But one must understand, like every other thing in the world, masculinity is just a social construct1. Society dictates what defines being a man, and because men have grown accustomed to being at the top of hierarchy, letting go of the power and privileges that come with it is not easy. That is why we retaliate, and respond with hatred and anger—which is why toxic masculinity is almost tantamount to fragile masculinity.
Look at all the things that men frown upon: effeminate behavior, wearing the color pink, showing emotions or crying in public, homosexuality, the reality that women can be better. The list could go on.
Meanwhile, the media2 plays a big part in reinforcing the idea that men are more powerful and are void of the things mentioned above. Men become engrossed with the idea that they must be superior, even if it means treading on everyone else.
As stubborn as men are, we have to face the truth that Gillette is right. Men are now associated with bullying and harassment, most likely because we don’t want to be seen as weak, emotional, and small. Cases of assaults and bullying have grown over the years, and the list of victims are mostly women and the LGBTQ+community. Men push down anything that puts their masculinity at risk, and resort to harsh words and punches.
If society dictates what being a man is, then isn’t it time we change as a society? How long will it take before men realize the world is too full of hate and toxicity? Gillette is right, the boys of today will become the men of tomorrow. We might be the problem, and choosing to accept it than repeatedly deny it can be the first step.
Men have to accept that we can cry when we want to. Men have to accept that the color of our shirts do not define what we are (except maybe our fashion taste). Men have to accept that women are fully capable of doing what they wish to do. Men have to accept that there is nothing wrong with being associated with what society tags as unmanly—creating our identity is fluid3 anyway. Accepting all of the above does not make us any less of a man4.
Being a man should not be limited to physical looks, but to how we act among ourselves and toward all the other members of society. More than being a man, we are human.
Becoming a decent person4 is truly the best a man can get.
Featured image by Roc Verdera.
1 – Canete, R. R. (2014). Masculinity, Media, and their Public in the Philippines: Selected Essays
2 – Strahan, E. J., Wilson, A. E., Cressman, K. E., & Buote, V. M. (2006). Comparing to perfection: How cultural norms for appearance affect comparisons and self-image
3 – Zimmerman, C. (2016). Toxic Masculinity: Why Big Boys Don’t Cry
4 – Lim, M., & Purnell, K. J. (2018). Kalalaki Mong Tao: A study on the influence that masculine images in Philippine films has on its male audiences in regards to heteronormativity
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