What is Toxic Masculinity?

Toxic Masculinity- a term you might have heard at some point on social media or somewhere else, but what does it really mean? Many people have different definitions of it- some even think it’s a way to say that being a man is a bad thing, but that’s not really the case, Choma. So to clear the air, here’s a quick breakdown.

What does “masculinity” mean?

“Masculinity is a word used to describe something or someone who has qualities that are traditionally seen as male qualities- like physical strength, a husky voice or facial hair. But it’s important to remember that women can have all these qualities too- and it doesn’t mean that they are “manly”.

So, is all masculinity toxic?

The answer is no, Choma. Masculinity is considered toxic when it is used as a way to make those around you feel inferior or keep other males from expressing themselves in a healthier way. It is a way of thinking that tries to define what being a “real man” is, and it usually goes hand-in-hand with behaviour (that is usually seen as “manly”) that is dangerous to both men and women.

For example, have you ever heard someone say that “real men don’t cry”? This kind of mindset can be toxic because it makes people believe that it’s wrong for men and boys to express their emotions in a healthy way. This also has a lot to do with gender stereotypes, which is a mental judgement or bias about a thing or situation, based on assumed behaviour from their race, gender or even economic background.

How does it affect me?

If you’re a guy, toxic masculinity can make it hard for you to be open with your emotions, because it’s not seen as a “manly” thing to do, but the truth is that you can express your emotions, be kind and non-violent and still be man. In fact, dealing with your emotions in a healthy way actually makes you a stronger person at the end of the day. Being a “real man” is not about how physically strong you are, it’s about how much of a good person you are in your heart.

Remember this…

  • Being sensitive doesn’t make you any less of a man
  • You don’t have to be violent to show your emotions- words always work better.
  • It’s okay to feel weak sometimes
  • It’s always better to be kind
  • You don’t have to fit into society’s idea of a “real man”. Set the standard for yourself.

At the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with masculinity itself- the problem only comes in when it promotes violence and abuse as a way to be a man. Here are more articles you can read to learn more about gender issues that affect us all:

What is gender-based violence?

Mental effects of gender abuse

We’re all equal – understanding gender equality

Always remember that if you need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).