The only way we can put an end to toxic masculinity is by taking action against it in the present moment and bringing up girls and boys the same way.
Speak Out When You See It
Don’t remain silent when you’re exposed to toxic masculinity. When the conversation in your male group takes on a misogynistic tone, a homophobic one, or becomes racist, don’t take it as a cue to look the other way.
Allowing toxic masculinity to spread is part of our social conditioning, not how men are, and one of the first steps to combatting it is to get out of this way of thinking. Part of our duty as we mature is to unpick old ideas handed down from previous generations and question what being a man really is.
We’ve evolved in much the same way as everything else has. We drive and fly instead of ride horse-drawn carriages, play casino pokies online rather than go to land-based venues, and enjoy the absence of many diseases thanks to getting our vaccinations early on. The times have changed and it’s up to us to change along with them.
One way to do this is to call out the trolls on Twitter and other social media platforms that perpetuate toxic thinking. Think of them as ogres guarding the status quo, shivering bugbears frantic at the gates of their straw castles, too scared to address their unethical systems of control.
Kill the Culture of Excess Work
The belief that men need to be at work all the time without taking his family’s health or his own into consideration is deeply ingrained in us, and so fighting it takes on a revolutionary aspect.
We need to start creating a culture where paternity leave is a valid reason for missing work and where we don’t need to be on standby 24-hours a day. If you’re a boss, you have the power to alter this way of thinking for the team you’re in charge of by ensuring that weekends aren’t spent at the office. You can be kind of employer who makes it clear that flexibility to work around the natural peaks and troughs of life is a priority and the type of manager who empowers his team to do a good job by ensuring they get the rest and time off they require.
Understand That Big Boys Do Cry
Don’t humiliate the men around you when they get upset. Don’t tell your sons to toughen up. Resilience is quite different from ignoring feelings and refusing to deal with the circumstances as they are.
Teaching men how to recover from difficult conditions is not the same as instructing them to follow out-dated ideas of what being male looks like. Make sure that you, and the men around you, know that it’s okay to despair, to fail, to feel fear, loneliness, and sadness. Understanding these feelings and harnessing the lessons they give us the chance to learn and turns emotional denial into the ability to bounce back and then some.