Feminism · Social justice

Its time to talk about toxic masculinity.

Toxic masculinity is one of the ways in which Patriarchy is harmful to men. It refers to the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth. The rise of progressive movements have highlighted the need to address such an issue.

Here in New Zealand we have one of the worst suicide rates per capita in the world. We saw a rise in male suicides from 385 in 2014, to 428 in 2015. Male suicides made up 75.8 percent of the total suicides for the year. This 3:1 male to female suicide rate has been observed for most of the last eight years.

It comes down to our upbringing. The idea that as boys we can not express emotion like our female counterparts is extremely problematic and its why men and boys feel like the only way out is too take their own life. Ever remember being told not to be a girl? Well that poses a few issues. Firstly its insinuating that being a girl is not ok, therefore creating the sense that males are superior. It also makes us distant from anything feminine such as crying.

Obviously it is not ok to bottle this up and it often doesn’t stay bottled up, it comes out in the form of anger and aggression. This can be linked to domestic violence and assaults. Angry testosterone fuelled men can be seen up and down Courtenay place on a Friday or Saturday night, sure this is partly to do with excessive drinking but also due to our male culture.

Toxic Masculinity can be linked to rape culture. Now there is confusion about the definition of rape culture. You will often see young males saying it doesn’t exist. It does exist but it is a very complicated matter. Rape culture manifests through the acceptance of rapes as an everyday occurrence, and even a male prerogative. It can be exacerbated by police apathy in handling rape cases, as well as victim blaming, reluctance by authorities to go against patriarchal cultural norms, as well as fears of stigmatisation suffered by rape victims and their families. Rape culture links non-consensual sex to the cultural fabric of a society, where patriarchal worldviews, laced with misogyny and gender inequality, are passed from generation to generation, leading to widespread social and institutional acceptance of rape.

That is a lot to take in, I know. As males, we are expected by society to have sex as much as possible. The more the better. This only applies to men as women are told not to have much sex or be labelled. With boys growing up wanting to have sex and girls growing up being told not too, we are just asking for problems. But this does not at all justify rape. Brock Turner is the poster child for rape culture and toxic masculinity. An athlete, attended a university that had a reputation for its sex culture and thought he’d genuinely done nothing wrong by raping someone. He feels an entitlement to sex. Why? Because him and the victim were hooking up at a party. This is the dangerous notions we are putting on males. Go get sex, you deserve it, you need it and the more you get.. well the higher your status. It is too easy to dismiss toxic masculinity and blame alcohol or victim blame.

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