Please stop drinking that “koolaid.”
By “koolaid,” I mean all this “men have to be strong” and “men don’t cry” bullshit.
Please stop thinking men shouldn’t show emotion.
Or that men can never truly understand women.
Or that men and women can’t be just friends.
That men have to be in charge. Or talk down to women.
Men don’t have to always be strong. Showing emotion isn’t a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength.
It is not true that men aren’t also victims of abuse. It isn’t shameful to talk about it. In fact, we need to talk about it more.
REAL men do not always want sex. Violence IS NOT the answer to everything. Men do not need to use violence or anger to solve their problems.
Men do not need to be the dominant ones all the time. Men SHOULD be more involved in their child’s learning and development.
Your manliness is not defined by your strength, lack of emotion, self-sufficiency, dominance, or sexual virility. Falling short of society’s standards in any of these areas does not make you less of a man.
There is nothing manly about having increased aggression or sexual aggression, the need to control or dominate others, no emotion, hyper-competitiveness, the glorification of violence, no empathy, etc. It is not sexy to be a chauvinist or sexist pig.
Stop telling men to “man up.”
How about sit your ass down in therapy and GET VULNERABLE.
And “boys will be boys” is not a justification for careless, aggressive, and damaging behavior in young men. We should be teaching responsibility. Owning up to your mistakes is manly AF.
It is very important that we pay attention to how this toxic masculinity can pay a role in both our personal and professional lives.
Unchecked toxic masculinity
Toxic masculinity is teaching young boys that they are only going to gain acceptance by living up to these damaging traits and behaviors.
By not putting toxic masculinity in check, it can cause many issues, such as:
- Being disciplined in school or at work
- Challenges at school academically
- Jail or prison
- Domestic violence
- Sexual abuse and rape
- Risky and damaging behaviors
- Substance abuse
- Psychological trauma
- Lack of real friendships and genuine connections
- Feelings of inadequacy or low self-esteem
- Perception of being “less of a man”
- Negative body image
- Work place issues
Toxic masculinity in the workplace
The fact is that traditional office models are broken. The “dog-eat-dog” mentality is disgusting and no longer acceptable (not sure why it ever was).
It is important to note that not all negative behavior at work is from men specifically. Also, not all men behave in this way. However, toxic masculinity affects men and women collectively.
Toxic masculinity negatively impacts work-life balance and results in counterproductive management. When I think of a bad boss, I think of someone who doesn’t listen and is arrogant. Toxic masculinity results in the type of man that wields his power over others in an uncaring or cruel way.
Instead of ego and arrogance, we should strive for humility and empathy. Those are traits of good men. Those are traits I am proud to have.
In the workplace, these “male” traits such as arrogance and competitiveness have always positioned men as the front runners for “leadership” positions. Are we really getting the best leaders though? Toxic masculinity creates leaders who don’t really care about the people they are leading. It can also easily lead to sexual harassment in the workplace being seen as something that can just be “brushed under the rug.”
Times are changing and we are learning that we should seek leaders that have some level of emotional intelligence. We should seek to have a more feminine type of leadership. That’s not to say men cannot lead, but more empathy and less arrogance is needed.
It is also important to point out that not just men participate in these toxic masculine behaviors, such as being aggressive, domineering, competitive, and dismissive. Women can also make the workplace toxic in this way. Either way, toxic masculinity is a problem, whether the behavior is from a man or a woman.
How do we end toxic masculinity in the workplace and in society?
It isn’t too much to say that ending toxic masculinity would be revolutionary. By good men taking action against toxic masculinity, we can free the boys we are raising from its constraints. It also allows us to keep it from negatively affecting women as well, whether they are the participants in it or the victims of it.
We can start by raising awareness in and outside of the workplace. By regularly reviewing workplace behavior, we can stay on top of toxic masculinity.
It is time to move past power plays, politics, and distorted gender roles in the workplace. Honestly, it is time to move past those things in society period.
#1 Don’t be afraid to speak out.
Don’t be afraid to speak out against toxic masculinity. When men around you are talking derogatory about women or other men because of their sexual orientation (or just because), don’t be afraid to stand up against it. Stop letting toxicity spread in the workplace and in your society. It is disgusting behavior.
Stop falling into the social conditioning trap of “it’s just the way men are.” That’s not an excuse to be a sexist pig. No man is born misogynistic or homophobic. It is our duty as men as we get older to unlearn these toxic ideas about what it means to be a man.
Don’t be afraid to break the cycle.
#2 It’s time to kill the workaholic, no excuses culture.
Working excessively is not the measurement that determines whether or not you are a good employee. Every one deserves time off. In fact, it’s more important to take care of your mental health as a man than to work nonstop without any care at all for how your untreated negative behavior affects others.
I also want to point out that paternity leave is a valid reason not to come to work, not to answer emails, etc. This “man up or lose everything” mentally that still exists in some parts of the working world is repulsive and unacceptable.
Stand up to toxic bosses by going above them if necessary. The workplace is the front line of the revolution that will end toxic masculinity.
#3 We need to stop teaching boys and men not to express their emotions.
Stop humiliating boys (and men) when they are upset. They don’t need to be “toughened up.” That isn’t how you build resiliency. Resilience is actually being aware of your problems and having the ability to recover from those problems and stresses and face your fears head on. It is not suppressing your emotions.
Teaching boys and men to suppress their emotions is teaching them to limit their view and be closed-off and close-minded. Emotional resilience is feeling your feelings, understanding them, and harnessing them to make change. It is absolutely not emotional denial.
It is okay to feel whatever it is that you feel. It is admirable as a man to feel and walk through emotions. By tackling toxic masculinity, we lay a path for young boys to learn self-respect.
#4 Be vulnerable with other men.
Every Monday, I sit down with another man (my therapist) and I get vulnerable about my life. It is the most effective way to grow. Without vulnerability, how can you really grow?
There is strength in crying. There is strength in showing your emotions. We all go through emotional difficulties, whether a man or a woman. It is called being human. Open yourself up to your friends, so your friends will feel okay opening up to you.
#5 Practice kindness every day.
Even when it comes to those that continue in toxic masculinity, don’t give up on them. Be kind to everyone. Participate in nice gestures every day. People can change. We can redeem our mistakes.
We should not teach people that men cannot recover from their mistakes too. It is very manly to admit when you are wrong and try to learn and grow from it.
Be an example of a good man, so that other men stuck in this toxic masculinity trap know that it is possible.
We can be a force for positive change.
Question the way that your father and other men in your life raised you.
Question the systems of power.
Question the way society controls you through gender roles.
Question every last thought about what it means to be a man.
We must seek the answers for ourselves and take responsibility for our own manhood.
Let’s make toxic masculinity socially unacceptable!
Thank you for reading!
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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