limits; in different situations, whether it is defending the honor of their family, loved one, or simply their own. Jennifer K. Bosson and Joseph A. Vandello state that men repeatedly try to up their status and manhood. The patriarchy, all throughout history has always been at the top of the social ladder. Men feel like it is a right to have a higher status than a woman. They constantly need to prove themselves in order to keep that status, that is where toxic masculinity comes into play. Men who acts out in violence feel like it is justified simply because they are men. Situations such as domestic abuse often occur simply because men, historically are power hungry, yet they still feel it is a right. Different cultures support the thought that a stronger man is far better than a weaker man, or a submissive man.

Physical and social reasons that are explained in Bosson and Vandello’s study shows that men are more likely to act out when defending one’s honor or when the status of their manhood is threatened. Not only is this a toxic relationship to have with oneself but this can cause problems in relationships and in their future. The relationships they have now or will have, will suffer and most of the time end aggressively. Men feel like they need to push the limits or boundaries in order to achieve a higher status. The studies conducted show that men are more likely to support the acts of aggression and be more understanding, whereas a woman will disagree with said actions. Men are taught to not show emotion, to not be reasonable when it comes to feelings. They put their feelings aside and choose to do whatever action that will increase their status. They are determined to do anything that proves to others that they are a strong and dominant man.

Many different cultures have a different meaning of what it is to be a man. Some Asian cultures believe that a man represents the whole family, that honor is the most important. Just like in the Asian culture, Mexican culture also believes that the man should live with honor, should be a person of great strength, and should decide everything. Growing up in a very strict Mexican family, the man was always the one to make the decisions, the woman was the one who always would wait on the man. As a daughter the responsibilities included making food, to cook and clean, and to be at foot and hand of the man in charge. My brothers, on the other hand, had to learn how to do manual labor. They were the ones pushed to constantly do well in school and they overall were always taught to never be emotional. They were told to never cry, or to show deep emotions. They had to keep going and not dwell on their feelings. Not only was this shown in my family, but also with other relatives and friends. Most guys do not want to show emotion because they believe it is a sign of weakness.

The idea that men need to prove they are “real men” is one that has been touched upon all throughout history. Men have always been the ones to call the shots or the ones to have power. Toxic masculinity is a real thing, and it exists in every culture. The belief that a boy or man should not cry, or show any “weak” emotion, is not healthy. They are not able to talk about how they feel, rather they are told to stop being weak or to stop “acting like a girl”.  

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