There are all kinds and types of views, philosophies and the like that people adhere to. But one that is increasingly becoming more visible, and more vocal, are those engaged in toxic masculinity.
When it comes to relationships, the views espoused by this version of male culture has the potential to be dangerous to those that adhere to these beliefs, as well as those near them. There are signs of toxic masculinity that can give you an indication if someone is following this particular version of idealized male behavior.
What is Toxic Masculinity?
Toxic masculinity is when certain ideas and behaviors related to being a "real man" get taken to the extreme. It's all about power, putting others down, and treating women badly. You know, those traditional gender roles where guys are supposed to be tough and in charge all the time? Well, toxic masculinity takes it even further. It's all about being aggressive and showing off how tough you are. These guys think they're better than everyone else and believe that being super macho is the way to go.
Control is a Key Feature in Toxic Masculinity
This philosophy of idealized male behavior stresses that men assert their dominance and power at all times. This extends into relationships as well. In a 2017 report “The Man Box” found that 34% of men in the United States believed that men should have the final word in their relationships. The study continues by stating that 46% believed that men need to know where their wife (or significant other) is at all times. And control of the female body does not end there. It comes down to dictating what women can wear, where they can go, and with whom. It also extended into diet, appearance, finances, and assorted other details.
Double Standards in Dating
Promiscuity is Praised. Men are encouraged to seek out multiple partners because it contributes to the male notion of virility and strength. While this is encouraged in men, it is vehemently discouraged in women. Women who have multiple partners are not only frowned upon; they are considered lesser women. There is no equality when it comes to this subject. There is one rule for men and another value system for women. This is a common theme to toxic male relationships: the rules are not fair or equitable.
Breaking Gender Stereotypes
Household duties are seen as the purview of women, and women only. This concept is consistent in an environment of male behavior that sees the roles of men and women as clear cut and sharply defined. It is considered effeminate for men to do household chores. Also, it is considered a poor idea to teach boys duties like cooking, cleaning, and caring for children. All of these endeavors are looked down upon and seen as of lesser importance. Such men who agree with these precepts will not engage in any duties that are not seen as exclusively masculine in nature.
Assigning household duties solely to women perpetuates gender stereotypes and restricts individuals' potential. It reinforces the notion that women's worth is tied to domestic responsibilities, while men are exempt. Challenging these outdated beliefs promotes equality, shared responsibilities, and allows individuals to pursue their passions and interests freely, regardless of gender.
The Dark Side of Hyper-Masculine Behavior
Risk taking behavior runs high in a world where being strong demands being exceedingly daring. Suppressing fear by risk taking is a hallmark feature of toxic male culture. Gambling, reckless driving, becoming intoxicated, engaging in extremely dangerous activities, and even self-harm are all trademarks of someone trying to define themselves by a hyper masculine role model. Violence can also appear in conjunction with these dangerous activities.
The Harmful Impact of Objectifying Women
Sexual aggression toward women is a common feature. Men who have been influenced by these ideas of what is supposed to be normal male behavior are likely to be verbally and physically violent towards women. They believe that they are entitled to the bodies of women and are free to use those bodies as they see fit. This leads to the harassment of women and a higher chance of believing in myths regarding rape. The element of violence towards women is a prime example of the how dangerous toxic male relationships can potentially be.
The Pressure to Suppress Emotions
Stoicism is the bedrock of toxic masculinity. Men are believed to be strong and without either emotion or weakness. To show emotions is to be weak. To do so is to also be feminine, and anything feminine in men is strictly taboo. Men are encouraged to be strong to the point of not seeking help, either medical or mental. These men are also less likely to use mental health services. The reality is that men are 1.8 times more likely than women to complete suicide. Men are expected to solve their problems on their own without outside assistance.
Navigating Conflict in Healthy Relationships
Violence is considered a tool to assert domination and even problem solving. It is also seen as a way to show masculinity and display superiority. This can also be a tool used to gain respect from others. If there is a disagreement or a problem to be solved, it is considered acceptable to “force” your point of view on others. There is no reluctance to the use of force to get things done.
Challenging Gender Equality
Misogyny is one of the tenants of this world view. Women are seen as weaker, and sometimes even the cause of male invectiveness. This movement encourages men to view women as significantly lesser than men, and therefore can be treated in disrespectful ways without consideration. From mocking appearance to aggressive behaviors, this all can directly lead to violence toward women directly and indirectly both physical and verbal.
The Impact of Prejudice on LGBTQ+ Communities
Homophobia is a telltale characteristic of a movement that places a premium on being hyper male and hyper heterosexual. LGBTQ+ people are seen as undesirable and the cause of the problems for men who believe themselves to be “real men.” This can take the form of demeaning language towards the LBGTQ+ community and can escalate easily into actual violence towards this group.
Homophobia within toxic masculinity fosters discrimination, violence, and exclusion against LGBTQ+ individuals. It enforces rigid gender roles, stigmatizes non-heteronormative behavior, and marginalizes those who don't conform. This leads to bullying, emotional distress, and limited personal freedom. Homophobia perpetuates fear and insecurity, impacting both the LGBTQ+ community and individuals who deviate from traditional gender norms. By challenging these harmful attitudes, we can foster acceptance, inclusivity, and a society that embraces diverse identities.
Pursuing Personal Growth and Success
Gaining power is another feature that may not be obvious, but it is also a core feature. This is the belief that men must be respected by others and that obtaining power and status over others is one way to secure the approval, and ultimately, the respect of others. This includes financial gain, social status or being recognized for achievements.
Understanding Toxic Masculinity Lingo
Toxic masculinity refers to harmful behaviors, attitudes, and expectations associated with traditional masculinity that can be detrimental to individuals and society as a whole. While it's important to note that not all individuals who identify as male engage in toxic masculinity, certain lingo and phrases can perpetuate these harmful ideas.
Here are several examples:
- "Man up": This phrase implies that men should suppress their emotions, not show vulnerability, and toughen up. It discourages emotional expression and promotes the idea that men should always be strong and stoic.
- "Real men don't cry": This phrase suggests that displaying emotions, particularly sadness or vulnerability, is a sign of weakness. It pressures men to suppress their feelings and maintain a tough exterior.
- "Don't be a pussy": This derogatory term is used to demean men who are perceived as weak or lacking in courage. It reinforces the idea that masculinity is tied to physical and emotional toughness.
- "Bro code": This term refers to an unwritten set of rules that supposedly govern male friendships, often prioritizing loyalty to other men above all else. It can contribute to toxic behavior by promoting secrecy, disrespect toward women, and a sense of entitlement.
- "Alpha male and Beta male": This concept is based on hierarchical notions of dominance and submission. It implies that men should strive to be dominant, assertive, and competitive, often at the expense of others. It can lead to aggressive and controlling behavior. This is a ranking system used to assess masculinity. The term originated on body building forums and used by pick up artist sites as well. There are also Beta Males. Clearly masculine men are alphas, literally the top dog, and everyone else is a beta, a lesser man.
- "High energy": High energy is a complimentary term. It is a reference to the time when Donald Trump referred to Jeb Bush as low energy.
- "No homo": This phrase is used to distance oneself from anything that may be perceived as gay or effeminate, reinforcing homophobia and the idea that masculinity is fragile.
- "Locker room talk": This phrase is often used to dismiss or excuse offensive or degrading conversations about women. It implies that such conversations are a normal part of male bonding and reinforces the objectification of women.
- "Snowflake": Snowflake is short for “special snowflake,” and is just as a pejorative to describe millennials who are seen as fragile, incapable of defending themselves, easily insulted and frail. They are seen as having been raised with the expectation they are special simply for being and awarded participation trophies without work or merit to earn them.
It's crucial to recognize that these phrases and lingo perpetuate harmful stereotypes and contribute to a culture that suppresses emotions, promotes aggression, and marginalizes certain groups. Challenging and rejecting such language is important in promoting healthier and more inclusive ideas of masculinity. Looking at terms can be helpful in identifying someone who has absorbed ideas connected to hyper masculinity. Two social media sites that are often seen as the hub for this version of masculinity taken to the extreme are 4Chan and 8Chan. If you see these groups mentioned in a dating profile, that can be a tell-tale sign that someone is interested in this extremely dangerous ideology.
Toxic Masculinity in Dating and Relationships
When it comes to dating profile sites, looking for terms like high energy and submissive can be signs of toxic masculinity at work. You also may want to look at how detailed and defined a profile may be. If someone has very exacting specifications and submission and docility are prized, that could be a red flag that toxic masculinity may be at work here in some form or fashion.
How does one know if one is starting a relationship with someone who is toxic? While all the characteristics may not be present at once, there are some strong indicators.
Someone who is monitoring your physical movements, controlling of your body, your appearance, your dress is an example of toxic masculinity in a romantic relationship. Someone who wishes to control whom you see and for how long is another indicator.
Remarks that are made that are disparaging to women, jokes, insults, and remarks about the female body that are degrading are additional sights that someone is espousing toxic masculinity in a relationship.
When the gender roles are carefully defined based on stereotypes of what is male and what is female, that is an indication you may be in a relationship with a toxic masculine man. If he happens to control your finances or see what is yours as his, that is the dominating factor coming to play.
Dealing with so many negatives, from the impact of toxic masculinity on men’s mental health to the impact this can have girlfriends, partners and significant others, toxic masculinity in relationships can have devastating outcomes. There are indicators of toxic masculinity in relationships at work. It is so important to pay attention to the signals.
Unmasking Toxic Masculinity: A Summary
As illustrated above, toxic masculinity shows itself in various ways. One sign is the belief that men should always be tough and not show emotions, as it's considered weak. Another sign is the need to assert dominance and control over others, especially women. Promoting violence as a way to solve problems is another indicator. Men who engage in risky behaviors to prove their masculinity, like dangerous stunts or substance abuse, may also exhibit toxic traits. Lastly, derogatory views towards women and homophobia are common signs. Recognizing these signs helps us challenge harmful gender stereotypes and promote healthier relationships and attitudes towards masculinity.
Thankfully, now that you know what to look for, they are easy to identify.