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They would usually say that being a man is way easier than being a woman. In most cases, they would be right. However, if we look beyond the service, men nowadays have obstacles that they go through. It doesn’t matter if you are of a different religion or culture, any man knows that being one in this society is not easy.
It can be very hard to live up to its expectations even when who you are just isn’t enough. This puts a lot of men in a predicament where the odds are stacked against them. It gets to the point where your race determines not only your access but the privilege you have against others.
by Jurien Huggins
We cannot say all-male experiences are the same when it comes to toxic masculinity. Depending on the individual’s position, other labels that the person has affects their experience as a man. When you are a minority, you have to struggle more than the majority. Since other obstacles can get in the way, people seem to adapt more effortlessly than others.
Growing up it was normal to see cisgender white men play the ultimate portrayal of what a man was supposed to be. Usually, when you look at the media a man is seen as being strong, dominant, and very masculine. But on occasion men fall victim to feeling like they have to live up to this image.
The article, the dangerous effects of toxic masculinity written by Sarah Shepard explains the reason why most men feel they have to live up to the expectation.
“Fragile masculinity,” a term referring to the unrealistic cultural standards placed on men, exists because many men feel they have to overcompensate or act in a certain way to meet these traditional standards, but we are all human. As human beings, regardless of gender, we have a combination of masculine and feminine traits.”
That is why we as people need to be careful about how we raise young boys in this society. When it comes to toxic masculinity, if not taken care of, we need to know the effects it will have long term. This message in the media gives most men a bad idea and it usually influences boys to portray themselves as something they’re not. How can you blame them when that is all they have been taught. The article How boys Suffer: The Boy Code and Toxic Masculinity by Laura Kastner talks about what masculinity teaches young boys.
“In 1998, William Pollack wrote a book entitled Real Boys: Rescuing Our Boys From the Myths of Boyhood. He described the boy code as the requirement that boys should be stoic and independent, macho and athletic, powerful and dominant, and phobic of anything close to feminine (e.g. warm, empathetic, or sensitive). If they aren’t, they are wimpy losers.”
Since that person is insecure about their own masculinity, it can turn out to be a dangerous outcome. It makes boys fear to have certain traits women have, which is why people of the LGBT community struggle the most. Men in that community adopt feminine qualities. Since that is the case, a lot of heterosexual men feel inferior.
They go out of their way to treat queer people like trash. No matter what, if a person is considered homosexual, it is socially not accepted. Men nowadays would be in fake relationships to cover their gayness. If their sexuality gets out, there is no telling what will happen. The Laura Kastner article shows how toxic masculinity influences them to commit harmful crimes.
“An analysis of the Orlando nightclub shooting tragedy in 2017 described toxic masculinity as a specific model of manhood geared toward dominance and control. Boys and men are supposed to be in control and invulnerable, and when they aren’t, they are ashamed. The shame turns into resentfulness, hate, and self-loathing — a toxic brew, especially when guns and social media get into the mix.”
We cannot be mad at men for doing something like that. Just like women, they are influenced by everything and everyone around them. The only difference is the position of a man is the complete opposite of what they expect of a woman. This means it leads men to believe that what a woman is known for is considered weak in comparison. Since that is the case, it makes men feel that those emotions are not accessible to them. Sarah Shepard’s article explains my point further:
“In many ways, ‘manhood,’ like ‘womanhood,’ comes with many expectations in the United States. As a society, we value kindness, compassion, and care in women more than we do in men. We also positively associate men with being protective and negatively associate men with being emotional, according to the Pew Research Center,” Sarah continues… “This does not mean that men aren’t caring, compassionate, or emotional, but we, as a society, don’t value these traits in men and that can lead men to believe these traits aren’t valuable.”
This leads men to put absolute pressure on themselves to not connect with their emotions. Since they are not taught how to deal with their feelings upfront, this continues to be handled in an unhealthy way. Sarah Shepard goes into detail:
“Men tend to keep so much bottled up inside. This includes all the traumas and heart-breaking moments. Eventually, there has to be a release. And too often that is explosive.”
by Andre Styles
Imagine how it must be for minority men. Not only do they have to deal with the toxic masculinity being pushed by society but the hardships they go through because of their race. Whenever we think about it, society caters to White males and their needs. When it comes to looking out for men of color, they tend to ignore them. The article called “Mental health in Black communities: challenges, resources, community voices by the national alliance on Mental illness” talks about statistics of people receiving health care:
“Socioeconomic factors can make treatment options less available. In 2018, 11.5% of Black adults in the U.S. had no form of health insurance. The Black community, like other communities of color, is more likely to experience socioeconomic disparities such as exclusion from health, educational, social, and economic resources. These disparities may contribute to worse mental health outcomes.”
How does this relate to toxic masculinity? This connects to it because one racial group takes their own masculinity more seriously than others. This can impact a man’s thinking and make them overcompensate for something unreasonable. the article, America’s views on masculinity differ by party gender and race by Juliana Menace Horowitz talks about who depends on masculinity most.
“Relatively few men (9%) say it’s very important to them, personally, to be seen by others as manly or masculine, while 37% say this is somewhat important to them. Black men are more likely than white and Hispanic men to say it’s very important that others see them as very masculine (23% of black men say this, vs. 7% of white men and 8% of Hispanic men).”
If you think about it, the struggle of black men has gone back for a hundred years. Since they were treated like animals back in those days, Black men have used masculinity as an outlet to feel powerful in some way. Since the culture is only teaching this point of view, this turns out to be their only option when handling their emotions. Juliana Menace Horowitz shares more results from researchers:
“The survey also found that many men say men face at least some pressure to engage in activities that are sometimes associated with “traditional masculinity.” More than eight-in-ten say men face pressure to be emotionally strong, with 41% saying men face a lot of pressure in this area. About six in ten (57%) say men face pressure to be willing to throw a punch if provoked, 45% say men face pressure to join in when other men talk about women in a sexual way, and 40% say men face pressure to have many sexual partners.” This quote proves my point that the majority of men, especially black men, let the pressure of masculinity impact their own decision-making.
Especially when it comes to Black men, they are the most feared and mistreated individuals out of the bunch. Since the media has pushed their ideas of what a Black man is, it has left them in the crossfire between their struggles. The article patriarchy and toxic masculinity: The impact on black families talks about how black men get treated on a daily.
“Invisibility Syndrome” – according to Dr. Boyd Franklin, Invisibility Syndrome is a paradoxical process in which African American men, because of their high visibility, are perceived with fear and distrust and are often ignored or avoided by white society. This fear, avoidance, and anger often directed at African American men as a result of racism can have a devastating impact on self-esteem.”
It is very common for men to put down other men regardless of their status. Rather if it is class or even race, other men feel better about themselves when feeling they are above other men. Where is this all coming from? Ever since the very beginning, White men have always put themselves on top of the food chain. Even during slavery times, white Europeans have found ways to degrade the Black man.
White men made the rules regardless if they were reasonable or not. They abused their privilege in order to let men know who was in charge. The article Defining Black Masculinity by Chuck Hobbs talks about what White men put Black men through.
by Haley Lawrence
“The so-called “Slave Codes,” which would later become the “Black Codes” during Jim Crow, meant that for over 300 years, Black men could not look White men in the eye; grown Black men were called “boy” by White men, White women, and even White children; enslaved Black men could be killed for learning how to read, and were brutally lynched by overseers for even the mere allegation of being “too familiar” with White women.”
Understand that Black men were put in a position where they are a part of a certain hierarchy. Each man in society has a place where they are set based on their identity. Since White men have more resources and access, that puts them on top of the food chain. With that kind of power, it allows them to not only treat them horribly but also to take advantage of the privilege. A popular YouTuber called Tee Noir has a video called Masculinity, submission & a Black Woman’s place, speaking on how the hegemonic masculinity saga places a part in society. In the video, you see another YouTuber called F.D signifier, share his thoughts on the matter:
“Hegemonic masculinity is a concept that builds upon the elements of the critical theory, R.W. Connell, a sociologist that presents this theory basically says there is an ideal performance of masculinity that gets all the patriarchy perks. Everybody doesn’t get all the patriarchal perks. So that’s something that I talk about a lot is that we have to be more critical of how we talk about patriarchy;” F.D. signifier continues.
“We will put a queer Black man in the same space as a White dude when there are levels to this shit. So at the top of the level is hegemonic which is an ideal hegemonic man. This is a good rich, White, or depending on where you are in the world; a heterosexual man who has access to capital. The way we construct masculine performance in general in a patriarchal society is that every man is expected to pursue that ideal even if that’s not their life.”
It starts to give certain men fantasy of the ultimate male figure they want to be. Even if it is impossible to reach, it still makes them closer to those standards. Let’s face it, that is not their reality. Since they have to struggle to survive, the mistreatment of black men continues. Just imagine going through what black men have gone through. The Chucks Hobbs article showcases the struggles they continue to deal with:
“Free Black men were still subject to whippings by the KKK and affiliated degenerate white males deep into the 1960s; free Black men were prevented from voting and beaten or killed for even trying to register to vote deep into the 1960s; free Black men still were subjected to being removed from their car…on a date…at gunpoint…so that degenerate white males could rape and defile a young Black woman, as was the case on Tallahassee’s Southside in the late 1950s.”
by Olu Famule
Black men had to deal with harassment as well as discrimination from here on out. Even though they are deemed to be more masculine than other races, society lets them know that they are still not enough. They are in a position they cannot control overall. This gets to them mentally because still to this day, Black men struggle with the intergenerational trauma they continue to face. In the article, the curse of slavery has left an intergenerational legacy of trauma and poor health for African Americans by Michael J Halloran explains my theory.
“The poor general state of African American physical, psychological and social health demands a comprehensive response from researchers, health practitioners, policy-makers, and the community. The cultural trauma experienced by African Americans over the more than 300 years of their enslavement has been transmitted to the current generation and is related to their current general state of poor health. This perspective implies strategies to strengthen the resilience of African American cultural worldviews would remedy the negative impact of cultural trauma on their health. Indeed, interventions which harness cultural themes (e.g., racial, respect, cultural identity and values) act as a protective factor in the health of African Americans and significantly reduce anger and aggression in African American adolescent males.”
These built-up emotions lead people to lash out. Unresolved trauma can be dangerous if a person does not know how to handle it themselves. You have to understand that hurt people end up hurting others in the process. When it comes to people having that sick mentality, it leads them to commit crimes. The Michael J Halloran article showcases research being done on crime in the Black community:
“Similar comparisons of social health show homicide rates are higher, black men are 5 times more likely to be incarcerated than Whites (5 percent of the African American male population are incarcerated in many American states), and illicit drug use and rates of intimate partner violence are highest among African Americans.”
What does this mean? That some people benefit from masculinity while others tend to struggle the most with it. When dealing with toxic masculinity, can put some people in harm’s way. Since black men follow those toxic stereotypes the most, it makes them a threat to white society. Just the presence of a Black man brings fear into some White people’s hearts. Whenever a black man commits a crime, this leads them to be the main target for the police. In the article called, “How toxic masculinity helped kill George Floyd” Paul Butler talks about how toxic masculinity puts black men into unfair situations:
“Much commentary on the broken relationship between police and African Americans focuses on anti-Black bias and structural discrimination. While it’s hard to overstate the role that race plays in policing, gender matters, too. Legal scholar Frank Rudy Cooper has described encounters between the police and African Americans as “Who’s the man?” contests. Some cops perform their masculinity by showing off their power and control over Black bodies.”
Police officers often use their toxic masculinity. Especially when it comes to protecting the neighborhood. Police officers are trained to hold certain people accountable more than others. Just look at the past court cases, White criminals are not sentenced the same as Black criminals. Which explains why Black men serve sentences that are 19.1 percent longer than white men who serve similar crimes. Why is that the case?
The courts do not look at facts when it comes to prosecuting someone. The look at the identity of that individual and who seems to most likely commit that crime is extremely unfair. The article called “Black men to get longer prison sentences than White men for the same crime: a study” by Erica King talks explains why this happens:
“Violence in an offender’s criminal history does not appear to contribute to the sentence imposed” except as it may factor into a score under sentencing guidelines, the study said.
No matter where Black people turn, the odds will always be stacked against them. This affects a Black man’s mentality. Since they were taught to not connect with their emotions, they feel they do not need to seek help. This is unfortunate due to the fact of their racial trauma, they tend to suffer the most. Black men will use any pride left. In the article, “Black Masculinity and Mental Health: How to move past outdated roles and encourage better care,” Maia Niguel Hoskin explains my point:
“Researchers who examine how Black masculinity and norms affect help-seeking behavior among Black men have found negative outcomes. In a study of Black men who were experiencing mental health challenges published in the July–September 2016 issue of Behavioral Medicine, notions about Black masculinity both exacerbated psychological and emotional challenges such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD and prevented the men from seeking help to address those challenges.”
When it comes to toxic masculinity, it is more than just struggling to be the ultimate man but what labels are added on to contribute to that experience. That doesn’t mean Black men can’t start finding new practices on how to heal from it. What Black men need to realize is that there is nothing wrong with asking for help. Sometimes reaching out goes a long way. In the Maia Niguel Hoskin article, psychologist Neal-Barnett and Barbara Shabazz create a list Black men can learn and benefit from.
You have nothing to prove. Dr. Shabazz stresses that Black men who are experiencing psychological and emotional health challenges have nothing to prove to anyone but themselves. Of course, there are obligations to loved ones that must be fulfilled, but prioritizing mental and physical wellness so that you can be more present for those who love and depend on you is essential.
Treatment, in all its forms, is entirely confidential. All counselors are ethically bound to maintain the confidentiality of their clients and are subject to losing licensure if they fail to do so. Neal-Barnett encourages Black men to not worry about those skeletons; they are safe with their therapist and psychiatrist.
You can pick your mental health professional. Sitting down and sharing your deepest and darkest secrets can be difficult for anyone, regardless of biological sex or racial or ethnic background. But one of the great things about seeking services is that, in most cases, you can select the professional with whom you feel most comfortable.
There is no shame in seeking treatment. You have probably heard this a million times, but it’s true. Neal-Barnett says sometimes the most courageous gesture we can make is to ask for help.
Counseling, therapy, and psychiatric treatment are not for “crazy” people. This is a stereotype that needs to be retired once and for all. Shabazz emphasizes that counseling is for anyone who wants to speak with a nonbiased and objective professional in a confidential environment.
We have understood that we as a people were not properly educated when it comes to dealing with masculinity. Since negative stereotypes about masculinity have been perpetuated throughout the media, we as a community need to find ways to heal from it all. The article, “Negative effects of toxic masculinity and how to heal” by Kinsman and Co., gives all men advice on handling it:
“Healing toxic masculinity is a job for everyone. It starts with allowing space for masculine folks in our lives to feel safe opening up, and showing them that vulnerability, nurturing, and community goes hand-in-hand with strength, logic, and bravery.”
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