Psychiatrist Terry Kupers (2005) defined toxic masculinity as “the constellation of socially regressive male traits that serve to foster domination, the devaluation of women, homophobia, and wanton violence”.
Masculine traits that are considered ‘toxic’ include:
- Using or threatening violence.
- Controlling others.
- Acting aggressively.
- Suppressing emotions.
- Trying to appear ‘tough’
- Treating sex as a competition.
- Feeling entitled to sex from others.
- Using power over women, ‘weaker’ men, and marginalised groups.
When you’re talking about toxic masculinity, it really comes down to the way males are brought up. They way they’re taught to be strong and quiet; which is dysfunctional in many ways. The pressures that come with toxic masculinity deters men to have a healthy mental health because they are supposed to appear tough, suppress emotions, etc. be manly, which accordingly means to never address mental health issues such as depression, stress, among others.
Statistics 📈 however prove that men succumb to depression, suicide more than women & the sad part is less men open up about issues concerning their mental health. Major cause why this is so is how men were brought up, to toughen up and suppress emotions even if it causes more harm.
Men are more likely to underreport symptoms of depression and drug use is often a maladaptive coping strategy, which however does not solve the underlying issues but cause more harm in the long run.
Accordingly, highly sensitive men are the antidote to toxic masculinity. They are a guiding light that proves men can — and should — be thoughtful, considerate, and empathetic members of society. Men who understand and embrace their emotions know that feelings do not make them weak, but strong and healthy. And these men can be raised, moulded if the society stops exerting toxic expectation on men based on their gender.
There is a need to embrace men as human beings with emotions. They feel hurt, get stressed, get depressed, can feel low, etc. they also need to be heard and it is okay for them not to be okay. Men can also require therapy services and that do not make them any less of men. They can talk about their feelings and emotions too.
Untreated mental health conditions can lead to high-risk behaviors including substance abuse, gambling and other forms of addiction. Unheeded emotional problems can also cripple a man’s ability to fully function in society and within his family, and can even lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts. Question now is can we sit and watch or we take action and make the world a safe place for men to express their feelings? Men mental health matters too.
We cannot keep perpetuating and spreading toxic masculinity ideas. It damages boys, it damages girls as well, and it harms the societal morals.Joanna Henderson, 2020.