Columns, Opinion

Modern Musings: It’s time to start believing women and taking toxic masculinity more seriously

Women warned you about the dangers of toxic masculinity.

Women warned you that toxic masculinity fills young boys’ brains with the idea that they must be macho, domineering and emotionless. Women warned you that it gives them an unwarranted feeling of superiority. We warned you that later in life, this translates to a sense of entitlement: to power, money and, perhaps most dangerously, to women’s bodies.

We warned you that perpetuating patriarchal ideas leads to domestic abuse, sexual assault and even mass shootings — but who listened?

Men who have abused power and other people have been allowed to remain in power — as Hollywood executives, as Supreme Court justices, as presidents of the United States — and toxic masculinity has lived on.

Toxic masculinity has increasingly been taken more seriously, perhaps because it is Women’s History Month. Perhaps because of a FiveThirtyEight article published last September about the correlation between toxic masculinity and sexual assault that has started making the rounds on social media again.

Perhaps because of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Minding the Gap,” which follows three male friends as they try to recover from the childhood abuse they endured at the hands of the father figures in their lives.

Whatever has propelled this topic to the fore, there is currently a wider discussion about how toxic masculinity plays a role in our society and how it is detrimental not only to women but to men, too.

It’s disappointing, however, that people seem to only be picking up on the effects of toxic masculinity now that the topic is finally being addressed by men and psychologists  — especially since women have been trying to voice their experiences with it all along.

We’ve tried to explain that alcohol cannot be solely responsible for sexual assault, and that sober men assault women, too. We’ve tried to speak out about our experiences with sexual assault and have been labeled liars begging for attention, and our abusers often continue merrily on with their lives.

We’ve pointed out that most of the perpetrators of mass shootings are men and shown there is damning evidence of a connection between mass shootings and domestic violence. Yet some people continue to point to other factors that cause these tragedies, not acknowledging the role the patriarchy has played.

We’re used to not being heard or believed, and so it kind of feels like a joke that there is now “evidence” that toxic masculinity is indeed toxic. Don’t our daily experiences with catcalls, unwanted advances and misogynistic and belittling comments sufficiently show that we are not being taken seriously?

Finally, the realization of toxic masculinity as an actual problem is underway. Now that the topic has begun to be taken seriously and isn’t written off as some hyperbolic buzzword thrown about by women, hopefully our voices will be elevated and paid more attention to in the future.

Now that toxic masculinity is being addressed by men themselves, there’s also hope that future generations of young men won’t have to grow up in a society that defines their “manliness” in terms of sex, wealth and power and where they are considered “real men” if they are aggressive, domineering and emotionless.

A society rid of toxic masculinity would be a more equal society for women, who wouldn’t be subjected to so much of the brutality that goes along with toxic masculinity. It would also allow young men to be more free with who they are.





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