Boys will be boys is not an excuse: Addressing toxic masculinity

Kayla Lipscomb | Staff Writer

Gillette, a razor company, used a commercial called We Believe: The Best Men Can Be to address male privilege and toxic behavior that is accepted by men by showing scenes from a TV show where a man is groping a woman, showing bullying and showing belittlement of peers in the workplace. The commercial ended with an act of teaching boys to do morally correct actions and giving respect to others and not making the excuse “Boys will be boys” again!

The commercial later received backlash, and many took to social media to discuss toxic masculinity and whether or not it is real.

Toxic masculinity is a difficult phrase to identify. Some may say it’s using masculinity as an excuse to act repulsive and framing the “boys will be boys” concept when displaying misbehavior. The term toxic masculinity, also known as “hypermasculinity” in some cases, refers to the negative exaggerated behavior that is implied to describe men, such as aggression, sexuality and physical strengths.

The American Psychological Association recently issued guidelines to address toxic masculinity. The guidelines focus on four sectors: needs of men, multiple masculinities, changing the culture and supporting the positives – which include breaking stereotypes of social norms, hierarchy within power and interactions in relationships.

“I think the issue of toxic masculinity needs to be addressed, and we need to stop playing into it,” said senior journalism major Jarrell Dillard, associate editor of The Script. “If more people took a stand against it, people might start to change their ways.”

Dillard, who is from Maryland, discussed his experience with it.

“I have experienced toxic masculinity mostly from older men that I’ve been around,” he said. “I feel like men in our generation still exhibit it but not as bad.”

Although some people believe toxic masculinity is not as prevalent, today’s issues – such as the #MeToo movement, gender equality and some cases of violence – show we have not gotten past this barrier some men create.

The expectations many men are taught are: emotions shows vulnerability, they should suppress their problems, and to be aggressive as a display of pride and manliness.

“Our patriotic system breeds men who are aggressive, and if they aren’t big or strong and bold, they aren’t man enough,” Planned Parenthood community organizer Thia’a Rahman said.

However, occurrences like the Gillette commercial are bringing this important topic of masculinity to the forefront of social conversations that need to be had.

Hopefully, through discussion and action, we can reframe masculinity.

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