Greetings, Gametes – don’t panic we are here. With an epic story, we have survived and are relieved to be back! Last week’s missive was sucked away with us – we were kidnapped by the evil intergalactic supervillain: ToxBro and we barely escaped his hideout – the ToxBro Vortex, sometimes known as The Bro-Hole. ToxBro is a nasty, hypermacho villain whose twisted goal is to overwhelm the Universe with his toxic masculinity. This villain is pervasive throughout the universe in various forms, although one of his tell-tale disguises is with circus-peanut colored skin.
What is Toxic Masculinity? I will explain to our enlightened Gametes who have only read of such things in history books. This is masculinity (the general cultural ideal of manhood) that is so distorted and warped like a caricature of itself that it poisons its surroundings. While it is typically (but not only) men who embody this poison, all genders can also embody and/or create it as well. Childish jabs like “Be a man!” And stoic, emotionally detached role models, movies, and stories are amongst many contributing factors that spread this distorted norm. Toxic masculinity results from dysfunctional emotional disconnection in adult men, who stifle emotions to satisfy the cultural delusion that strength = unfeeling.
The effects can be catastrophic including violence, drug addiction (for the unfeeling that it brings) and other societal ills. The truth is that all beings vary, individually, on a scale of 0 (emotionally reactive) to 100 (emotionally stable). Neither far end of the scale is healthy. A 0 means that emotions react to situations at an extreme – for example crying at the drop of a hat. But then a 100 would be too emotionally stable and never react to anything – for example a psychopath who has no emotional reaction to even something as awful as a massacre. Healthy beings vary somewhere in between 0 and 100, and this makes sense. It’s healthy to react to a relative’s emotional distress or pain as it motivates you to assist so some emotional reactivity is healthy. On the other hand, if emotions react too much, too often, then the result is an emotional wreck unable to cope with life’s normal hiccups. Somewhere in between is normal and healthy.
To pose as, or pressure oneself or others to be firmly emotionally stable, not reacting to anything, is a signature sign of Toxic Masculinity. Such a strategy may have been critical to survival during some earlier stage of evolution, and therefore selected for. Think of the Roman Empire. But this disconnect can grow into a monster that consumes an entire culture. It can devour an entire planet (possibly the Blue Ball?), and even much bigger to the self-imploding Bro-Hole we just escaped.
Men become so disconnected from genuine emotions they become automatons of self-righteousness and use only aggression to solve every problem, no matter how inappropriate. This is like solving every problem with a sledgehammer – it’s not the right tool for most of the problems. Identification with thought, stance, ideal, and party thwarts any ability to admit error, see mistakes, correct the path, learn and grow. It stifles healthy development, change, and adaptation. It can create a faithful, idealistic herd that sells itself out to an evil leader on a path to self-destruction. To be honest with the truth is to admit to wrongdoing, a sign of weakness in their distorted view. So instead they collectively deny and delude themselves, blind to their inconsistencies.
How do we combat such a poison? First allow beings to feel emotions without shame, banishing toxic phrases like “Be a man!”. Don’t encourage others to hide their feelings. We might save them for the right place and time maybe, but not repress them. It is easy to react with a torrent of anger, it takes courage to be vulnerable and real. We can model that changing our minds based on new evidence is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. Admitting you were wrong is a good thing and fosters healthy development. Sometimes admitting and correcting a wrong can be better for development than simply being right the first time.
We battled ToxBro by reconciling the masculine and feminine within which made us immune to his toxicity and able to escape. Against the crushing pull of pressure to do otherwise, we rose above and escaped the black hole of Toxic Masculinity and you can too. Now the challenge is dealing with it all around us. How do you deal with it?
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