This community taught me not only what toxic masculinity demands of men and masculine people, but also the possibilities that exist outside of it.
A couple days ago I wrote a short story in which a young character is bombarded with toxic masculinity “life lessons” by his father. It occurred to me today, while I was reading this, that if I continue his story some of these same points will have to be addressed. And any explicit discussion of toxic masculinity will mostly come to him through members of the queer community as he grows up and begins to explore his sexuality.
He’s going to have to figure out…
- That it’s okay for men to hug and make other physical gestures of affection, platonic or otherwise.
- That he’s allowed to cry and be vulnerable when he needs to be, instead of constantly suppressing.
- That it’s totally unnecessary to feel uncomfortable when his boyfriend wears makeup. And/or offers to put some eyeliner on him.
As Sam points out in his post, “An essential part of dismantling toxic masculinity is men taking ownership over their own education around systemic inequality, and taking on the labor of educating other men about it as well.” And so considering this character learned most of this toxic stuff from his father, it seems fitting that he should unlearn it mostly from the guys in his life.