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High School Column: Toxic masculinity doesn’t have to be the norm
Lauren Andrews (Web).jpg
Lauren Andrews, Camden High School

By LAUREN ANDREWS

CAMDEN HIGH SCHOOL

The story isn’t always the same, but its origins are almost always predictable.

As a child, he was scolded for crying in situations where crying may have been the healthiest reaction. He was taught that boys are strong and the trademark of strength is suppressing his emotions. When he chased a girl around the playground for half of the time allotted for recess, his teachers blew it off and labeled his actions as a boy just “being a boy,” despite the girl’s uncomfortable and frightened reaction to the “game.” As he grew, his hormones raged just as any teenager (male or female) experiences. When his mood swings welcomed themselves into his daily routine, he noted that his random bouts of anger were more accepted by others than attempts to express any newfound sadness.

The boy grew into a man and, like anyone, his childhood affected the type of person he became. In relationships, his partners told him he wasn’t good at expressing his feelings or communicating with them. When a family member passed away, the pain of holding in tears and contorting his face into a blank slate became familiar to him. When he grew upset or frustrated, he resorted to anger and violence to release the tension which built within him. The man wondered hopelessly what was so wrong with him, and internalized hatred for himself that is all too common for men globally. The subtle and traditional “lessons” which he was taught as a child harbored a disgusting type of masculinity in his being, but he is not alone in this epidemic.

Toxic masculinity is a trait which has finally begun to have a light shone on it. Though many parents feel that they are doing the right thing when they teach their sons to be “tough as nails,” they often go about it in a destructive manner which ultimately harms the child. A parent wanting to raise his or her son to be strong is not wrong at all, but when the methods or what is taught fall into the examples listed above, the results can be horrible.

A man who was raised in this way is much more susceptible to raising his son under similar conditions. This leads to an awkward and often abrasive relationship between father and son, as the father’s lack of communication will inevitably lead to disputes and issues and the son will be confused on why he must behave in such an odd way. If the son decides he wants to express emotions openly and stray from the path leading to a future of confusion and self loathing, then this may also result in a strained relationship between father and son. The father will most likely not be able to comprehend his son’s reasoning, and will be too stubborn (and possibly intimidated) to try to understand. Instead, negative feelings will come about and cause further conflict and possibly years of resentment and disagreement.

Toxic masculinity can lead to failure to maintain relationships, self-hatred, and entitlement issues in men. It isn’t something which was made up to make men sound bad, but rather an issue that has been called into question in order to better the future for boys across the world. Understanding the issue is the first step in solving it, and “naming the dog” may also help men better understand the issues they face now and how to solve them. Rather than raising sons to be tough guys with no emotions, show them the strength of understanding themselves and being able to talk with others. These skills are key for a successful and happy life, and men should not be excluded from this due to stereotypical, traditional methods of upbringing. Recognizing toxic masculinity does not make men’s lives more difficult, but rather helps to bring about equality for both men and women and create a healthy lifestyle for men to enjoy.