How can we save our friends from toxic masculinity?
First off, what is toxic masculinity and why is it so… toxic? Put simply, it is the culmination of ideas or expectations about what it means to be a man, and how a man should behave. Today, stereotypes around masculinity are dissipating. Ideas of how a man should act are usually learnt from friends or family. It teaches young boys to be illusive when it comes to addressing their emotions. Hiding how they feel or going to lengths of complete denial and avoiding discussing how they feel are just a typical repercussion of this standpoint on what “male” means. So how can we save our friends from toxic masculinity?
Whether you are a man or woman, you will have seen toxic masculinity at work first hand at some point in your life. Being able to get you or your male friends to talk about it and their feelings openly is a huge step in the right direction. Most men don’t feel like they can discuss or even show how they feel due to societal stereotypes or stigmas of how they are expected to act.
In 2013 it was believed that over 78% of suicides in the UK were actually male. Not only does this show what supressing emotions can do to a person, but it reveals that modern society isn’t doing enough to address and deal with how they feel. That or it shows that we as a society, does not have the resources or support in place for when or if they attempt to reach out for support. So even just discussing things with a friend might just be what is needed to start the fight against equality when mental health and toxic stereotypes are concerned.
Look out for the signs
Signs of toxic masculinity are a bit like symptoms. For instance, someone who devalues or degrades women when they talk. Other instances of this are:
- Emotional detachment
Don’t let it dehumanise women
Terry Cruise, former NFL player and current Brooklyn 99 actor outlined recently that “people have to understand that masculinity can be a cult. There’s a lack of empathy from men who are in this so-called cult.” He spoke about how when he was a professional footballer, they would enter into strip clubs and it was whilst watching the women work he noticed that as they began to open up about their lives it humanised them and made the males in the room suddenly incredibly uncomfortable.
As much as you might hate to admit it, you too have probably been subject to, or even been a part of this cult. Even just momentarily. By working together, this toxicity might start to decline and be replaced with tolerance and acceptance. If you see it happening, address it. It is those who spend their lives groaning about what is wrong with the world that end up on the brunt end of this sort of thing, so be one of the few who have the courage to take a stand against societal norms.
To conclude, to save your friends from masculinity would be to not conform to the societal expectations regarding gender friendship and other emotional outlets.
As Ghandi once said, “you must be the change that you wish to see.”