I recently had two conversations with two different men in my life about toxic masculinity. Moments after the words were brought up, both of these guys jumped to the defensive. Things like "I hate that, it's so offensive." and "I'm tired of men being referred to as 'toxic'." were said by both men. They attempted to explain to me why these word were incorrect and how they are damaging to men. It made me realize that these words can be offensive... when you don't have a full grasp of what the term means.
"toxic masculinity is used in psychology and media discussions of masculinity to refer to certain cultural norms that are associated with harm to society and to men themselves."
There it is. Toxic masculinity is a term used in psychology to explain the phenomenon in our society that tells our men and teaches our little boys that they HAVE to be a certain way. In no way does toxic masculinity mean that men are evil or that being masculine is toxic. In fact, we know that it's common for men to act or react to situations differently than women. That's part of the beauty of the sexes. Without difference, we are bland and boring.
For thousands of years women were told that they were delicate, fragile, soft, meek, unable, unintelligent... we needed a man. Women became tired of toxic femininity. We became tired of the idea that we were unable to accomplish life successfully without our father or husband directing it for us. This is how feminism was born. Toxic femininity locked women in cages.
Our boys are still brought up being told that men are strong. Men don't cry. Men have to know how to fix cars and heavy machinery. To be a real man you have to fight other men. If you respect women, you're 'whipped'. This is toxic masculinity.
Teaching our boys to stuff their emotions down (because men can't cry) is why schools, hospitals, airports, malls, etc. are being shot up. When you aren't allowed to face your emotions for what they are, you cover them with a blanket of anger. Anger is a secondary emotion. We use anger as a self-defense mechanism, a way of self preservation.
Anger is the most destructive emotion of all.
Our society tells men they have to be strong. When we tell someone they have to be strong, they refrain from seeking help. Needing help is a sign of weakness, men can't be weak. Instead, men suffer quietly with emotions they can't work through and sometimes mental illnesses that go untreated. 66% of all suicides are performed by men, middle-aged white men being the most at risk.
We get so caught up on words, we allow them to be a trigger for us, before we even bother learning what they mean. When people say "toxic masculinity" they aren't saying men are evil, they are saying perpetuating the idea that men can't feel (and express) things is evil.
It's okay for women to be fragile, it's okay for men to be strong. It's okay for women to be strong, it's okay for men to be fragile. It's not okay to tell people that they HAVE to be something based on their gender. Let our boys cry, let our girls be loud. Everyone deserve to experience life FULLY as a human being.