Toxic masculinity is a cultural concept of manliness that glorifies stoicism, strength, virility, and dominance, and that is socially maladaptive or harmful to mental health. Men and women both suffer due to toxic masculinity as the concept itself can be traumatizing. This term is usually used in the media and academic, talking about the harmful and traumatizing expectations that are generally associated with cultural and gender norms.

Toxic masculinity exists when men think that they have to live by self-reliance and suppress all of their emotional waves from the world and must be active, aggressive, tough, daring, and dominant. The concept has been criticized by few conservatives as “an excessive condemnation of traditional masculinity”, but a lot of feminists are in support of this concept as they say that it is violating the role of choice. This concept of toxic masculinity does not condemn men or male attributes, but rather emphasizes the harmful effects of conformity to certain traditional masculine ideal behaviors such as dominance, self-reliance, and competition.

According to social learning theory, teaching boys to suppress vulnerable emotions, as in the saying “big boys don’t cry”, is a significant part of gender socialization in Western society. Especially with the men in prison, they are supposed to be tough, angry and aggressive all the time but it they show their soft side they are named ‘feminine‘, to which men usually resemble it to ‘weakness’. Those men happened to get bullied to harsh extends that they end up taking their own lives. This has been very common in the western prison life.

The gender norms such as emphasizing toughness, dominance, self-reliance, and the restriction of emotion are usually adopted by male from their infancy by parents, other male relatives, and members of the community. According to a psychologist Ronald F Levant, traditionally prescribed masculine behaviors can produce harmful effects including violence (including sexual assault and domestic violence), promiscuity, risky and/or socially irresponsible behaviors including substance-use disorders, and dysfunction in relationships. The effect tends to be stronger in men who also emphasize “toxic” masculine norms, such as self-reliance, seeking power over women, and sexual promiscuity.

Article by : Haniah Mirza

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