toxic masculinity

[tox-sik mas-kyuh-lin-i-tee]

What does toxic masculinity mean?


"Be a man. Only girls cry." This saying is an example of toxic masculinity, cultural expectations and standards of aggressive male behavior that are harmful not only to women and society but also to men themselves.

Examples of toxic masculinity


Examples of toxic masculinity

boys who are not afraid of loving feminine things and who don’t associate with toxic masculinity r the best type of men

@glitteryybutt, June, 2018
The findings of a new study on men's and women's eco-friendly habits suggest "toxic masculinity" takes on an astonishingly literal meaning when it comes to men's impact on the environment.
Marie Solis, Mic, September, 2016
I will not name these vile, violent men – not just because this would give them the recognition they wanted, but because it’s unhelpful. Instead, we need to name the real culprit: toxic masculinity...Toxic masculinity is what entitles a man to take a weapon and take other people's lives in the name of his values.
Janey Stephenson, The Independent, July, 2016

Where does toxic masculinity come from?

The term toxic masculinity originated during the late 1980s as part of something called the Mythopoetic Men’s Movement.

A response to feminism, this movement sought to contrast ideals of masculinity seen as toxic (social pressures to be dominant, aggressive, and independent) with deep masculinity (a more natural, in-touch-with-oneself maleness and more fully developed male-male relationships). The term toxic masculinity also appeared in psychological circles in the late 1980s investigating feminism and masculinity through Freudian and Jungian perspectives.

Toxic masculinity is loosely defined as masculine traits and ways of thinking or behaving that negatively impact both men and society as a whole. More extreme, obvious examples include misogyny and homophobia but it takes more insidious forms like a need for dominance, fear of showing weakness, performative violent tendencies, sexual entitlement and aggression, and controlling behavior.

Toxic masculinity has been tied to the concept of the patriarchy (control of society by men) and often stands opposed to social justice efforts like gender, racial, and income equality. 

The term and concept rose to social prominence in 2016 during the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, who was criticized for exemplifying many of the worst aspects of toxic masculinity and encouraging it among his supporters, whether in rallies or alt-right corners of Reddit. Instances include his bragging about committing sexual assault (his infamous “grab them by the pussy remarks” excused as “locker-room talk”), demeaning women with slurs (calling his opponent Hillary Clinton “a nasty woman”), and fixating on his own prestige and putting down others (boasting he knew more about ISIS than seasoned military generals do). 

Following Trump’s election, toxic masculinity became the focus of much public discussionand scrutinyas a result of the #MeToo movement in late 2017, in which scores of women came forward to reveal their sexual harassment and assault at the hands of powerful men in their lives, such as employers, executives (e.g., Harvey Weinstein), colleagues (e.g., Matt Lauer), friends, and family.

Toxic masculinity is considered a major factor of rape culture, promoting the sexual and professional abuse of women by men. 

Who uses toxic masculinity?

In popular contexts, toxic masculinity is often cited as “ruining” a group activity or a social experience, making a positive experience more exclusionary toward women and hostile to everyone.

Toxic masculinity is also commonly discussed in debates about racial prejudice, as differences in social privilege and cultural background can create variations of toxic masculinity.

One effort to combat toxic masculinity involves teaching men and boys that emotionally vulnerable behavior (crying, asking for help, admitting defeat) is healthier than toxic masculine behavior.

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