Masculinity is an expression of traits that are generally exhibited by men. Society has a strict view of masculinity, thereby causing men being expected to display strength, confidence, ambition, leadership and similar traits. Masculinity is typically described in three main ways; healthy, toxic, and hyper masculinity. Healthy masculinity has a positive impact on a man and society, toxic masculinity has a negative impact on a man and society and hyper masculinity is an extreme expression of toxic masculinity.
Healthy masculinity is an expression of being a man that has a positive impact on a man and society. Healthy masculinity is based on a man’s mental, social and physical well-being. A man who exhibits healthy masculinity mentally will maintain their mental health and develop and maintain his sense of self through spirituality or religion. A man who exhibits healthy masculinity socially will work to develop and maintain healthy relationships with people. He would not exude those traits to enforce dominance over others. Men are expected to have strength therefore men who exhibits healthy masculinity physically will consistently exercise and eat a nutritious diet to maintain their physical strength. This helps society when physical strength is needed to solve problems like helping a neighbor remove a fallen tree after a storm or helping someone push his or her broken car off the road.
Toxic masculinity is an expression of being a man that has a negative impact on a man and society. Toxic masculinity is based on the idea that a man should always display strength no matter how it affects a man’s well-being or the well-being of the people a man interacts with. This leads to men holding in their emotions, being reluctant to ask for help, and abusing sex with women.
The emotions of sadness and fear are typically suppressed in men because sadness and fear portray lack of strength in men. According to Weiss, “patriarchal beliefs/toxic masculinity create contexts insisting boys/men not show emotion.” When people display sadness, they may express sadness by crying. When people cry, they display to everyone around them that something is deeply affecting them. Men do not want their tears to show because they do not want their feelings to show a sign of weakness to others. When people show fear in a situation, they demonstrate to everyone around that they are worried about something bad, or they do not have courage in their situation. Men do not want to fear to show that they are not strong enough to face the situation they are in. Also, it is important to not conceal emotions because holding in emotions can lead to stress which takes a toll on a person’s body.
Another product of toxic masculinity is men being reluctant to ask for help. Men can interpret help as a sign of weakness because they cannot solve their problems on their own which shows lack of strength. Help is necessary for humans. Ever since we were born, we needed help from our parents, family, and community to survive everyday life and grow as a person. For example, when a baby is born, the baby is dependent on the help it receives from its parents for food, shelter, and cleanliness. Another example of not asking for help that has a negative impact on men is men not seeking mental health resources. According to Weiss, “Mental health stigma and toxic masculinity make it extremely difficult for men to acknowledge that they need help or seek it out.” Reluctance to help can be detrimental to a person’s mental health which can lead to damaging consequences to a person and the people him or her interacts with on a daily basis.
One of the most devasting effects of toxic masculinity is how it leads men to abuse sex with women. Toxic masculinity perpetuates the notion of sex increasing a man’s value. This leads to men seeking out sex for status. A consequence of this is men engaging in rape. Men can overwhelm women with their strength and rape to seek out sex. Toxic masculinity can also encourage unhealthy sexual relations. For example, there was an inappropriate sexual relationship between a teacher and her 13-year-old student (O’Malley 5). According to O’ Malley, “not surprisingly, comment after comment about this story follows the same pattern: “hot for a teacher”, “I wish I could go back to high school”, and “lucky son of a b*tch.” The comments from this incident endorsed the relationship even though the boy was not old enough for a sexual relationship and the teacher was out of line for having sexual relations with boy.
Hyper masculinity is an extreme expression of toxic masculinity. Hyper masculinity takes toxic masculinity to a higher level which leads to devastating outcomes to society. An example of this can be drawn from the rape case of Brock Allen Turner (O’ Malley). This case highlights a combination of hypermasculinity with white male privilege. Brock Tuner was arrested for raping an intoxicated woman (O’ Malley). The judge in the case “sentenced him to six months in a county jail” because “a prison sentence would have had a severe impact on him (O’Malley).” Brock Tuner’s father had the audacity to write a letter of how the consequences of his son’s actions were too harsh and negatively affected Brock even though he raped a woman. (O’Malley). In his letter he stated, “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action (O’ Malley).” Rape is one of the most catastrophic actions a person can do upon another. Victims of rape suffer for years with psychological damage. It is unfortunate how hyper masculinity influenced the judge and Tuner’s father causing them to dismiss the brutality of the rape and how it negatively affected the victim in order to help save Tuner from consequences of his action.
Toxic masculinity is very harmful for both men and women. For men, toxic masculinity causes unnecessary stress on men. Toxic masculinity causes men to internalize their emotions which leads to stress. It causes men to be reluctant to ask for help. Help can destress many different types of situations. Also, toxic masculinity can put pressure on men to have a muscular body and be pressured to have sex with women. For women, toxic masculinity makes women vulnerable. Men can be inclined to assert dominance over women to show their strength. In addition, toxic masculinity also objectifies women as sexual objects and adds fuel to rape culture.
Feminism can be useful in fighting toxic masculinity. In essence, feminism is equality and equity for all the sexes. This would lead to certain traits to not define a particular sex. Toxic masculinity influences men to stay away from displaying traits stereotypically depicted by women. Men would be able to express any trait without worrying about their manhood being challenged. Also, men would be able to show their emotions or ask for help without the judgement of toxic masculinity.
In conclusion, healthy masculinity has a positive impact on a man and society. Toxic masculinity has a negative impact on a man and society. Hyper masculinity is an extreme expression of masculinity. Toxic masculinity is very harmful for both men and women. Feminism can be useful in fighting toxic masculinity. Ultimately, masculinity is not always bad. When used properly, masculine traits balance feminine traits and vice-versa. What is bad is when toxic and hypermasculinity negatively affect society. Toxic masculinity and hypermasculinity need to be combated for the benefit of society.