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Let’s Talk About Toxic Masculinity and How Mass Media Can Make It Worse

Patriarchal Society and Toxic Masculinity

Living in our society never becomes easy for some people because it means that we have to keep up with social constructions that may force us to fit into the society, which is pretty tiring and exhausting for us who are ‘different.’ As we know, our society never becomes very supportive towards people who do not fit into our patriarchal society. That’s why the terms of masculinity and femininity from hegemonic masculinity are becoming a serious issue and can affect both men and women negatively. Patriarchal society believes that men are associated with a strong, dominant, superior and invulnerable figure. Meanwhile, women are seen as weak, soft and fragile.

You probably often hear these words from your sexist family or acquaintances, “men are not allowed to cry,” “don’t be a pussy, you are a man” or “stand firm like a man.” Yes, I’ve heard those words many times in my life. Here’s why it is toxic for men: when men are demanded not to cry, they have to bottle up feelings, which can have a bad effect on their mental health. They’re not able to tell people about the problems they’re facing. They’re afraid of what judgmental people will say about them and it’s not supposed to be like that. It’s toxic and unhealthy because it leads men to miss out on aspects of life that should be available to all people, regardless of gender—things like emotional connection and nurturing. At its worst, toxic masculinity can encourage violence.

Media as Medium to Promote Toxic Masculinity

In this era, information has become an important thing we need. Mass media as an information provider is a big influencer, but things aren’t always positive. Media has negative effects that affect their consumers.

As a result of patriarchal culture, masculinity in media has grown as an issue that affirms gender roles in our society. Media shows masculinity as a power and form of dominance over femininity. It also constructs masculinity as a privilege of men. Headlines that we often see on television, online news sites and other media also help strengthen gender stereotypes like many advertisements do. Headlines that cover up gender-biased news also contribute to the widening of these gender stereotypes.

Words for You to Stay Awesome

So, instead of continuing the patriarchal society, I think we need to create a supportive zone. By doing this, for people regardless of gender, we are one step closer to avoiding both men and women from getting bad effects of gender stereotype. Men don’t always have to be strong and invulnerable, they are allowed to have feelings. Because allowing men to be open with their vulnerabilities, emotions and concerns is not a weakness. When you are able to understand and address things, you can improve yourself and overcome life’s many obstacles. If you need help, you are allowed to ask for it, no matter your gender. It does not show fragility to talk, your feelings are valid. I don’t believe the answer is to reject masculine ideals but to redefine what they mean to us. We should not judge gender through a narrow prism, but rather accept the myriad of ways boys and men can express themselves.

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Rickdy Vanduwin
Written By

A fan of social issues and founder of Resource Center on Gender, Sexuality and Human Rights Studies Udayana (GSHR Udayana).

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