Unfortunately, society often pushes us into little boxes of rules, standards, and expectations that we have to abide by in order to “fit in.” However, we’re finally starting to realize how limiting and straight-up toxic these boxes can become—not only for women, but for men, too. It’s all connected.
Men have started to share what it’s like to have to fit into masculinity in their everyday lives, and it’s quite toxic.
What Is Toxic Masculinity?
It never hurts to remind ourselves what “toxic masculinity” even means. It’s a big fancy term that represents the cultural and societal expectations that men have to face. These include dominance, strength, and showing little emotion.
The way society enforces these standards is what can make it toxic to mental health, relationships, and force men into a little box. If men don’t measure up, they’re seen as weak, or not a “man.” Let’s look at what that means in their daily lives.
Wearing Safety Gear On The Job
“Getting made fun of for wearing life safety gear on job sites. Some can’t taste, smell or hear properly anymore because they’re too stubborn to put on earplugs and safety glasses, because it’s ‘not manly’ to protect yourself apparently.” —YikesWazowski_ / Reddit
Masculinity should never interfere with safety precautions. Yet somehow taking the risk is seen as manly and protecting yourself as “weak.”
Wearing A Seatbelt
“I always wear seatbelts in cars. They don’t bother me, I do it automatically without even thinking, but every so often someone will scoff or poke fun that I put my seatbelt on when we share a cab or an Uber. It’s like, why would I not? I don’t feel like smashing out my front teeth if the driver gets into a fender bender.” —SnooFox5 / Reddit
Why risk your life just to prove something to someone else? Life’s too short to have preventable regrets.
“I’ve been called ‘feminine’ for rescuing a starving kitten and taking it to the RSPCA.” —AmunPharaoh / Reddit
This actually seems ironic, as being “manly” is often associated with being a savior. Yet still, they limit it. For example, you can’t show too much emotion in the process and it has to seem convenient.
Wearing “Feminine” Colors
“My favorite color is purple. Tried to wear purple and nope. Too many dumb comments.” —raymondspogo / Reddit
Who gets to decide what colors are feminine and which are masculine? They’re just colors. Pink, for example, used to be a masculine color in the 1700s, worn by those of the upper class. Colors don’t have a gender.
Showing Any Sign Of Emotion
“Mainly how boys are raised to disregard pain and view emotions as a nuisance to be avoided and stifled. It’s helpful for getting things done, but not so good for being mentally healthy.” —SSDD1 / Reddit
What happens is that it all gets bottled up only to be projected out in harmful ways. Some men will have angry outbursts, others will take it out on the people around them or through a bad drinking habit.
Taking An Interest In Women’s Activities
“I remember in high school (I went to an all-boys school), I would go to watch my older sister play hockey, and I’d get made fun of. I never understood what the problem with going to watch a women’s hockey game was.” —SharkPerson / Reddit
Even if you think of the big televised games, the focus is always on the men’s version of the sports. It’s like the women’s teams are looked down on.
Being Told To “Man Up”
“My mother-in-law told me to stop whining and ‘man up,’ we were new parents and I was working nights. The only thing I said was that I was ‘tired.’ It’s stuff like that. I’m actually clinically depressed, but I never talk about it because I’m 6’3” and masculine, so I’m not allowed to feel sad or tired.” —DarkPasta / Reddit
Men face a lot of pressure in feeling like they need to be a support system as well as support themselves. It’s hard for them to be able to be vulnerable and admit defeat.
Not Being Able To Fix Everything
“Also, growing up, I got trouble for not knowing about cars, like ’cause I’m a dude I should have the knowledge of a mechanic.” —FullMetalDuck89 / Reddit
Men feel a lot of pressure to have some sort of skill set in anything hands-on. They’re expected to be the ones who kill a spider, fix the drain, and start the car up even when they have no interest in it.
Looking Up To Women Instead Of Other Men
“My earliest memory of toxic masculinity was when I was on my first-grade basketball team. We got to pick our jersey numbers. I chose 14 because it was my aunt’s number, who was a D1 college player at the time. When I told them this, the coaches laughed at me. Apparently, looking up to a non-male athlete was frowned upon.” —TacoHellDriveThru / Reddit
This is another example of how men are conditioned into having to feel like the dominant ones, even in instances where others prove themselves to be better.
Not Caring About Sports
“Getting nagged on for not caring about sports. I’m sorry, I just don’t want to spend my time watching people run around a field. And no, I don’t want to play sports video games either.” —ChrisIsaPrickX26 / Reddit
Somewhere along the line, we got conditioned into believing that some activities like dance and art are feminine, and others, like video games and sports, are more manly. It’s not encouraged to cross over from one to the other.
Being Louder Than Necessary
“Constantly makes irritating noises to prove that he’s a ‘man,’ such as yawning, moaning, farting, burping, sighing, clearing his throat, and talking annoyingly loudly, all of which he does in a very aggressive manner.” —Billiesoceaneyes / Reddit
It’s just another way to assert dominance, by being the only one anyone can hear and making their presence known. But really, it’s a sign of insecurity and feeling like they need to prove themselves.
“It’s What Men Do”
“Been pressured into doing things like trying beer because it’s ‘what men do.'” —FDRip / Reddit
Plus it’s not just enough to be pressured into drinking, what you order matters too. Men can’t simply order a margarita because they like the taste. They need to order “manly drinks” like scotch on the rocks.
Wanting To Make A Career Out Of Cooking
“When I told someone I was a chef, they told me that career path was for women.” —I_dont_even_care1986 / Reddit
It’s not even just about cooking. The problem is that some jobs are minimized as a woman’s hobby. This affects how they’re respected and what happens to those who occupy them.
Being Affectionate Towards Others
“Hugging or showing affection to my friends. They’ll ask you why you’re hugging and assume you’re trying to hit on them. They’re my friends, why wouldn’t I show them that I care about them?” —Amkha / Reddit
We’re all human, and we all crave affection, connection, and physical touch the same way. It’s not like being a man makes you less deserving of that.
Accepting Help From Others
“I grew up in a cowboy town. I saw a guy fall off his horse and break his leg. He refused to be helped off and insisted on getting back on his horse and riding out. There was an ambulance right there.” —DarrenEdwards / Reddit
The extent to which some men will go to refuse help even when they clearly really need it is incredibly high, but not surprising.
The Expectation To Speak On Behalf Of A Woman
“When someone is bothering my girlfriend and everyone just looks at me to jump in straight away. Like damn I was wanna enjoy my taco, she can definitely fight her own battles sometimes though.” —isthisourthrowaway / Reddit
Women don’t always need to be saved by a man. They’re often just as capable of saving themselves.
Accepting Any And All Advances From A Woman
“Apparently, guys are absolutely required to like any attention from a girl even if it’s invasive or borderline assault.” —Cuttlefish_Crusaders / Reddit
Many men feel as though they have to simply say yes to every woman who gives them attention just to add to their list. They even often compare the length of their lists with each other, even if it doesn’t make them happy.
Watching “Girly” Movies
“People would make fun of me for watching certain movies or listening to certain songs that had a woman singing. It got to a point where I was so self-conscious.” —Sadboi225 / Reddit
All genres should be made to be enjoyed by anyone. Yet still, even movies are given masculine and feminine roles, such as action movies are masculine while romantic ones are feminine.
It’s Time To Break The Cycle
“It’s like men are expected to act like they’re not real people. Just emotionless robots, who should be out chopping wood and doing ‘manly’ things! I’m teaching my sons it’s OK to feel things, it doesn’t mean you’re weak, it actually means you’re strong!” —not-today-ahole / Reddit
It’s not like we’re born with it, which means we can grow out of it if we stop conditioning men to enforce these dumb rules.