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Toxic Masculinity: About

What is Toxic Masculinity?

Toxic masculinity is best described as a box. It’s narrow, rigid, and men have to contort themselves to fit inside it. To fit in the man box of toxic masculinity, a man must live by a particular set of beliefs and behaviors:

  • Suffer pain in silence
  • Have no needs
  • Never lose
  • Show no emotions other than bravado or rage
  • Don’t depend on anyone
  • Don’t do anything that could be construed as weakness
  • Never snitch

The man box also requires that men buy into a rigid hierarchy in which straight men are dominant over everybody else. Furthermore, among straight men, the man box decrees that hyper-masculine men are dominant over men who reject or find themselves outside the box. If you don’t fit in the man box, you pay the price. At best, you risk invisibility. At worst, you risk disrespect, bullying, or even violence. Read more...

 

Misinterpreting “Toxic Masculinity”

Much of the initial pushback to the idea of toxic masculinity comes from people who take offense to the phrase. Many interpret the words to mean something they don’t and immediately disengage from any useful dialogue. Here are some examples:

  • I hear you describe masculinity as “bad” and “toxic” and I can only conclude you are anti-male and that you see all men as bad and toxic.
  • I hear you say that men need to be more feminine and I think you’re trying to emasculate men.
  • I hear you say only toxic masculinity is a problem, and I say “what about toxic femininity?”
  • I hear you wanting to eliminate masculinity and I say that will make boys weak, lazy, and fearful.

Those of us comfortable using the term “toxic masculinity”—social scientists, for instance—need to address critics’ misinterpretation and provide a helpful, accurate counter-narrative. Masculinity, in and of itself, is natural, good, and necessary for the survival and evolution of our species. Positive masculinity is how masculine energy—when consciously-calibrated, wisely-timed, and smartly-appropriated—is courageously life-giving, boldly empowering, and fiercely impactful to individual men and everyone else in their lives. Conversely, toxic masculinity is extreme, injurious, ill-timed, and poorly-appropriated. Read more...

 

Psychologists Changing the Narrative

Psychologists strive to recognize that masculinities are constructed based on social, cultural, and contextual norms. Rationale Clinician awareness of one’s stereotypes and biases against boys and men is a critical dimension of multicultural competence. Understanding the socially constructed nature of masculinity and how it affects boys and men, as well as psychologists, also is an important cultural competency. Read more...

 

 

APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men