VIEWS FROM THE MANDEM
Opening words from Jenna…
I have been aware of toxic masculinity for years, I just didn’t know that it had a name. In some weird way, it has become a buzz word on social media. Men across Twitter, and even big corporations like Gillette, are being called out for spreading the trash that is toxic masculinity.
If you’re not familiar with the term “Toxic Masculinity” it basically refers to certain masculine behaviours such as emotional repression or displaying a macho man, tough guy persona. There are more where these came from and – believe me – they are just as harmful.
In part of the #ViewsFromTheMandem series we get to take a look at the impact of toxic masculinity on one’s journey through Manhood.
“By far the worst thing we do to males — by making them feel they have to be hard is that we leave them with very fragile egos.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Am I a real man?
Growing up, I always used to look up to my older brother to remind me
what a man should do and act like. Maybe that wasn’t the best example but it was all I knew until I started to broaden my horizons. Men, both young and old, who grew up in a home without a father may not have had that manhood instilled in them from their early years. I was one of them and I believe it could be a reason as to why the view of “what it means to be a man” is distorted.
I was always told that men should be strong.. if they have emotions they should keep it to themselves and not tell anyone. I was told that If I have an issue to settle with someone, then it should be settled one on one. I guess you could say that they implied that violence was the way forward. Now, when I come to think of it, one of the reasons why men have a distorted vision of what a real man is could be because of the environment that they grew up in. With all the high suicidal rates amongst men, could it be that they don’t want to be deemed as ‘weak’ so they don’t say anything when things are going bleak for them?
In the media, society and even in close quarters, the phrase ‘man up’ is used regularly. This indicates that Men should put aside all their emotions and be a man, whatever that means. This, however, can be very detrimental and have an impact on one’s mental health.
The majority of men don’t want to be deemed as ‘weak’, so they don’t say anything when things are going bleak for them. Opening up is foreign to most men and it’s because of this that some feel like it isn’t what they are supposed to do. It’s very toxic and men need to be reminded that it’s ok to share their emotions. It won’t make you any less of a real man……
Back in school, I had a friend who didn’t watch football; never even had a favourite team. It was weird because I had this concept that all men liked football. It was something I struggled with but over time I began to accept it. Looking back on it, it didn’t make him feel any less of a man. Sports can be a tricky topic when it comes to men… If a man says they don’t like a particular type of sport, in some parts of society, they are deemed not to be a real man but in all honesty, it shouldn’t take away the fact they are men.
In my view, men need encouragement to share their emotions, they need encouragement to pursue their interests and not worry about what other people will say. Comparing men to other men will no doubt leave them feeling somewhat inadequate. Encourage the men in your life by reminding them that they don’t need to display toxic behaviours like being violent or aggressive in order to be viewed as a real man.
I am a real man, so are you, there is no validation needed to be a man, you are one.
Please note this post is part of the ‘Views From The Mandem series’ to catch up with the series click the links below