Unless you’re remarkably detached from the surrounding world and don’t have a Twitter account, there’s a very good chance you’ve heard the term “toxic masculinity.” In the wake of Weinstein, and all the others on the exhaustive list of famous men disgraced by sexual assault allegations, the expression has been at the heart of so many public conversations.
But what is “toxic masculinity” anyway?
According to Urban Dictionary, toxic masculinity can be defined as the harmful and “socially-constructed attitudes that men are expected to be: violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, etc.” And while you’ve probably also heard the phrase ardently dismissed as a Feminist(TM) agenda to destroy #AllMen, toxic masculinity is not to be mistaken as a means to lump the identities and expressions of men into a single monolith (i.e. toxic masculine behavior is not synonymous with being a man, y’all).
“The problem isn’t about gender, genitalia or identity,” The Good Men Project explains. Instead, it’s about the dangerous actions society too often allows and dismisses because of what it “means” to “be a man.”
In a piece titled “More Men Should Learn the Difference Between Masculinity and Toxic Masculinity,” HuffPost contributor Ryan Douglass goes on to explain how toxic masculinity is built on sexual conquest and violence, “qualities men regale as manly and virtuous.”
“If sex and aggression are the measuring sticks of manhood, it’s no wonder rape education remains a conversation of what women should be doing to not get raped rather than what men should be doing, which is not raping,” he writes.
Another way to break down toxic masculinity is by examining the ways in which patriarchal society denies “unmasculine” characteristics by pressuring men to suppress “feminine” habits. For example, hobbies such as cooking and cleaning are deemed unacceptable among some men, while openly displaying vulnerability and expressing emotion are viewed as signs of weakness among others.
Examples of “toxic masculinity” used in a sentence:
- The election of the 45th president of the United States is a relevant example of how racism has joined hands with toxic masculinity to plague an entire nation’s psychology.
- Toxic masculinity is detrimental to both men and the people around them.
- Until the destructive beliefs that constitute toxic masculinity are deconstructed and eradicated, society will continue to perpetuate noxious ideals.