At the beginning of the year, a commercial by Gillette created a massive shitstorm. The spot was intended to encourage men to live together peacefully, with healthy emotional behavior and solidarity: “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” was the slogan. 1.5 million dislikes have proven that our society is permeated with toxic masculinity.
What is Toxic Masculinity?
I wondered why I have never dealt more intensively with the concept of toxic masculinity, because I encounter it constantly and everywhere. What is toxic masculinity? Well, for example, with my longtime friend, who conceals his homosexuality even after 37 years before his family. Or in a conversation with another good friend: He thinks that men cannnot be raped. After all, they would always want and be able to have sex. Was I so preoccupied with the struggle for equality in my own sex that I underestimated this stereotypical image of masculinity as another engine of the damaging patriarchal system?
Masculinity vs Toxic Masculinity
It is high time to take a closer look at the concept of toxic masculinity or toxic masculinity. It includes a social image of masculinity after men are not allowed to show emotion or weakness, fears and worries are also taboo subjects. Supposedly strong characteristics such as rivalry and dominance, however, are recognized as desired male behavior. These conservative ideas of men are usually associated with a degrading behavior towards women.
Toxic Masculinity Examples: Old behavior in a new guise
The term “toxic masculinity” may seem new, but it is by no means a new phenomenon. The social science view has recently gained seriousness through feminist currents and social debates like #metoo, but machismo has always existed. The macho, who has to prove his masculinity at every opportunity, not only plays the main role in every second blockbuster. He feels just as comfortable in the executive suites of large corporations, sits at the head of the table at many family celebrations and occupies the political top positions of this world – yesterday and today and probably also tomorrow.
Toxic masculinity psychology – the problem that harms us all
It does not take a degree in psychology to realize that suppressed emotions and illusory, over-hyped demands are detrimental to a healthy personality. The failure to recognize one’s own limits and the limits of others, a pathological attitude towards one’s own body, addiction and depression as well as suicidal behavior can all be consequences of toxic masculinity. It is subtle yet profound. The extent of this is not limited to the damage to the individual, but expands as an overall social burden. Suppressed needs and fears can be the catalyst for aggression and violence.
Time to act: a new image of a man needs the land
Now that we realize that toxic masculinity is having a bad impact on all genders and all members of society, there is time to look for solutions. We should acknowledge that this unrealistic male image is a structural problem. It also means that the responsibility lies with each person equally. We should encourage each other to speak openly about emotions and fears, regardless of gender. Let us be role models for the generations after us! Educate your children to tolerant, courageous people with real emotions! Show your children how equality works and how good a diverse society is!
If I should have painted a very gloomy picture of a man, I would not like to leave it unmentioned, because they exist – the feminists, the sensitive fathers, the sensitive types, the modern men.