A Gentleman’s Approach to Feminism is a weekly column from Journalist Walter Yeates. This column will mostly focus on women’s rights and other news which affect women around the world. The column returns after a short hiatus.
Toxic masculinity is something that is a curse to both men and women, however, for many young men, it’s difficult to know how to effectively combat this harmful expression of masculinity. There are several definitions of toxic masculinity, therefore it’s important to establish exactly the behavior I am referring to.
Defining Toxic Masculinity
While there are some issues with defining toxic masculinity as a whole in this article, this portion provides a clear definition:
To clarify, “masculinity” in this context refers not to men’s innate traits, but to the cultural construction of manhood. When we talk about the harmful effects of toxic masculinity, we are not criticizing men, but are calling out the unfair standards imposed upon them.
Toxic masculinity extends to certain tropes like saying “man up” and “grow some balls” whenever a male is showing normal human emotions or may disagree with societal norms. This form of masculinity has nothing to do with being a man, and everything to do with being an emotionless robot with alarming social opinions including:
- Loving sex, but not really liking women.
- Violence is the way “men” solve problems.
- Dominance over women.
- Believing that they are entitled to success due to their gender.
- Labeling men who don’t subscribe to this mindset as “Beta.”
Honestly, this is not just prevalent in Western culture — as many claim — this mindset can be found in many Eastern cultures as well, meaning men around the world are being programmed to act this way. My work and advocacy on helping to help young men to become a Modern Day Gentleman extend far beyond the borders of the United States.
How To Combat Toxic Masculinity
The best way to combat toxic masculinity and those who excuse the cultural mindset is simple. Anytime you see it being displayed online or in the physical world, denounce it. This does not mean you actively search through Facebook and Twitter looking to get into a verbal argument. This is especially important for millennial men who understand that being a gentleman has nothing to do with having a toxic mindset.
In the physical world, it’s more of a challenge to stand up to toxic masculinity. However, if you see a group of guys harassing women, speak up and say something. Especially, if you are on a college campus where there is a systemic problem with sexual assaults.
Am I asking you to get into physical altercations? No, just simply say, “Hey, that’s not cool” or something similar to defuse the situation — even if it’s your friends who are making the comments. Sure, you may be attacked for being in the “friend zone” or other terms may be thrown your way, but these are signs that the guy (or guys) is insecure and doesn’t know/ignores healthy ways to express being a man.
In my next column, I will break down an article I recently came across that excuses toxic masculinity, while denouncing programs that attempt to correct the societal construct which developed this damaging mindset.
Being an advocate for the Modern Day Gentleman and a feminist means that it is important to unpack these articles and break them down.
It’s time that men use their voice to build a healthier society for young men and women, so they don’t have to face unnecessary hardships.
Read the previous Gentleman’s Approach To Feminism here.