What Is Toxic Masculinity?

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Toxic masculinity refers to cultural pressure on men to behave a certain way. And it’s likely that this affects all boys and men in some way.

Toxic masculinity refers to the view that some people’s “masculine” ideas will perpetuate dominance, homophobia, and aggression.

This idea that men need to act tough and avoid showing any emotion can harm their mental health and can have serious consequences for society, that’s how it is called. is “toxic masculinity”.

What is toxic masculinity?

Toxic masculinity isn’t just about behaving like a man. Instead, it involves extreme pressure that some men may feel to act in ways that are actually harmful.

There are many definitions of “toxic masculinity” popping up in research as well as popular culture. Some researchers have agreed that toxic masculinity has three core components:

  1. Reliability: This is the view that men should be physically strong, emotionally callous, and behaviorally aggressive.
  2. Countervailing: This has to do with the idea that men should reject anything that is perceived as female, such as expressing feelings or accepting help.
  3. Power: This is the assumption that men must strive for power and status (social and financial) so that they can earn the respect of others.

Celebrate unhealthy habits

Toxic masculinity celebrates unhealthy habits. There is a view that “women take care of themselves” and that men should treat their bodies like machines by skipping sleep, exercising even when injured, and pushing themselves to their physical limits.

In addition to pushing themselves physically, toxic masculinity discourages men from seeing a doctor.

A 2011 study found that men with the strongest beliefs about masculinity were half as likely as men with more moderate beliefs about masculinity to receive preventive health care.For example, see your doctor for an annual physical, contrary to some men’s beliefs about flexibility.

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In addition to avoiding preventive treatment, toxic masculinity also encourages maladaptive behaviors.

A 2007 study found that the more men adhere to masculinity norms, the more likely they are to engage in risk behaviors, such as heavy drinking, tobacco use, and avoidance of food. vegetable. In addition, they are more likely to consider such risky choices “normal”.

Stigma about mental health

Toxic masculinity also discourages men from getting mental health treatment. Problems with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and mental health problems can be considered weaknesses.

A 2015 study found that men with a traditional view of masculinity had a more negative attitude toward seeking mental health services than those with a more flexible gender attitude.

Toxic masculinity can also emphasize that men are not suitable for talking about their feelings. Avoid talking about issues or feelings that can increase feelings of isolation and loneliness.

This can increase feelings of loneliness. It can also reduce men’s willingness to reach out and get help when they have a mental health problem.

Race, Ethnicity and Gender

A man’s race and ethnicity can play a role in how he perceives masculinity as well as how others perceive him.

A 2013 study found that among white college students, Asian-American men were perceived as less masculine than white or black American men.

The requirement of masculinity to maintain rigor and be a good service provider can lead to “John Henryism” in African-American men. The term is used to describe men who use high effort as a way to deal with problems and who continue to do so in the face of chronic stress and discrimination. A 2016 study linked “John Henryism” to an increased risk of hypertension and depression.

The 2015 National School Climate Survey found that 85% of LGBTQ+ students reported being verbally harassed at school because of their gender expression or sexual orientation.

Gender nonconforming students reported being treated worse than children who conformed to traditional gender norms and identified as LGBTQ+.

Helping behavior

Men who consider themselves more masculine are less likely to engage in what researchers call “helping behaviour”. That means they are not likely to intervene when they witness bullying or when they see someone being assaulted.

A 2019 study found that toxic masculinity can prevent men from comforting victims, calling for help, and standing up for perpetrators. Men who supported the belief that men must be strong and aggressive were more likely to perceive the negative social consequences associated with intervening as a positive bystander.

In cases of sexual assault, for example, men who most identified with masculine behaviors were less likely to stop the assault behavior. Research shows that men will intervene in any conflict if they think their reputation as traditionally masculine could be damaged.

Principles of APA

Over the years, the American Psychological Association (APA) has begun to recognize that the social pressure placed on men can have dire consequences for individuals as well as for society.

APA members have created new guidelines for psychological practices for boys and men to help address some of the issues associated with toxic masculinity.

Based on more than 40 years of research, they suggest that traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful. They also reported that boys socializing to repress their emotions creates hurt, both internally and externally.

The researchers found that when they removed stereotypes and cultural expectations, there was not much difference in basic behaviors between men and women. Time-diary studies (studies where participants keep a diary of their activities) show that men enjoy taking care of children just as much as women.

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Differences in emotional expression between boys and girls are relatively small and not always patterned. For example, a 2013 study found that adolescent boys actually display fewer external emotions such as anger than adolescent girls.

The new APA guidelines were created to help psychologists assist men in breaking masculine norms that do more harm than good.

Get advice from the Very Good Mind Podcast

Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and Therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares the value of clearly defining what it means to be a man, with author and actor Justin Baldoni.

By the hour: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts / RSS

A very good word

If you feel you are experiencing the negative effects of toxic masculinity, reach out to someone. A mental health professional can help you realize how it affects your life and help you break free of unhealthy stereotypes that can keep you stuck.

The more people learn about toxic masculinity and the more people get help about it, the more likely we are to notice large-scale changes because society can create less pressure. more force on men to act in a certain way.

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