Letter: toxic masculinity lingers in the community

Dear editor,

Toxic masculinity is the societal pressure that inflicts negative behaviors and attitudes onto men and forces them to adapt. It is present in every aspect of life, from not showing vulnerability to following certain physical appearance standards, deeming qualities as “gay,” or staunch opposition to open-ended talks about mental health. This idea dictates the idea of manliness where men “have” to be more strong rather than sensitive, that they cannot express emotion or display traits or enjoy activities that are typically considered to be “feminine.” Some of these ridiculed behaviors simply include crying or not possessing violent tendencies when it comes to confrontation.

Toxic masculinity can be inherently harmful to men, especially young boys and those of the Marshall community because they are pressured to follow a certain narrative. This narrative is seared into the minds of young men from early childhood and follows them into adulthood. Toxic masculinity can even normalize developing eating disorders due to unrealistic expectations of men’s physique.

Yet, these negative habits affect all genders. Toxic masculinity encourages misogyny and the mistreatment of women, which can lead to unhealthy platonic and romantic relationships, violence against women, unequal opportunities for women in the workplace and so much more.

As a Marshall community, we should redefine the meaning of masculinity as something that does not subtract from the worth of men and boys, but as a trait that only reaffirms their character. We need to actively discourage men from falling into the cycle of toxic masculinity. Regardless of one’s gender, this is an issue that requires everyone’s attention and action.