The term “Toxic masculinity” has become a catchall explanation for male violence and sexism. Predominantly blamed on cultures and absent fathers.
I find that term (label) rather destructive for something that is really near and dear to my heart. When we hear the word “toxic” it immediately has a physiological dissonance and causes us to judge and rebuke.
From my own masculine challenges I prefer the term “Wounded masculinity”. This is how I see/saw my own challenges when trying to be a man in a world where being manly meant not showing deep emotions, bravado, strength, sexual prowess…etc…etc…most of which caused me much distress. There’s nothing “toxic” but surely a “wounding”.
By seeing my masculinity as wounded I could be more empathetic towards myself and be more willing to work on this wounding. Something I am ever so glad I did. There were many moments over the last 41 years when I wished I could just give in to the moment’s pain and cry my heart out. I knew this would be so good for my body, as it was what my body needed. Although when you grow up around adults that tell you “stop crying” and you get physically beaten when you didn’t, I learned the sad art of ‘emotional suppression’. It soon became ‘men don’t cry’. Which is so not true!
I could go into each of the traits that constitute “wounded masculinity” but my wish here is to say that when we class emotions and learned behaviors as “toxic” we only seek to distance further the men that are hurt by no fault of their own and surely no fault of their carers. Me first! No little boy “asks” to be taught to detach from his feminine side or conceal their healthy masculine. Our primary need as little boys is to survive and if survival means acting out, suppressing emotions, ….we survive right?
I believe as a start to “healing” these wounded masculine energies it would be beneficial to stop labeling them negatively at first. It’s a challenging feeling when you’re torn between compassion but being unable to go there due to emotional blockages. There’s a deep shame that’s created and it only drives further the disassociation of emotions. There’s no surprise that there’s a high correlation between men with suppressed healthy masculinity and illness.
To heal a feeling we have to feel the feeling
When we aren’t familiar with a feeling we tend to shun the feeling
Calling in all men, let us start our healing journey, let us look at our inner child, let us hold it with compassion, let’s aim to override our childhood conditioning so that we won’t pass it onto our children but also in order to form healthy relationships between us and women overall.
What have you got to lose?