Dry Your Tears, Pull Your Skirt Down and Man Up

Toxic masculinity has been infused into every facet of our society. We have these toxic ideals taught to us, beginning in our formative years. The general family dynamic acts as the foundation of toxicity. Mothers are to be superheroes, acting as the brick and mortar in the foundation, while the father, if he’s present, acts as a watchdog.

His main function is to, with an iron fist, guard his son’s “masculinity,” a concept usually defined by sexual prowess, depth in tone and physical strength, and preserve his daughter’s “virginity,” a concept defined by how well she can abstain from her sexual urges and maintain “purity.”

Early on, boys are taught to stifle their emotions, dry their tears and stop being what society would call a “bitch,” while we teach girls to minimize their opinions outside of the desire for marriage and purity, accept responsibility for any folly transgressed against them and avoid being what society would call a “whore.”

From the home, we enter the world that simultaneously reduces a woman to a weak-minded mouthpiece for her husband, while placing sole accountability for the world’s trials on feminine shoulders. Meanwhile, a man is in the paradoxical position of being the supreme, stoic being, while also being apparently incapable of accepting responsibility for his actions because he’s “just being a man.”

This continuous dynamic of toxicity has become so commonplace that any resistance to these ideals is perceived as “man-bashing” or the “feminization” of men.

We have synched folly with the collective male identity. Because we don’t teach men to know and do better, they are under the impression that they are inherently unfavorable individuals and thus perceive attacks on toxic masculinity as attacks on general manhood.

In an interview with Michael Kimble, student affairs adviser for the Office of Black Student Achievement, he was the only person, when defining toxic masculinity, to separate toxicity from masculinity as a whole. He defines the concept as “pollutants that have tainted what true masculinity is.”

Bernard McCrary, director of Black Student Achievement, credited the perceived “monolith of manhood as toxic in and of itself.”

We expect men to be promiscuous, void of emotion and violently angry. At any point, if a man is to step outside of these parameters, he is effeminate and thus deserving of ridicule.

Perceived homoerotic advances and any suggestion of “softness,” which is considered inherently feminine, are seen as unpardonable insults to a man. Plenty of brawls and even a few murders have been rooted in simple verbal disputes.

Society sees femininity as inferior and thus serves as the greatest insult to masculinity, so it’s not surprising that toxic masculinity is rooted in misogyny, the hatred not only of women but also femininity itself.

Self-hatred also plays a strong role in toxic masculinity. Women are heavily chastised for promiscuity, infidelity, aggression and independence, behaviors for which we praise men. When we bring up this fact, it is met with responses like, “You’re supposed to be better than me,” “Why do you want to be a man” or, my favorite, “Equal isn’t identical.” Men become complacent in their toxicity and project their guilt onto the backs of women.

Toxic masculinity isn’t a curse, a gene, an insult or an attack on heterosexual males. Toxic masculinity doesn’t define the entirety of manhood but rather characterizes a flaw in our society.

Toxic masculinity has tainted our perception of how humans, particularly men, should interact, and it’s about time to ditch this regressive and unrealistic mentality. We have a responsibility to allow the next generation of men the full spectrum of emotion, accountability and nurturing.