By Omoye Uzamere
I am a co-host on a talk show called TW Conversations and basically women gather around in a lounge to have conversations about all sorts of things. The topics aren’t usually about women, but you can imagine that sometimes, we can’t help it.
One of them is Toxic Masculinity and I’ll admit I had never heard the phrase before, so I read up on it. Check out the definition:
“An adherence to traditional male gender roles that restrict the kinds of emotions allowable for boys and men to express, including social expectations that men seek to be dominant (the “alpha male”) and limit their emotional range primarily to expressions of anger.”– Wikipedia
So basically, when children are raised to believe that boys and girls are different emotionally, as they grow older, boys are expected to express their strength alone and forced to bury their softer side – It limits them to a lean variety of emotions.
The result is an adult who doesn’t have a grip on his emotions, doesn’t know how to express himself or handle an emotional situation. He has a lack of emotional intelligence and it is toxic to have human beings who are stifled. When a woman is stifled, she is afraid to express the side of her that society finds offensive because it is perceived as unfeminine.
For example, if she wears certain clothes, her sexuality or sense of demureness is in question; if she works in oil & gas, “she might be loose, because women who work in that field are men” (true story guys!!); the list goes on and on.
A stifled man, on the other hand is a boy who was not allowed to cry when he was hurting physically and otherwise, not allowed in the kitchen, could show no sign of weakness or vulnerability… when what should have happened was to teach him to appreciate all aspects of humanity and to be strong notwithstanding his feelings.
When he grows up, he becomes a man who only translates all his emotions through variants of the following: annoyance, distraction, pensiveness and boredom.
Crying is a release of emotional pressure, not a sign of weakness. Human beings are colourful. What makes us interesting is our range of emotions. It’s like a beautiful home with different pieces that come together – some are rough, round, hard, soft, bright, pale… each different, yet when they come together, complement each other and give the home beauty and balance. It’s like a pot of soup with many different ingredients. If you had only onions, pepper, ginger and palm oil in the pot, it’d taste horrible. If you only had salt, seasoning cubes and garlic how would you eat it? How about vegetables, tomatoes and periwinkles alone… But when all the ingredients come together the right way, you have an incredible tasting pot of soup, rich and textured – balanced.
We have to allow all the emotions come together the right way and the result is a balanced man. I think feminism is as a result of toxic masculinity and yes, there is toxic feminism.
We are taught to believe toxicity is only in men who are brutish, brash and bullies, but there are so many men living in a toxic masculine situation without knowing it; good men from decent backgrounds.
Think about it like this: an alpha male who was raised to be the savior of a woman is not a bad thing until he has a wife who is unable to pursue a career because he is busy doing such a good job of providing for and protecting her. Part of that leadership is allowing her the freedom to fulfill her passions; letting go. One cannot be in control 100% of the time.
A person is a balance of emotions, not a product of our expectations. We need to start telling people that it is okay to be vulnerable, we need to be a safe place for another man’s vulnerability and we need to be confident in who we are without the validation of another.
Image credits: The Nib
Read also: #ActingOutLife – Acting Builds Empathy
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