I attended an event last week held by the Love, Life Now Foundation. The sole purpose of this event was to talk about how men can help prevent domestic violence. Included were guest speakers who spoke about the foundations mission and a there was also large group of men who took a pledge to prevent domestic violence if they know or suspect that it is occurring. It was extremely moving.
One of the topics of discussion was “toxic masculinity”. A term that I have been a critic of. Let me explain, I have three young boys. I do not want them growing up to think that being masculine is toxic, just like if I had a daughter I would not want her to grow up thinking that being feminine is toxic.
However, as it was spoken about and explained at this event my opinion changed. I still think that this term should not be thrown around recklessly, but I did agree with the explanation of what it is referring to and how it should be used. Many young boys are brought up being taught that masculinity is not sensitive, emotional, kind or forgiving. Masculinity has unfortunately taken on a very “toxic” meaning within many circles of our society. The term has given men permission to be angry, disrespectful, cruel and violent toward men and women alike. It is thought that if you are a “real” man you know how to put a woman in her place with physical or emotional abuse. You are a real man if you stand up for yourself by punching someone or speaking bad of them instead of resolving things with kindness and compassion. If you do this you are weak and “not a real man”.
“Toxic masculinity” should not be a generalization about all men, but should be applied when appropriate. When a male is being “tough” by bullying or acting out violently he should be called out. This person needs to relearn what being masculine is. In our home we teach our boys to be kind, to never be a bully and to never lay a hand on anyone especially a girl! We want our boys to resolve tough situations with understanding and consideration for the other person involved. I know they aren’t perfect (nor am I!) but instilling these values is important and will help them make better decisions about their treatment of others.
I want to talk a little about something I call “toxic femininity.” After the event last week it got me thinking more about what it means. In my opinion it doesn’t mean what I’ve seen a lot of people on social media define it as. This being a woman who stands up for herself and other women in wanting things like equal pay, better health care and the overall rights and civil liberties that men enjoy. Basically it doesn’t mean feminism, which for some reason scares a lot of folks because they think it means women are trying to push men aside when all we really want is to be treated fairly. I proudly consider myself a feminist.
In my opinion, “toxic femininity” means that you are trying detrimentally to be what society calls “beautiful” and imposing this ideology on others. I certainly love beauty and fashion but there’s a point that it’s taken too far and becomes “toxic” to the individual trying to be what the world considers “beautiful” and “sexy”.
For example, extreme dieting, tanning, massive amounts of injections and plastic surgery. Females are constantly confronted with pictures of women that are seemingly “flawless” or what society considers “flawless”. For example the Kardashians. They are the most followed family on Instagram and some of them have had everything done from booty implants, liposuction, nose jobs, lip injections and laser hair removal EVERYWHERE. In addition, they use applications like FaceTune that completely change the look of their face and body. (Don’t get me wrong I love a good filter but I’m not changing the size of my nose!)
These images are toxic for our young girls, I know this because I speak with some young women who want to have procedures done that will give them an “hourglass figure” or a smaller, more pointy nose and curves that are naturally impossible. These young ladies are beautiful the way they are and we need to encourage that and stop following “fakers”. The more we see and appreciate women the way they are the more it will be considered beautiful to just be ourselves! Women and young girls will all be more confident about who they are and what they look like.
Do you think that “toxic femininity” exists? And if so what do you consider “toxic femininity”?
I would like to close by saying if you think that you or someone you love is experiencing abuse, physical or mental, please contact either the Love, Life, Now Foundation (617-803-8357) or the Dove Foundation (Domestic Violence Ended), 617-471-1234 or Toll Free: 1-888-314-3683.
Thanks for stopping by!