When I was younger, I always wondered how do you differentiate people? Is it by their age, their job? If you look closely, you can differentiate people based on their physical appearance too right, like having double eyelids or monolids, long hair or short hair, their nose shape etc.
Out of all of those things, the easiest way is by gender, that is whether the person is a male or a female. The shape of the body, the way of doing things, all of these vary in men and women. While there are pros for women, there are minuses as well. It goes the same way for men too.
But as I started growing up, I realized we put men and women into these boxes. Like men should do this, women should do that, men should be like this, women should be like that etc. I often heard that wearing makeup made women more feminine and if a man wore it, it makes him look less masculine. That got me thinking, what is feminine and masculine? I learnt that masculine means qualities traditionally related to men, and feminine, qualities traditionally attributed to women.
In many countries around the world, men are considered to be tough and in control, aggressive and successful, dominating and brave, and these behaviors are typically termed as masculine. But when toughness, disregard for danger and desire for control happens at the cost of tolerance, compassion and equitable behavior, things turn upside down in a blink of a second and this is called toxic masculinity. In simple words, toxic masculinity means the ideas or norms or the attitude we raise our boys in.
As people often confuse masculinity and toxic masculinity. Here is a disclaimer before I get into more details let me make one thing clear: ONE CAN BE MASCULINE WITHOUT HAVING TOXIC MASCULINITY.
These norms we raise them in creates a huge impact on the rest of their life and that is why it is called TOXIC. The belief of men must be always strong, creates pressure on them, if the high standards of manhood are not matched with theirs. When we say, men can’t be emotional, it makes them suppress their emotions which can have a major impact on their mental health. These so-called notions about masculinity lead to feeling emasculated if their spouse earns more and rape culture.
The entire concept of being masculine or being feminine baffles me. While researching for this article, a certain point stood out that the problem isn’t with men or women but it is with the arrangement of our society. Our social arrangements are patriarchal which are male-centered. We don’t accept the fact that even men are the victims of patriarchy.
Now you might think, “But, patriarchy works fine for men.” No, sometimes doesn’t work out fine for men. It limits them to grow into their personalities. We have this narrow-minded sexist code existing that rigorously limits men and women. In the name of culture and tradition, certain ideas perpetuate into their life choices which includes career and financial decisions. Doing what they actually like doesn’t make them more feminine, it just makes them have control over their life choices without anyone else’s opinion.
It makes them deprived of the human emotional range. How many times do we hear terms like “you’re a boy don’t cry” or “man up” or “don’t act like a girl”? Men are expected to hold a certain image of themselves, which may not be their true self and this creates unnecessary pressure on them. Society is slowly changing and people’s mindsets are gradually broadening, but this issue persists and needs to be addressed. your mental health matters; it is okay to reach out for help.
According to a 2007 report by the Indian Ministry of Women and Child Welfare, approximately 57% of children are sexually abused, and 54% of those children are male. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act was passed in 2012 to ensure the safety of girls and boys under 18. But to date, there is no law to protect adult men. This brings us to the next point, less Emotional Support for Sexual Abuse. Abuse has nothing to do with gender. Every person who gets abused is traumatized by it, whether it be a man or a woman. But how many of these cases do we hear in the media? It is hard for male and female victims to voice their situation, but male victims usually don’t speak up about it as they fear being ridiculed, being called weak. To avoid these scenarios, they silence themselves in pain.
Wearing makeup or nail polish isn’t a feminine or masculine thing, it’s just a way of expressing yourself. Nowadays, people are shamed lesser than they used to before, for expressing their emotions, feelings, likes and dislikes. People have taken the medium of artistry to spread awareness on the topic; male celebrities who are idolized, wear makeup, dresses, nail polish, do skincare, do things that are considered ‘feminine’, and this encourages their fans to do the same and come out and normalize doing so, it’s not only for girls. “gangsta” is a song by Will Jay which addresses the issue of toxic masculinity. He talks about not having to be muscular, having no emotions, keep flexing, to be a man. Or influencers like Timothee Chalamet, Harry Styles and members of bands like BTS, EXO etc have been dismantling toxic masculinity through their fashion choices, and this encourages their fans to do the same. You’re no less masculine or no more by being yourself and doing what truly makes you happy.