We’ve all seen this term “toxic masculinity” being used on social media and in everyday speech, but what exactly is it?
Toxic Masculinity is a term used to describe the exaggerated masculine behaviour that some men display and the negative impact it has on those around them. However, the term is evolving as we learn and unlearn social behaviours.
An example of toxic masculinity would be the idea that in order to be considered a real man you should not display any emotion other than anger and dominance. We see this with both Sol and Kabelo in MTV Shuga where they use violence against Tsholo and Dineo to assert themselves.
Here are three things we all need to know about toxic masculinity.
- It’s harmful to both men and women
With toxic masculinity there’s an overemphasis of trying to live up to these standards of what a real man is - as defined by society. A lot of men struggle to live up to these standards and expectations and it causes imbalances in their lives.
Many men who display toxic behaviour are also depressed - they try to shut off from emotions not deemed ‘manly’, and often try to cope through methods such as over-working, substance abuse, and by expressing their anger towards those around them.
Sol is deeply unhappy at home. This is very evident in his relationship with his father as each wants to show their dominance - Sol is violent with his sister and Tsholo, and Sol’s father is violent with his Mom. It’s safe to say that Sol growing up in an environment like that, was bound to believe that is how a ‘real man’ behaves.
Wasiu also struggles to deal with his emotions because he grew up with the idea that men should not show them. However, Ebi shows him the error in his way of thinking and helping him take positive steps in fixing the issues he has.
2. It’s probably been embedded in your culture since the day you were born.
As a guy, think of how many times you’ve been told to “man up” when you’ve shown emotions?
As such, toxic masculinity can only be ‘fixed’ if people are open to unlearning old behaviours and learning new ones. We need to also understand that not everyone subscribes to the same idea of what it means to be masculine.
3. You might not know you have toxic traits
Most people who show traits of toxic masculinity have grown up around it. This is why we should be open to learning from others because we can learn how our behaviour may have been toxic towards others even if it was not intentional.
Toxic masculinity limits our growth and closes us off to many experiences. It starts with kindness and wanting to learn. Speak to your friends or partners and ask if you have displayed any behaviours that may be linked to toxic masculinity. You’ll be surprised, you may have behaviours that are so normal to you that you do not view them as toxic.
What’s your definition of masculinity? If you take a step back - can you see any negativity attached to it? How would you re-define it?