Society has developed unrealistic expectations for men to prove their masculinity, and it is hurting them psychologically beyond repair. Toxic masculinity is an effective killer for men’s overall health, emotionally and physically, and its relevance still remains to this day. These cultural norms revolving around manhood has become a burden, hovering behind man since toddlers and stick as they age. Men are expected to shift their attitudes and create a mindset to fit into gender norms, it is what society expects of them, and failure to do so will lead to a lack of acceptance and validation of their masculinity.
Effects that coincide with toxic masculinity include, but not limited to, the influence of celebrities in the media, misogyny, mental illnesses, homicide, and the lack of emotional vulnerability in men.
Media is undoubtedly linked with toxic masculinity. In today’s society, much of media contains violence or role models displaying aggression. From rap songs to movies, there are role models that are indirectly encouraging hostile behaviors and attitudes.
Men with insecurities will see these role models and find that their built physique and violent demeanour as attainable characteristics. With large quantities of money being devoted to advertisements and media in today’s society, marketers know what they are doing to catch the attention of men. Jackson Katz explains advertising and media as such, “The need to differentiate from the feminine by asserting masculinity in the form of power and aggression might at least partially account for the ubiquity of representations of male violence in contemporary advertising” (Katz 352).
They also explain marketers try associating masculinity to the product so the man, or the consumer, will feel gravitated to the product to feel masculine. Men are influenced by the attitudes and demeanour being portrayed by the model or influencer in the advertisement because they view them as society’s ideal man and someone who may perfectly represent masculinity. This extends beyond advertising and movies, it applies to fashion models, music videos, toys, and more. Young adult men are not the only ones who this issue applies to, but younger and older men are also targeted with mainstream media.
Emotional vulnerability is another subject toxic masculinity has effected. It is viewed as feminine or not maculine enough by society’s standards and, as a result, men project emotions aggressively. Men are expected to not express healthy emotions, but instead, contain them. Loneliness results from silencing emotions, and men feel as if they have no one to turn to. Unhealthy coping mechanisms are stemmed from repressed emotions, and men turn to drugs, alcohol, pornography, and even gangs to feel a sense of unity. This mindset of boys being tough starts young, and parents care for little boys differently as they do for girls: “we begin emotionally shortchanging boys right out of the gate, at the most vulnerable point in their lives” (Holloway).
Holloway discusses the issue of parents discipling young boys harsher, because even at an adolescent age they are to act tough. And as stated by Michael Flood, Gender is the product of social forces and relations [gender] is produced through everyday interactions, family socialization, media representations, the workings of institutions, law and policy, and so on (Flood 16). Overlapping Holloway’s insight, gender is inevitably influenced by external factors which influence the way boys are to express emotion. Many are under the assumption that boys should be emotionally distant since a starting age, and it is majorly hurting them.
Women, too, are being affected by toxic masculinity. There is sexism in rap music and the way women are presented in music videos cause men to objectify them. Having an attractive girl with a beautiful body can become something of a status symbol or something men strive to have. The exposure of pornography can lead men to desensitize the acts of violence towards woman, and start mimicking the same behaviors. It demoralizes girls and can immensely impact the intimate relationship and lead to a domestic one.
Video games. These games have been vilified for their violence, for their hypersexualized depictions of women, and for isolating players from other real people (Yarrow).
Men are expected to prove they are manly, and their gender identity alone will not suffice if they do not meet society’s standards of being a man. This cultural norm of toxic masculinity remains relevant to this day, and it is unfortunate there are men who remain to have trauma from that. Toxic masculinity is and will proceed to kill men if there is not more awareness brought up to the issue.
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