While this in no way takes anything away from the struggles that women face every day in society, it’s not always acknowledged that men face their own struggles as well.
Even though they may have their male privilege, there’s no denying that gender stereotypes end up hurting everyone. They even affect the relationships men have with each other, and subsequently with women. Here’s how.
What Is It In A Nutshell
Men feel pressured to follow certain traditional standards. They’re ideals of how “a man should act” and come from the same system that causes women to struggle.
Basically, it’s a way society expects how men should act, such as being “manly.” It’s not only harmful to men, but to everyone around them, too. We’ll get into how with some examples.
Men Don’t Cry
Men have emotions, but for some reason, we teach them from a young age to hold them in and bury them as if that’ll somehow make them go away. The truth is, men cry too, but they feel as though they have to do it behind closed doors.
As a consequence, most men don’t learn how to communicate properly and work through their feelings.
Men Shouldn’t Ask For Help
There’s an expectation that every man should have the skills of a plumber, mechanic, breadwinner, and basically be able to figure out everything for himself.
You’ll find that many would rather get lost than simply ask for directions because the latter might show weakness.
Men Can’t Show Fear
For some reason, we have to call a man in the house to kill a spider even though it should be completely okay for them to be freaked out by them too. Men are supposed to be the heads of their families, to be the victor and protector of their fragile women.
Yet these are outdated ideals. Our expectations just haven’t quite caught up with the times.
Taller Men Are More Attractive
The standard for an attractive man is still a tall man with a strong build. Women still often avoid dating a man shorter than them because it “looks bad.”
We forget that this height difference was because men once needed to be the dominant ones. Shorter men are just as capable of basically everything taller men can provide in a relationship.
Men Are Driven By Sex
There’s this assumption that men are always only thinking of one thing, and that’s all they want from women.
This is unfair to the growing number of men who are actually seeking meaningful relationships without the pressure of their friends to have a high “body count” or being considered “too nice” when trying to be romantic. Plus, they then get a hard time when they’re the ones to say no to sex.
Heterosexual Men Have Limited “Fashionable” Choices
Often, when men try to experiment with clothing, especially colors and patterns, their sexuality is immediately questioned by those around them. Clothing stores and the fashion industry focus on catering to women while providing men with a little section in the back.
Consequently, women are judged more on their looks than pretty much anything else.
Men Have To Deny Themselves A Part Of Their Identity
The limitations that these ideals create force men to never face their baggage or actually dig in to find out who they are. All the necessary emotions that they would need to explore their identity and grow are pushed to the side.
Without exploring their fears, insecurities, and sadness, the only feelings they feel like they can hold onto are anger and resentment.
The Effects On Everyday Life
So far, we’ve given you general examples of toxic masculinity. You might have not noticed the ways that they end up coming into play in everyday situations.
Sometimes men act in ways that don’t necessarily make sense, or they just act aggressive, and we forget to think that their reaction is actually a result of years of conditioning.
It’s Not “Manly” To Need A Band-Aid
“I had a male roommate refuse to put a Band-Aid on his finger, which was dripping blood on my kitchen counter. His reasoning? ‘Because I’m not a little b****.’
“Like, excuse me, you’re creating a biohazard on my food preparation area.” —RegularWoahMan / Reddit
It’s “Unacceptable” To Lose To A Woman
“Went to Dave & Buster’s on a Tinder date. We played the basketball game together, I beat him by a LOT, he got so mad about it he decided the date was over.” —captainsaveabro / Reddit
This could’ve been the love of his life, but no, the idea of being weaker than her at a fake game of basketball was too damaging to his ego.
Dictating What A Woman Can Wear
“On one first (and last) date, I was very aggressively told that I wasn’t to wear heels if I ever saw him again (he was short, I’m tall).” —BeeCDN / Reddit
While a man should never tell a woman what she can and can’t wear, it’s usually a projection of his own insecurity and need to maintain a certain appearance.
Getting Sunburned Instead Of Wearing Sunscreen
“My S.O refuses to use sunscreen. Is skin cancer manly? Have to surprise smear it on his face like he’s a toddler.” —[deleted] / Reddit
Right on theme, another user shared: “I always find it so weird how it’s considered masculine to avoid taking care of your health. We only get one body. Why isn’t it just basic sense to maintain it?
“Wearing protective gear, avoiding head trauma, applying daily sunscreen, moisturizing skin, avoiding unhealthy foods, keeping things sanitized, doing things like yoga…” —Confetticandi / Reddit
Withholding Physical Affection And Pushing For Sex
“I had a bf who thought any form of non-sexual affection was ’emasculating,’ but would want to have sex any time he was sad.
“It was years after we broke up that I had a lightbulb moment and realized why he got so pushy about sex because it was the only affection he ever got.” —Miss_Cegenation / Reddit
Can’t Do Chores Because They’re A Woman’s Job
“Bragging about pretending not to be able to iron do get the girlfriend to do it for him. He didn’t want her thinking her was unmanly and able to iron or get stuck with the girls’ tasks.” —Sorcha16 / Reddit
This is why so many relationships end up having unequal dynamics. The women are expected to do so much of the housework and clean up after their men, even if both parties work full-time jobs.
Carrying A Bag Is Too “Feminine”
“My boyfriend’s brother keeps making fun of my boyfriend because he uses this leather messenger bag, specifically designed for men actually, and keeps telling my boyfriend that it’s a purse, implying it’s feminine (and even if it was, what’s wrong with that?).
“Like, what are men supposed to do if they don’t want to carry stuff in their pockets? What’s wrong with owning and using a bag?” —Valkyrja_ / Reddit
Massages Are A “Girl Thing”
“As a massage therapist, I’m always shocked at how many men see getting a massage as a girl thing. One actually told me that if his friends found out, they’d take his ‘man card’ away.” —SourMelissa / Reddit
Massages tend to be either a part of a woman’s “spa day” or are sexualized to be more manly.
The Line Between Chivalry And Overstepping
“The ones who will run in front of you and push you out of the way to get to the door first or grab the door handle out of your hand if you try to hold the door open for them.” —tc88 / Reddit
It’s not a man’s place to take away her autonomy in the name of chivalry, but some men have a hard time recognizing that if they’re not told directly.
It’s “Embarrassing” To Be Sent To Buy Tampons
“My father refuses to buy me pads. Like…the cashier knows you’re a man and don’t have a uterus…his logic baffles me.” —yourfavoritebeast / Reddit
It’s like they can’t talk about women’s “problems” because somehow that’ll magically infect them and they’ll start having them too?
The Solution According To John Legend
It seems like the best way to figure out how to deal with toxic masculinity is to take it from a man himself: “I think we’re all trying to figure it all out, especially when we’re teenagers, but I think the key is to listen and empathize with one another,” he said in an interview with Cosmo.
Maybe if enough people made men feel like they had a safe space to try and be vulnerable and explore themselves, we might all learn to understand each other and eventually get rid of some of these stereotypes.