Toxic masculinity is a construct of patriarchy which refers to the 'normative' performances of hegemonic masculinity i.e you must like football, provide for your family etc. As with most things to do with patriarchy, this construct affects men and women alike, and is one of the reasons we see patriarchal norms as a double-edged sword.
In this day of unlearning harmful constructs and enforcing forward motion, discourse is important. This is why Twitter user @Iamforbes has sparked up a conversation about toxic masculinity, imploring the men on his timeline to talk about how it's impacted their lives negatively.
Guys, lads, men... let’s have a dialogue how has toxic masculinity negatively impacted your life?— Dictator. (@iamforbes) June 28, 2018
The responses to this tweet have been truly heartbreaking. On one very petty hand, we're a bit hesitant to feel sympathy for them as this is a result of a system they reap benefits from to the detriment of women. However on the other more reasonable hand, we know that it's a nightmare to have to succumb to what society dictates, with no regard for your own personal preferences or desires, so we fully get it.
The responses varied from boys being berated for not enjoying 'manly' activities, not being allowed/able to express emotions 'as a man' to not getting verbal shows of affection. When we talk about the harmful effects of toxic masculinity, and that men are trash, we are not just criticising men or licking wounds from past hurt, but are also calling out the patriarchal system they cling so closely to.
You know what’s REALLY tough about unlearning toxic masculinity? When executed effectively, as unfortunate as it is, it’s effective... the most dominant men you see have all these traits, that’s the hardest thing to fight/unlearn... the world rewards toxic masculinity— Dictator. (@iamforbes) June 29, 2018
So being emotionless or ruthless etc is seemingly how you “win”/get to the top.... capitalism and politics and even sports often reward the worst in us... hell even women subconsciously have been taught to like that shit or require it of us— Dictator. (@iamforbes) June 29, 2018
This conversation is important firstly because men only listen to other men, so perhaps this could be the starting point in dismantling these harmful norms and letting everyone heal. Secondly, we can then begin to pave the way for a new generation of boys/men who reject these norms.
Patriarchy hurts men as well as women by breeding selfish, violent, disrespectful, misogynistic men with no emotional depth or maturity. These men continue to pose threats to women and the LGBT community around the world and from this conversation, we can see that it's a problem for them too. We wish all of them healing, and implore them to join us in our fight against patriarchy because even though they're suffering, women have an even shorter end of the already short stick.
Check out some of the ways toxic masculinity has negatively impacted some mens' lives right here:
Bullied by my older brothers as a child because I was very feminine as a child.— Rosier (@Lestrange_Noir) June 28, 2018
Went for deliverance sessions at age 15 because I thought there was something wrong with me.
Was the subject of gossip from family members, classmates even neighbours. https://t.co/hLLsXpKzNj
I was called effeminate and gay for not having a girlfriend at 15, as most of my peers had been in multiple relationships.— Dayo (@_Abdul_Malik) June 28, 2018
My brother was seen as more “manly” because he had had girlfriends since he was 11.
Because I was gentle and sensitive, I was seen as weak. https://t.co/TUgigAG7Dq
“why do you talk so much, are you a girl” then i stopped and now i’m too mysterious :/ https://t.co/ydzCJYRukA— shopsy (@KingAfo) June 29, 2018
Because I didn’t like sports and a lot of the other fun stuff the boys liked I wasn’t exactly regarded as a boy. Till today I still struggle with making friends with guys. https://t.co/iEDcTuSiWT— Omi Tutu (@iconicDemoe) June 28, 2018
Thinking about this making me realise maybe this is the reason I’m so close to a lot of girls. Easier to open up to them, and they meet emotional needs. Never felt comfortable opening up to the mandem growing up. That changed once I got to Uni tho https://t.co/n5Tz5DHaS5— Shalom (@BayemOA) June 29, 2018
Powered through all sorts of abuse through childhood, puberty and young adulthood. Then spent my 20s pretending it never happened. Leading to a breakdown at 29/30. All because men aren't supposed to show emotion. https://t.co/RapjVJzfRl— Gorimapa. (@LGALOSTPA) June 28, 2018
Would have been easy to talk about it on here but the impact has been negatively massive. I’d feel like a weak one to share such.— Fowizzle (@fovbe) June 28, 2018
didn’t cry at my dad’s funeral because i believed that’s what real men do, spent years bottling all sorts of shit inside which in turn led to me being emotionally abusive at times in a future relationship. https://t.co/DlMgaGNiLU— blaine (@blakccboi) June 28, 2018
My step father spent most of his life looking for a son. He cheated on all five women he married. He is currently in his 60's and has a 5 year boy, a child he spent 36 years chasing. My mother insisted on keeping him in my sister's lives and as such all of us suffered. https://t.co/GeXipZp396— Lucifer (@Edgothboy) June 28, 2018
My dad never cooks because he thinks it's a woman's job. One day, he had to cook for himself but he didn't know how to turn on the stove. Instead of turning on the cooker, he turned on the oven. There was a small gas explosion. My dad nearly died because of stupid beliefs https://t.co/QIJEJrlIdk— teenage anarchit (@AaronJJSam) June 28, 2018
My mom sent me to a boarding school because a man came to our house, sat in our couch, ate our food, opened is mouth and told my mother that I was too soft, in his words, 'this one no be man'. https://t.co/h3uWWur2NB— Izuchukwu O. Udokwu (@Izuudokwu) June 28, 2018
I don't think my dad ever told me he loved me. I know he did, but he never voiced it.— Tiste Azathanai (@MallamSawyerr) June 28, 2018
I remember one time I wanted to say it to him and the words got stuck in my throat, cos I felt it was weird. https://t.co/oElVrWimh8
“Go and kill the snake, Go and lock the gate at midnight, are you not a man?” https://t.co/OAVC9zz2s5— Tobi (@TheTobiSmith) June 29, 2018
My friends got sexually abused and were hailed for it.— Chizara (@CHIZY_N) June 28, 2018
often in the past feeling like i can’t say no to a girl’s sexual advances because which man in their right mind turns down sex uno.— blaine (@blakccboi) June 28, 2018
When I was the last guy in my friend group to lose my virginity I lied to my boys I finally had sex just to stop being the butt of jokes https://t.co/7nF9jzsTV3— U'baku (@UbaSocrates) June 28, 2018
Being taught ways to emotionally and physically abuse women from a young age. Being excluded from conversation if you couldn’t add to these topics. Only knowing substances as a way to cope with stress. It goes on man.— Funmilade (@ftaiwo) June 28, 2018
Being mocked for wanting to resolve conflict with dialogue first instead of fists in an all male school— Sensei Simbul Zaddy (@Immortal_Teddy) June 29, 2018
Mocked for being chubby and not chiseled
Fed the fear that if I'm not winning all the time I'm not a man
Gave me a saviour complex