The Great Divide(Toxic Masculinity)

Toxic Masculinity: The concept of toxic masculinity is used in psychology and media discussions of masculinity to refer to certain cultural norms that are associated with harm to society and to men themselves.

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.

Toxic Feminism: refers to women who are hostile to nurturance and cooperation, opting instead for aggression and backstabbing to get ahead.

 

     Would you believe me if I told you we needed one another? Or that Masculinity and Femininity exist in both male and female? For many years now there has been a power struggle between the man and woman that has caused much confusion; which is arguably by design. Many women have been pointing the blame at men; challenging them to make a change in their actions, ways, and verbiage. Women of color across the globe engage in debates about men of color and their many problems. This power struggle has caused a great divided between the opposite sex so much so that opposing opinions are enough to bring tension to a happy home. Well, women have we ever stopped to think that we could also be toxic and part of the problem as well?
Today Donald Trump has been used as the poster child of Toxic Masculinity. Being perceived as someone who abuses power/aggressive, belittles women, says whatever comes to mind, and is a complete asshole all around. Another example many like to use is men fighting or having a dispute in a public area. However, no one yells Toxic Femininity when 2 women are acting out of character. One can only ask, Why the bias?” When we look at the description above and compare it to how we use the term in our everyday lives; it almost seems as though we are using the term out of context. Toxic Masculinity in hindsight is when men are unable to connect emotionally on a deep and/or genuine level. This may lead to men expressing themselves in an aggressive way due to the inability to process or express how they feel. An extreme version of this case would be the Will LeClair from the Netflix Original ” The Society” or every mail character from ” 13 Reason”. Each of these characters had a dose of what it truly means to use masculinity in a toxic way.

Let’s peel back some layers, shall we???

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Will LeClair (Toby Wallace) may be considered an extreme case because of his inability to connect. In The Society, LeClair could not truly feel emotions however could mimic the actions perfectly. Using this tool for his personal gain he preyed on someone who we can arguably perceive to be naïve, fragile, and malleable. As his character developed, we learned LeClair was plagued with jealousy from a young age which triggered abusive behavior which often lead to murder. In the society, we see other way in which toxic masculinity is portrayed in subtle ways. In Season 2, the youth have begun their own town with established rules. The result is a makeshift jail in a family home wine cellar. The jocks assume the role as police of the town. Lexi (Grace Victoria Cox); while the jail is not real, and the jocks are not cops some begin to take their job seriously. As Lexi serves her time in jail the jocks keep watch tirelessly and continually interrogate her. While serving her time and answering questions Lexi realizes she has started her period and request a change of clothes. Expecting to change in private the jocks insist she change in front of them. While some may not see this as a big deal; the power trip is real and starting your period without any change of clothes and products is uncomfortable especially around clueless teenage boys with a new sense of authority and freedom. However, this is not the first time the jocks have overused their authority. Toxic Masculinity reared its head when the young men interrogated and beat up another in of their inmates who refused to eat.

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      13 Reasons is another great show to look at when talking about toxic masculinity. Many if not all the men in 13 Reasons have slight traits of potential toxic masculinity. While we can all agree Bryce Walker is the Toxic Masculine energy in the show. With his history of rapping his high school classmates and being the ringleader amongst his friends, Bryce Walker was a toxic character over all who tried to turn around his actions. If we look at other characters such as Clay Jensen, we can pinpoint traits that indeed were toxic. Although Clay was a good friend who took on more than he could handle; his inability to rationally think things through often made things worse. We see this when Clay decided to visit Bryce Walker in his home as well as when he makes the conscious decision to visit the residence multiple times after Bryce was killed. While this may be a courageous act to get revenge for the death of a friend and to protect others, the decisions were not thought out. An arguably toxic male trait is the idea that mean are unable to think rationally and/or juggle multitask at once; men can compartmentalize and handle one think at a time resulting in tunnel vision. 13 Reasons gives a great peek into how some forms of Toxic Masculinity are formed as well highlight the toxic relationships inside the home can affect everyone around you. De la Cruz (Timothy) is a football jock who is known for being a bully. He exerts his power making everyone afraid of him. The epitome of Toxic Masculinity. However, we later learn he doesn’t live as great as the other kids, his father is an alcoholic, abusive, and forced to hide his truth. Because of this he has displaced anger that is geared towards the other guys at school. We are also able to see the outcome of the men who are on the receiving end of this displaced anger. Characters Alex and Tyler are 2 of many targets for De la Cruz and his crew. Both men decide a one point they want to man up and teach their bullies a lesson. Assuming a real man is boxer who goes around challenging their fellow men or someone who tots around guns with the intention of killing someone that has wronged them; they both attempt to take matters into their own hands leaving themselves in a huge situation.

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If we can point out toxic traits in men outside of the stereotypical hyper sensationalized Toxic Masculinity traits; we can surely point out Toxic Femininity traits. There seems to be a double standard in terms of what a woman can do and what men cannot do. Which is hypocritical if we would like to be honest. When looking at todays’ choice of trash TV we like to watch our nightly reality shows. And reality shows are one of the outlets where toxic femininity manifest. While watching reality tv shows such as Basketball Wives, Real Housewives, Love & Hip-Hop, and more it is hard to ignore the backstabbing and fighting. However, this acceptable behavior was brought in slowly by The Hills, College Hills, and Flavor of Loves. When watching TV Shows such as these there are many instances where we are cursing each other out and throwing things. Oftentimes we will see the mothers acting in the same manner against their children, significant other, or another mother. There are occasions where cast members who do not get along are purposely around one another to entice more drama. Women are portrayed as aggressive, mean, loud, backstabbing, hyper-sexualized in the way that they dress and/or act towards each other and men, and messy. It comes off at times as though we enjoy drama. While these are Hyper sensationalized examples, as we welcome in our new female rappers, we can see a toxic persona many are trying to portray for the sake of sales. Today, many young girls and women alike mimic not only the female rappers of today but the women of reality tv shows on a sub conscious and subconscious level. On and off Television we as women carry toxic traits that involve “pocking a sleeping bear” or being cruel for the sake of being “real” and proving a point. In retrospect the way we are portrayed and interact with each other goes against the divine femininity of what it is it to be the essence of a woman.

While we may be able to point out what are toxic traits and what isn’t, the elephant in the room is where, who, how these toxic traits are developed. The truth is no matter how old we get in some way we as human race will always be malleable in some way. Starting from an early age we learn habits from our parents. As child we mimic our parents in one way or another; we pick up everything from their self-care to how they interact with people. If our parents were toxic as an adult, we are challenged with the task of unlearning those toxic traits. However, we must first ask ourselves, “Are my parents toxic?” or ” Have my parents ever been toxic?” This is because we grow up with the assumption that some of our parent’s traits are normal; brushing it off as, “That’s just Mom/Dad being who they are.” not realizing these things may affect us as we grow older. On the other hand, some toxic traits are born out of toxic situations, such as relationship romantic and platonic as a coping mechanism that later may turn into our protective guard. For example, every relationship has its ups and downs. When 2 significant others are in an argument, we tend to “ghost” them. We may not hear from that person in a day or 2 perhaps more. Overtime we are teaching the other person how to live without them. In turn we may carry that same habit into other relationships, or we will build a tough layer of skin unable to build a meaningful relationship. However, in order to assess our toxic traits this requires going into your own psyche to realize where certain thought patterns and physical habits derived.

By no means are women perfect and because of that our male counterparts cannot be expected to be perfect. As humans we all have toxic traits that we develop as we grow into adults. No matter the age we remain sponges soaking up the things around us the only difference is we have a choice as we grow in consciousness. As we turn to point fingers at an entire energetic frequency of Masculinity, we as women must be willing to pick up our mirror to evaluate what about ourselves are indeed toxic as well.

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