Understanding gender can be really tough and the contemporary term ‘toxic masculinity’ goes over many people’s heads. But still, millennials really need to understand this concept and actively talk about the perils of skewed gender expectations.
That’s because we are a part of a global village connected through internet and we have this golden opportunity to learn about new ideas and improve ourselves.
Ok. Let’s straight away come to the point now. Our society has over the ages created very rigid gender roles in which both men and women are expected to act in a certain way.
Toxic masculinity or unrealistic gender expectations from men include the instances where men are expected to not behave in a way which is considered to be non-masculine or feminine.
‘Men don’t cry’, ‘mard ko dard nahi hota’ are some of the stupid phrases that have probably been thrown at us since childhood making majority of men believe that if they choose to show their vulnerability to others, they will be considered as ‘feminine’.
“It is not just the society but the media too which influences our mindsets in a negative way. Look at the bollywood movies or product advertisements. Men are shown as strong and dominating all the time. This is just plain silly,” says Deepak Singh, 27-year-old theatre artist from Delhi.
This argument definitely holds true. Look at the popular movies or Bollywood superstars and the kind of roles they play. It sends out a message that aggression, repression and dominating behaviour is what makes a ‘real man’.
So, how does this harm men?
Let’s be honest; Everyone goes through rough patches in life and sharing your feelings with others can really lighten your burden.
But in a patriarchal society, men are supposed to keep it all in and deal with their suffering alone because apparently ‘that’s what makes you strong’.
This building up of anger, disappointment and negative emotions can lead to a mental breakdown or in extreme scenarios it can force people to take drastic steps like attempting to take their life.
So, it is clear that such patriarchal definition of gender not only makes women suffer but it also affects the men equally and it is the youth who can actually break away from these age-old unrealistic expectations.
“Gender discrimination is everywhere. As a girl, i am expected to behave in a more docile manner but the same is not expected from my brother. I have seen how he was always reprimanded for ‘acting like a girl’ whenever he cried or showed pain. This is just poisonous and it disgusts me,” says a 23-year-old student from Jaipur who does not wish to be named.
Putting up a strong exterior can only help you in one way – it makes sure that others don’t worry about you but that is all it does. In fact, it takes away any chances of others extending any help to you.
What should be done?
Criticising the gender expectations or toxic masculinity does not mean we are advocating that everyone should shun the masculine traits. That would be counterproductive and equally rigid like the concept that we are fighting.
In actuality, it means that everyone should be made comfortable with the kind of personality they have and not be pressured in a direct or indirect manner to act in a specific way.
If keeping strong in tough situation works for you then great – you should totally do it but if it doesn’t, everyone should have the choice and freedom to let it out.
In a nutshell, it should be entirely your decision as to how you want to lead your life and others’ unrealistic expectations must not influence who you are. Stop judging others and also stop limiting yourself!
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