A pinch of dominance and a dash of buffoonish authority. A handful of hierarchies. Or not. We will give two. Some homophobia and narcissism. Oh man! Sprinkled… Now only to mix properly and voilà – the decoction of toxic masculinity is ready!
Honestly, if I could be a man one day, I’d probably be … heartbroken by this fact.
Because being a guy is a minefield of conventions, a barrage of implicit accusations, a set of unwritten rules and a string of uncontrollable ups and downs(pun intended).
What does it look like?
Your value is directly proportional to the paycheck you bring home, you never order a salad in front of a woman because it doesn’t inspire confidence, and you’re painfully aware that the mere rumor that you shed a tear during a screening of “My Friend Hachiko” could amount to completely burying your reputation. According to the accepted pattern, you do not have permission to have a worse day (disability or depression not to mention), and once in a while you feel the obligation to sputter like a sack and prove that you are a “real man” (of course, you only pound vodka, because wine is for babes). When you fearlessly reach occasionally for a pan scraper and wash the dishes, you arouse in your partner the kind of excitement that the combination of vitamin D and K in one package breeds in retirees.
There’s no denying that being a man is hard work. It starts at an early age, when boys are shown less warmth and the goal is to raise an emotionally handicapped individual. The individual is then indoctrinated to fulfill a narrowly defined role as an advocate whose only language becomes internal self-censorship.
Interestingly, although men, in general, enjoy more rights and privileges than women, within their own gender they have much less room to maneuver. After all, it’s only girls we tell that they can be whatever they want. Boys are reminded to stop acting like faggots. Differences can be seen in every facet of life. The sight of a woman in pants has long since ceased to shock, and the jaywalking, dirt-suit-wearing welder from the cult film “Flashdance” is for us the epitome of sex appeal. ALSO when he is wearing a tuxedo. How we perceive a guy in an analogous role is shown by the example of a married guy who made it to the front pages of major news outlets because he came to work in stilettos and skirts. It’s hard not to notice that there is a double standard (which, for a change, for once works in favor of women). A guy has cultural permission to pounce on bears and fight them for meat, but if someone finds lipstick in his jacket pocket, he is automatically suspected of homosexuality. Toxic masculinity does not allow the slightest deviation from the ideal.
The banana-ridden archaic model of masculinity is like gluten in processed foods – it can be found everywhere. Its uncritical approval contributes to swelling the ranks of a blind army of cyborgs who are denied their right to full humanity. But as long as the world is deprived of an alternative model of masculinity, there will be a wronged boy hiding under the shell of every “tough peasant,” and we will be fighting for equality only part-time.
Although the hegemonic version of traits identified with guys offers us a rigidly defined set of ideals without the possibility of adjusting the norms to suit our needs, there is quite a bit of space between Janusz Korwin-Mikke and Rysiek from the Klan. So, instead of imposing a settled mold on men, let’s give them the right to choose how they want to fill that space, and let’s not forget that masculinity is not an obstacle to equality. It is part of the solution.