Hypermasculinity is undoubtedly one of the most supreme forms of toxicity thriving in our society today. Hypermasculinity is commonly defined as the prominent and dangerous complete over exaggeration of stereotypical presentations of masculinity, such as physical strength and appearance, aggression and dominance, lack of feelings and sensitivity, and increased sex drive. There has been numerous studies on the harmful effects hypermasculinity has on men and there is enough coverage in news stories to support it. Not sure what this can look like? Check out this list to learn about 6 illnesses or injuries that hypermasculinity can directly cause:
- Eating Disorders
Hypermasculinity creates a toxic breeding ground in the minds of boys. It institutes feelings of inadequacy, low self esteem, and even hatred towards the way one looks. These feelings are then repressed even further and can often present themselves in a very dangerous way. Boys feel the pressure to have outstanding muscles and an overly athletic build. This combined with the feelings mentioned creates the perfect grounds for eating disorders to prevail. Specifically, body dysmorphic disorder comes to mind. A subtype of body dysmorphic disorder is muscle dysmorphia. This is an eating disorder common in males, especially athletes. Boys with muscle dysmorphia suffer from chronic feelings of obsession with their looks. They think of themselves as too small, weak, fragile, skinny, and underdeveloped. They often will resort to extreme measures to try to combat those feelings. This can be very dangerous for the person’s mental and physical health.
Another mental illness hypermasculinity can cause is depression. While depression is common among both males and females, it is significantly more deadly for males. This is due to hypermasculinity. Hypermasculinity not only causes depression, but also takes it a step further. Depression can be seen as weakness, fragility, and sensitivity which are all things hypermasculinity instills fear of. This makes a boy suffering from depression less likely to seek treatment than their female counterpart, which increases the rate of death. In fact, young males aged 15 – 24 are at the highest risk for suicide due to depression, with a ratio of males to females at 7:1. This shows how hypermasculinity can be fatal.
- Consequences of misusing steroids
You’ll often hear of boys abusing the use of steroids in order to “bulk up” for their sports team or to ease their inner turmoil about the way they look. The misuse of steroids can have multiple adverse effects on the male human body. Examples of this are the development of breasts, shrinking of the testicles, baldness, shortened stature, ruptured tendons, high blood pressure, enlargement of the heart’s ventricles, cancer, tumors, acne, jaundice, retaining fluid, AIDS, hepatitis, extreme aggression and rage, delusional thinking, and mania. All of these things definitely aren’t good for one’s health and some could even be deadly. Sounds like quite the price to pay for the sake of hypermasculinity.
- Toe walking
Toe walking is common in children, but it usually goes away after the age of 3. There are multiple reasons why a boy could be a chronic toe walker, but hypermasculinity actually has a relationship with toe walking. Society is constantly telling our youth that tall boys are more attractive and preferred. When a short boy takes this information in and mingles it with the already present feelings from hypermasculinity, it can cause some weird actions to happen, like toe walking. Toe walking in the name of hypermasculinity is simply a habit a short boy takes up in order to try to make himself appear taller and therefore more manly in the eyes of others. The health consequences of chronic, obsessive toe walking are cramps, shortening of the Achilles tendon, and stress on muscles and joints (especially the ankle). This can lead to the inability to elevate their toes, run, walk correctly, and can also hinder their gross motor development and balance (which can cause problems of its own). There are treatments for toe walking, but once it becomes habitual it can be very hard to consciously work to stop toe walking.
- Over exhaustion
Over exhaustion can be related to exercise, but also the work force. Hypermasculinity places pressure on men to be the “breadwinners”, which means it is their duty to be the powerful head of the family and to bring in the money. This increased sense of pressure can cause men to feel as if they should never take a break from the “hustle”. Over exhaustion is so prominent that there are actually many cases of hospitalization for over exhaustion. Prolonged feelings of stress and tiredness can even be fatal. Some consequences of over exhaustion are falling asleep while driving, gastrointestinal issues, inflammatory problems, mental illnesses, dehydration, insomnia, heart attacks, and even death.
- Consequences of using drugs for penis enlargement
This might sound silly, but there is no joking about the harsh reality of this. As I said before, hypermasculinity can cause feelings of inadequacy even with one’s penis. There is no secret that there is major pressure on guys for their penises to have certain “favorable” characteristics. This can lead to guys seeking help to fix their inadequacies through the use of penis enlargement/enhancement drugs. Most of those drugs are actually herbal supplements, which are widely unregulated and therefore very unreliable and dangerous. Also, drugs used for such sexual health problems are the most commonly recalled category by the FDA. This can obviously lead to unforeseen health problems.
There you have it – 6 examples of illnesses/injuries we can thank hypermasculinity for. Taking hypermasculinity seriously is the first step in working against these 6 health concerns. Awareness and advocacy can greatly aid in this. Hypermasculinity is real and it is causing real problems in our men and young boys. Let’s work against this toxicity, for the sake of the boys whose hypermasculinity tells them they shouldn’t.