A few days ago, I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw the above meme.
I was taken aback by this post for one main reason: nothing about this meme was accurate.
From this post, and after reading the comments, I came to one conclusion. There is a general confusion about the term “toxic masculinity.” So what exactly is toxic masculinity?
Gillette recently released an ad, related to the #MeToo movement, calling out toxic masculinity. Now, there has been some backlash for this commercial, especially from the male population, stating that Gillette was trying to emasculate men. There have been calls to boycott Gillette for supposedly not supporting men. In fact, #boycottgillette is a trending hashtag on Twitter, with posts such as the following comment by @MattVonOz, “@Gillette Don’t tell me how to be a man #boyswillbeboys #boycottgillette,” or this tweet by @neilrmciver, “#toxicmasculinity built, defends, and maintains western liberal democracy and society.” @JimWill41645866 tweeted “If you’re going to shave, shave like a man and not a snowflake! #boycottgillette.”
Personally, I believe that this commercial is amazing, and just what the nation needed to see. It referenced bullying, the idea that “boys will be boys,” and sexual harassment of women. This is toxic masculinity. This type of masculinity believes that men should not show emotion, because emotion is weakness. Boys need to toughen up. It is okay to prey on the weaker, male or female, through bullying or sexual harassment.
As the backlash of the commercial stated, are we being too sensitive to the idea of masculinity? Are we making a big fuss out of nothing? The answer is no. Toxic masculinity has hurt too many people. Right off the bat, we can think about all of the women who have been affected. It is because of toxic masculinity and the idea that it is okay to harass women that we heard Trump’s locker room talk in 2017 and it received no consequences. It is because of this idea that Brett Kavanaugh, Supreme Court Judge, sexually harassed women and still came out on top, even with all the evidence. It is because of this that so many women experience domestic violence and the horror that accompany it.
Women are not the only ones who are negatively impacted by toxic masculinity. Boys, and men, experience hardships every day because of it. Boys feel the pressure to be tough, unemotional, and “masculine.” Those who rise to this “challenge” often end up bullies as boys, and suffer worse consequences as they enter to real world. Those unable to be tough are the bullied. They experience emotional trauma every time they are subjected to the bullying. What is worse is that after the trauma, they are expected to hold it all inside them, which of course builds up and hurts them so much more.
Since I started this post because of a post showing a marine, I will also talk about the army. First, to clear up any confusion about toxic masculinity in the army, toxic masculinity and the army do not go hand-in-hand. It is possible to serve in the army without having the “toxic masculinity complex.” Also, so many of those who serve the nation in the army, men and women alike, are hurt by the belief in toxic masculinity. These men and women are affected by PTSD and other disorders. Yet, they, especially the men, will insist that they are fine. They are men and do not need help or counseling. This is problematic because these disorders are serious and are best helped with treatments and counseling. Because of toxic masculinity, however, they do not want to seek help. They protect us, but we are not willing to protect them, because it would mean sacrificing toxic masculinity? This is wrong.
Gillette made a daring move when they released that commercial, but I think it was a shock that the nation needed. While many men’s toxic masculinity was hurt by the commercial, significantly more men, and women, have been hurt by that same toxic masculinity. It’s time to put an end to these twisted concepts, and embrace a world of less hate and hurt.
Written by Guest Contributor Annie Small