Masculinity is enforced in boys as soon as they can learn to speak. Boys are told, “real men don’t cry.” They are encouraged to play with trucks and not Barbies. Even though they might have other hobbies, parents encourage boys to play sports. Parents and guardians encourage boys to be tough. And society expects men to be tough as well.
Besides, we cannot blame parents for encouraging their son to be a certain way. Parents are just confirming these rules that have been existing for generations. They might be enforcing these rules on their sons without even realizing it. Parents unknowingly or maybe knowingly do this to make the life of their child easy. Because of that, confirmation is critical.
However, this idea of “what makes a man” is hurting all generations of men. Toxic masculinity demands men to physically strong, emotionally callous, and aggressive. Men are put under extreme pressure to be masculine in emotional and physical ways.
The conformity even causes men to sacrifice their mental and emotional wellbeing. Any other behavior other than being manly is seen as a sign of being “feminine.” Like talking about your feelings is girly. Taking good care of yourself makes you “a girl.”
In such ways, toxic masculinity perpetuates the idea of homophobia and aggression. And not confirming these stereotypes causes them to lose the status of being a man. Again, this constant pressure is added to boys’ shoulders so much that they lose the ability to form connections with other men.
The emotional burden of masculinity
Hence, researchers are eager to look into the role of toxic masculinity in harming men. According to psychologist S.R. Wester, the traditional gender role of men causes them to restrict emotions. Men restrict their emotions because they lack social support among their male friends. They perceive that restraining emotions is a way to emphasize their strengths among their peers.
However, poor emotional and social support for men from their friends has negative implications. Men have lower social connectedness due to traditional gender roles. It also affects their mental wellbeing. Not talking about your feelings and emotions with someone who has the same experiences can be challenging.
Therefore men find it hard to share their hardships in life with other men. They never reach out and instead internalize their feelings and emotions. They choose their female acquaintances to express their difficulties. And in the lack of close female family members, men suffer in silence.
They feel ashamed and scared to reach out for help. They conceal their distress, have feelings of social isolation, and have difficulty in managing personal problems. It has a poor effect on their mental health and wellbeing.
So, toxic masculinity takes positive male friendships and social support away from them. Men feel shame in reaching out and asking for help. They bear the burden of dealing with their feelings and emotions by themselves, eventually leading to unresolved mental health issues.