It’s our responsibility as we become adults to acknowledge this pain and gain compassion for ourselves and acceptance of others. But for men in particular, when the patriarchy says that it’s OK to grab a woman’s ass, or tell her what to do, or watch too much porn or deny her space – and you accept this as a way of treating another human being – you deny yourself the opportunity to understand why you desired that comfort of power in the first place. The ego wants dominance and control. And the male ego is currently everywhere.
As far as I can see, this toxic notion of masculinity is being championed by men who are so terrified of confronting any trauma experienced as children that they choose to project that torture on to the lives of others rather than themselves.
What’s even more upsetting is that often when men allow themselves to feel this pain, it’s so new to them that they kill themselves. We live in a society where men feel safer killing themselves than acknowledging pain. Accepting the patriarchy from a place of false benefit will prevent you from ever truly loving yourself or understanding others. It’s OK to feel sad. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to have loved your mum and dad growing up. It’s OK to have missed them or wanted more affection. It’s OK to take a moment when you’re reminded of these truths. When you allow your brain to access these emotions, it knows exactly what to do. So nurture yourself. Talk honestly to the people around you, and welcome the notion of understanding them more than you have ever done before.
Toxic masculinity is one of the ways in which Patriarchy is harmful to men. It refers to the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculinegender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth.
I was reading Paging Dr Nerd Love on the tube during the time I was in London for Mozfest (blog post coming soon), I actually missed my stop by one. I was engrossed in listening and reminded me of the blog post I wrote a while back about Toxic masculinity.
There is so much to say but here’s some of the key parts…
It’s ok to talk about women this way, as long as women don’t overhear it. It’s guy talk, meant for other guys and thus women shouldn’t be offended. The problem isn’t what Trump said, it’s that what he said escaped the privacy of the “locker room.” Nobody should take it seriously, because it’s not that big of a deal. And besides, women shouldn’t be shocked; all guys talk like that. Right? Right?
The constant refrain of “it’s guy talk” diminishes the impact of what’s being said. It turns the description of sexual assault into mischievous behavior by a puckish rascal, something we should find charming in a roguish sort of way. The chuckles and encouragement offered by Stern normalizes, even encourages, this behavior. Insisting that “all” guys are like that is part of how we excuse the behavior with a knowing laugh and a wink. Boys will be boys after all. Of course guys are going to act like this. Everyone knows that guys are dogs.
It absolves men of any responsibility for their action or the need to control themselves. After all, it’s just “how we are”. And in doing so, we teach others that this expected, even desirable behaviour among men. After all, how awesome is it that this guy just goes up and starts kissing beautiful women? Who among us wouldn’t want to do just that? Why shouldn’t we try to get as much action as we can?
I recently one night was talking to a few people during Mozfest and made reference to the quote from Hackers (yeah it comes to something when you are quoting hackers), but its stuck with me for many years.
Unfortunately it seems a large number of men want to over-ride their evolutionary process; and like Dr Nerd Love points out… Why wouldn’t they try to get as much action as they can?
There’s a lot more interesting points but the one which really got me was the confronting toxic behaviour. Its something I have tried to do but sometimes its really hard, so bloody hard. I don’t tell men that I approve but as Dr Nerd Live says…
Everything that isn’t a refutation becomes validation
That ongoing silence from others serves to isolate people who disagree. You don’t necessarily want to speak up only to find yourself alone with your metaphorical dick flapping in the wind. This is why it’s so important for men to speak out – not just publicly but in those “male-only” spaces where men like this assume that everyone agrees. Open dissent sends a message, not just to the assholes but to the others around you – they’re not alone. They have support. They can speak up too. And those men, once empowered, signal to others that they aren’t the minority.
Just as importantly, it sends a message to other men that they don’t have to pay lip service to bullshit ideas of manhood. It encourages men to be better, instead of allowing the default state of man to be “asshole”.
I need to personally, be better at cutting off toxic behaviour and calling attention to the nonsense. We all do! In the Dr Nerd Love’s words…