Neo-Nazis and white supremacists chant in Charlottesville, Virginia
Neo-Nazis and white supremacists chant in Charlottesville, Virginia
Getty

In light of modern narratives about the impact of sexism and discrimination, ideas about masculinity are being scrutinised for their potential for damaging men and women.

‘Be a man’, ‘suck it up’, ‘men don’t cry’: these are all directives given to men – often by other men – about how to behave in times of emotional distress.

But the policing of men’s emotions under the umbrella of patriarchy can have a detrimental impact on their mental health, sense of self, and how they interact with women and other genders.

Emerican Johnson, a comedy host at Malarkey TV, released a 15-minute video addressed to men about the dangers of toxic masculinity and why men need feminism.

For a very long… I hated women. I was a misogynist, in the truest sense of that word.

Feelings of inadequacy were exacerbating it and making things far, far worse and causing me to lash out in really terrible ways.

I had built these walls and I was avoiding facing these problems in my life. Nobody had every trained me to open up emotionally. In fact, I had been trained in the very opposite direction – to hide at to bury my emotions.

He recalled that young boys often throw around the word ‘gay’ to describe anything that was deemed too emotional for men.

If you cried, or showed emotion, you were gay. If you wore a shirt that was the wrong colour – that shirt is gay. I said it all the time – that movie is gay. I had to make very sure, it was vital, to make clear that I myself was not gay. It was rammed into the pit of my soul: you can’t be gay.   

[Boys] couldn’t show that they cared about anything… couldn’t show any emotions like sadness or pain. You gotta suck it up, be a man.

I realise – of course – this is incredibly homophobic and I can’t even begin to imagine the trauma that comes with actually being LGBT+ and growing up in this environment. 

He says that such toxic masculinity statements come from a place of ‘fear and anger', whereas healthy masculinity instead comes from a place of confidence and compassion.

Toxic masculinity, he says, makes him both an abuser, and a victim.

The negative impact of patriarchy on men is stark when one glances at both global and national suicide rates: According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) approximately 800,000 people die to suicide every year – one person every 40 seconds.

Research from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention states men die by suicide 3.5 times more often than women. In the UK, suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45, with 75 per cent of suicides in 2015 in the UK reported as being male.

Johnson concludes that men and women need feminism; that the cost of male privilege – the subjugation of women and the erosion of the humanity of men – is too high a price to pay. He says:

I don’t want [young boys] to become damaged like I became damaged. This is why I became a feminist. To protect boys.

To stop men from hurting and killing themselves. That is why we need feminism. The more you learn about feminism, the more you will understand it.

I’m so glad I started listening to women and other feminists. 

You can watch the entire clip, below:

Keep reading...Show less
Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)