Toxic Masculinity: Defining Healthy Boundaries of Masculinity

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What is it to be a man? The real definition varies through society but there is no real answer. Traditional masculinity has been passed down through centuries, but how do boys turn into “men”? Is it when boys are taught how to change a tire, mow the lawn, barbequing or how to tie a tie? Today, traditional masculinity has turned into toxic masculinity. Society is full of toxic masculinity, and men are justifying their behavior using of traditional masculinity. Toxic masculinity does not mean all men are toxic, it refers that what is identified as masculinity is control, aggression and violence and having any empathy, emotion or compassion is unmanly. A man can be masculine without being toxic.

There is such thing as a healthy and functional masculinity. A healthy masculinity is respecting women, shows honor and respect regardless of the person’s beliefs, gender, or social standing; everyone is equal. A man who knows respect and hard, honest work, in my opinion is a man. A man over comes any obstacle and does not give up when things get hard. A functional masculinity can help society rather than hurt it. For example, in the Gillette Ad, “men need to hold other men accountable,” Instead of just ignoring or shaming their toxic behavior, men who see the wrong in others doings need to speak up and correct their behaviors, and not encourage it (We Believe 00:00:55-00:00:57). Also, in the Vox Essay states, if men line up their values and behaviors, men can actually create a model of a masculinity grounded in integrity which could help fix how society views traditional masculinity and embrace it (McBee).

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Not all men or boys know or wish to have traditional masculinity. Some are strictly raised by masculinity by their fathers or male role models, but some are also not raised with such strict laws a boy follows growing up. Boys who grow up with traditional masculinity are more than likely raised by someone who needed masculinity to feel ultimately superior in society. Learning how to be a man by father’s past mistake, does toxic masculinity develop because of those mistakes? Men who had a brutal childhood by sometimes being forced to be raised with toxic masculinity can lead to more boys being raised with aggression, and violence because that is what they grew up with. Boys who grow up with a single mother, or single father can significantly affect how the boy will see society and other people. Gillette AD: The commercial concludes: “The boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.” (We Believe 00:01:28-00:01:33). Boys can be raised to use characteristics such as aggression and ambition into proper ways of life. For example, using that motivation to get a hard-working job to support a family, or protecting their family through dangerous situations, could help them have a healthy and stable environment for their families.

Women and girls are directly a part of traditional masculinity. Women see a man when they are respectful, but a different man might see a “real man” when they control and manipulate other people. Women and children are the direct effect of toxic masculinity. When a man is raised with violence, aggression and show no respect for woman or children, they are the ones who get hurt through the process, but it is not a woman’s responsibility to ignore or shield herself; men are supposed to respect women. Men are more than capable of educating themselves the correct manners against women. But women also, cannot justify toxic behavior, “Boys will be boys”, is something always said by both men and women to excuse their son’s behavior like play fighting with each other, chasing girls around, or lift up girl’s skirts. Some boys grow up with no father figure or male role model and are sometimes resentful and create that abstinence of a healthy developing masculinity into toxic masculinity (French). Therefore, women play a significant role on how boys will make their masculinity, when women let boys see at a young age that everything that is toxic masculinity is okay, they are raised that those kinds of behaviors are a part of being a “man”. 

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