Throughout grade school, I was told that the hobbies I had were not very… masculine. I was always known as the quiet shy kid that didn’t want to intrude on anyone else’s personal space, fearing that they would dislike me if I got too close to them. Being disliked and hated was perhaps my biggest phobia in school, so I took refuge in writing, reading, drawing and watching anime. As a male, I was told several times that my hobbies were feminine and “gay”, forcing me to hide my interests and lie constantly in order to fit in.
Often, I found myself not relating to anyone as I was juggling different personas, changing them on a whim. Being judged was the main cause of my anxiety and perhaps pushed me into depression.
Nowadays, I don’t care what people think of me as I’ll never surrender myself to peer pressure ever again, but that was my thought process in school. I now know that this was an example of toxic masculinity.
For those not in the know, toxic masculinity is a form of gendered behavior targeted at males used to describe “manhood”. Example: A male should always be the confident “alpha” who shows no emotions and is extremely aggressive at all times. Doing anything “feminine” is a sign of weakness opening you to ridicule and embarrassment.
While this took place in my school years ago, toxic masculinity is still huge in today’s culture with multiple news outlets stating the new generation is trying to take away men’s “right to be aggressive” and that feminism is destroying the world.
I don’t see it like that.
I believe that we should be allowed to be who we are without being judged so long as you’re not hurting anyone else. What I mean by this, there’s nothing wrong with being a man but there is something wrong with putting down others, calling other males slurs and disrespecting women. Children do that, and we should all be willing to grow and learn from others each and every day. Putting down others will constantly put them into a prison of their own mind leading them to mental health issues that are damaging for an entire lifetime.
Let’s be more understanding and know that we all get emotional and that we all want to be happy. Don’t ridicule others and instead learn from their perspective. Thank you for reading.
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