There’s no denying that men have it pretty good. As a general rule, they have more freedom, more power, more autonomy, and greater personal safety than women do. Women have been struggling to gain greater equality for generations, and more and more men have joined them in that fight. A big part of the discussions surrounding that issue is the idea of toxic masculinity.
First, we want to say that not all masculinity is toxic. Toxic masculinity is the kind of masculinity that sends unhealthy and often destructive messages to our young men. A classic example is the idea that “boys don’t cry” or talk about their feelings. Those emotionally stunted boys grow into emotionally stunted men with higher likelihoods of struggling with depression, isolation, feelings of loneliness, and problems handling their anger. There are many small facets of masculinity that are toxic and hurtful to men and to society in general.
Who better to talk to the world about toxic masculinity than the men who see and feel its effects daily? One Twitter user asked men if there were any down sides to being a man, and the conversation was both eye opening and heartbreaking.
Here’s her tweet:
Men. Men of Twitter. What are the down-sides of being a man? We discuss the downsides of being a woman very frequently – but what's going on with you lovely guys?
— Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) October 18, 2018
Men responded with all sorts of things that kind of made us sad. Like feeling isolated and alone.
Loneliness and anger. I just came from meeting an ex-Army colleague who described the endemic of loneliness and anger (and where this anger comes from we don’t know. Frustration I think, I certainly feel for me) amongst ex-servicemen especially.
— Nicholas Mazzei (@Tsar_Nicholas) October 18, 2018
We simply don't have anyone to talk to. Going to a psychiatrist is expensive and looked down on socially, friends don't take you seriously unless there's something REALLY wrong, and it's hard to trust people with sensitive subjects. It's probably why many people drink.
— Burkhart (@BigJBurkhart) October 19, 2018
The only time anyone cares about my problems is when they decide I have one for the sake of conversation with other friends of mine. It’s really such a tough thing to deal with, and I couldn’t talk to my parents about shit because mom would judge and dad would change the subject
— Lord Lilo Key (@Lilo_Key) October 19, 2018
The one thing I feel is a down side of being a man is the solitude. Tending to deal with problems alone whilst presenting a strong front and keeping a stoic positivity. But do you know what. If that my main gripe, compared to the rest of the world, it’s a breeze.
— John Ling #FSFA #The5Million (@AhDeFoof) October 19, 2018
“Manly” expectation weighs heavily on a lot of men.
It is an outlet
Helped me get through tough times
But is seen as odd
— Daily Haiku (@Daily_haiku_) October 19, 2018
1. “be a man!” I sometimes hate that phrase.
2. An emotional man is not a man. I also hate that.
3. Asking the girl out first.
4. Talking about child abuse
— Jireh Advincula (@beastmodejireh) October 19, 2018
This. I feel you Bobby
— David Ingram (@mrdavidingram) October 19, 2018
And why is it considered “strong” to suppress emotions in the first place, right? It takes so much more strength and courage to let yourself be vulnerable.
— Tiff (chuckiscomedy) (@tiffds) October 19, 2018
Because the value of a man is always to be solid and unmovable. Someone to look to who is usually not shaken in his values, identity and being. So the second you’re less than that your value diminishes and you’re value of strength depreciates and is viewed as weakness
— Spooky Squat Sensei (@704_Edubb) October 19, 2018
The idea that if you're not: drinking heavily, trying to shag everything that moves, living and breathing sport, solving problems with violence, competing with other men to be the “alpha”, and /or severely repressing mental health issues, then you're not a man
— Neil Walsh (@HairyArsePorter) October 19, 2018
Prob a lot of violence by men (not condoning) is born of a place of hopelessness and frustration. Instinctual 2 lash out as men are taught to be “hard” and aggressive from young. Some men can’t undrstnd any other way, why suicide is probably so high, hurt yourself before other
— Craig Drought (@CraigDrought) October 19, 2018
Seen a wee girl crying looking for her mum. Felt I had to approach a woman to help out because of the worry I’d be suspected of the evilest crime imaginable if I spoke to her. Maybe overkill, but the fear is real.
— Chris Mochan (@ChrisMochan) October 18, 2018
People seeing my sensitivity as a weakness. My emotional intelligence has been preyed on as effeminate and being targeted as gay. These are not weaknesses. These are strengths and being 'in touch' with the spectrum of emotions is good.
— Kip Mcdonagh (@KipMcdonagh) October 19, 2018
When I feel any emotion it makes me feel judged, weak, and embarrassed. Young me hid this (vulnerable) side, but as I've gotten older I am trying to embrace it. Still can't seem to expose it without feeling embarrassed in the end.
— ChristianM (@cmm1003) October 19, 2018
It felt like we were supposed to be mean? It was toxic masculinity. While I've seen it shaken with age amongst myself and most of my friends there are a lot of people who still unknowingly feed into it through adulthood. Just creates more insecurity which leads to more jerks.
— JD (@SirenLungs) October 19, 2018
We get hardly any government programs to help or child support so you have to take multiple jobs just to stay afloat. And you aren't allowed to fail or you run the risk the losing custody of the child after going through hell to gain custody in the first place.
— Thomas Mueller (@Blizzard86) October 19, 2018
Single fatherhood and poverty. I have two neighbor's who are single fathers and one would still be unemployed if his mother wasn't able to help with childcare and another is unable to leave a toxic relationship (for both him and his son) because he needs childcare help.
— Nigel Kirk (@nkirk4homeless) October 19, 2018
I must be single, or unemployed, or have been forced to be there by a nagging wife. Men don't help themselves, but the fact that we are never taken seriously as active parents doesn't help. Example: that rancid arsehole Piers Morgan's recent Twitter flatulence re. Daniel Craig.
— Iain Lowson (@EmbraAgain) October 19, 2018
I would say newer fathers are trying to be very involved fathers but we don't have any models for how to do so cause previous generations allowed fathers to hide in their work or commutes! I struggle sometimes as a father of 2 beautiful boys because the map is sparse
— Ted Auch (@lsarpp) October 19, 2018
Equality in parenting – there is none. In the eyes of social services a man can never be a better parent than a woman just because he is a man. Putting a man on the birth certificate of a child is OPTIONAL. Men have to fight for access to their kids it's disgusting
— Christian Evans (@ci_evo92) October 19, 2018
And everyone could use a good cuddle.
We have very few avenues to emotionally express ourselves. We're supposed to fit this stereotype of being tough and only wanting touch if it comes with sex.
I want a hug and head pats, dammit.
— Ash Menon (@ashvinmenon) October 19, 2018
My 4yo son was devastated when I told him he wouldn’t grow up to be a mummy, he’d be a daddy. I asked him why, he said ‘because no one hugs daddies and they never get to dance’. My husband sadly confirmed this is largely true ( now he makes sure to dance hugging him every day)
— me (@gingleberries) October 18, 2018
When women get beaten up by life, their friends gang up to support them. Men don’t. Sometimes all you need is a hug.
— Mark Stradling (@oldmansteptoe) October 18, 2018
So what have we learned?
We are all hurt by patriarchy & need to highlight the role women play in perpetuating patriarchal culture so that we will recognize patriarchy as a SYSTEM women & men support equally, even if men receive more rewards from that system, and work together to dismantle this system
— Sara Day Evans (@esaraday) October 19, 2018
Ah I'm sound. Just important women see that what they perceive as a system designed to inprison them also inprisons us. We have a mutual enemy.
— luke barnes (@northernluke) October 19, 2018
Turns out men aren't from mars and women aren't from Venus, but all trapped on earth with the human condition and its existential angsts and identity issues.
— Rina Atienza (@eevilmidget) October 19, 2018
Few people realise that the patriarchy hurts men too. The standard of ‘manliness’ is absurd. Real Feminism realises this and see men’s stereotypes as poison. Whilst being wary of ‘himpathy’ (@kate_manne), we must move forward together with equal respect for each other as Humans!
— Siobhán (@shiv42tea) October 19, 2018