In the last 12 months, we have seen watershed moments in history that will change the course of patriarchal behaviour and what is deemed acceptable.
This disgusting behaviour and the subsequent coming forward of sexual assault victims to which I refer, has been so prolific that the term ‘toxic masculinity’ has been rightly applied to a large majority of the cases.
For those who are new to that terminology, journalist, Amanda Marcotte, wonderfully defines toxic masculinity when writing for Salon:
Toxic masculinity is a specific model of manhood, geared toward dominance and control. It’s a manhood that views women and LGBT people as inferior, sees sex as an act, not of affection but domination, and which valorizes violence as the way to prove one’s self to the world. Toxic masculinity aspires to toughness but is, in fact, an ideology of living in fear: The fear of ever seeming soft, tender, weak, or somehow less than manly. This insecurity is perhaps the most stalwart defining feature of toxic masculinity.
This eloquently put together definition by Marcotte sums up the paradoxical nature of what toxic masculinity is; the irony that an ego has the self-contained and possibly sub-conscious fear of what it shouldn’t be.
Part of what we (ie. everyone else) are left with is the patriarchal privilege that has no-doubt obnoxiously waltzed into human-existence since man came to be.
By using Marcotte’s definition, the only way to irradicate toxic masculinity in the world as we know it is education across the entire male population, or at least those willing to listen.
The message is simple: you can be masculine, nobody is taking masculinity away from you, but quite literally draw a line at which point masculinity has become toxic and not acceptable.
Yes, I get that many would argue that “men should already know how to behave”, which is absolutely true but quite obviously they don’t. Further proving that education is absolutely essential.
Links with male suicide rates
Male suicide rates in England are well publicised, the highest rate of suicide in the UK is men aged between 40-44, with the male suicide rates three times higher than that of females. (Source: Samaritans)
There are suggestions that toxic masculinity does impact male suicide rates and when you look at the evidence, it is hard to ignore. The stigma associated with being able to show emotion, talking openly about feelings and the overriding fear of showing weakness when in actual fact these are if anything, absolute shows of strength.
I’ve been in the situation where I’ve chosen not to talk about something horrific in my life and buried it deep, not wanting to show an apparent weakness.
I unreservedly know that I was wrong to do this; I was able to confide in amazing friends who became my support network and help me grieve and get thorugh a torrid time. I personally feel that if more men did this then it would be one step towards a less-toxic masculinity.
Finding support to enable you to release some of the emotional burdens which can take over your life and ultimately bring some to take their life.
If you feel that you need to speak to someone then I implore you to go to the Samaritans website where you can find useful links and find someone to speak to or call them on 116 123.