Over the past few years, the phrase “toxic masculinity” has come into the limelight.

The problem? The term suggests that there is a sub-group of masculinity that breaches masculinity. In reality, toxic masculinity mirrors traditional masculinity, stereotypical masculinity, or just masculinity, in general.

The term “toxic masculinity” was first bred in the mythopoetic men’s movement and alongside second-wave feminists in the 1980s and 1990s. It refers to the unhealthy and unrealistic expectations society has imposed on men.

Toxic masculinity embodies a macho, destructive, and (sometimes) violent man who suppresses emotions and exerts sexually aggressive behaviour. The traditional vision of manhood imposes sexist ideals on men, and in turn, results in harm to both men and society.

Assigned (and inappropriate) gender roles have been second nature for centuries. Many people, parents, teachers, and members of society may not know that they are perpetuating the stereotype.

For example, if you walk into a department store and lead your baby boy to the aisle of toy cars, you are instilling the stereotype in them. Furthermore, if your child is injured, and you neglect to console him or respond with inappropriate phrases such as “be a man”, or “shake it off”, you are a part of the problem.

According to the Good Men Project, toxic masculinity refers to a “narrow and repressive description of manhood, designating manhood as defined by violence, sex, status and aggression.”

Toxic masculinity can have a severe impact on both the individual and the broader society.

Impact of Toxic Masculinity


The ideals of toxic masculinity suggest that men, first and foremost, react with violence. Using violence as the plan A with disagreements, arguments or emotional issues can pose a significant risk to a victim, and a criminal record for the offender.

Common assault is punishable with six months in jail or a $5000. Should the crime lead to more significant bodily harm or death, jail time can result in a life sentence.

Despite the apparent repercussions of using violence, it is seen as the most “macho” or “manly” way to handle conflict.

Lacks Emotional Support

The ideals of “toxic masculinity” pose a significant risk with two factors. Men that are expected to uphold a masculine stereotype are (1) expected not to show emotion, and (2) expected not to seek help.

These expectations have proved massive consequences. Men are over 3x more likely to commit suicide by women and are more likely to do it more violently than their female counterparts.

Because men are expected to avoid seeking help, they are often less comfortable finding (and utilizing) resources that could help them cope with life circumstances.

If society had an equal expectation for both men and women, men could comfortably seek professional or emotional support systems that could help them cope.

Increase in Rape Culture

I should preface this section with the notion that I do NOT, under any circumstances, blame anybody but the offender for their offences. There is no excuse for sexual assault. However, it can be presumed that rape statistics could decline should toxic masculinity be abolished.

Men are taught to assert their dominance through aggression and sex. Toxic masculinity can result in rape.

We are especially likely to see this trend in universities. According to the Guardian, almost 1 in 10 female students claims to be a victim of rape during their higher education.

Of course, heavy drinking among college students is a contributor to the epidemic rape that occurs at universities. However, according to a journalist for Glamour, first-year, female students are especially vulnerable to rape. These beginners are often seen as inferior on the college spectrum. They haven’t been accepted into university sororities or made all-star moves within their extracurriculars yet.

Men that display toxic levels of masculinity see this as a weakness, and thus, see themselves as above the freshmen.

Perhaps to a different level of severity, but men have been placed in a box as well.

Enforces homophobia

“Macho” men see their behaviour of hyper-masculinity the societal standard. Thus, creating a stronger barrier between themselves and the LGBQT+ community.

However, more importantly, the terms “masculine” and “feminine” only support binary folk (men and women). The terms masculine and feminine are direct antonyms, and there is no word to signify individuals that fall on the spectrum between the two extremes.

Now that society is becoming more accepting and understanding of the harrowing difficulties that individuals that fall into the LGBTQ+ community, multiple influencers that have pushed boundaries (and improved society) have come forward.

YouTubers such as MannyMUA and JeffreeStar have resisted against the typical gender norm of “manhood”. Androgynous celebrities and influencers have pushed the gauntlet and assisted in creating a more open-minded society, that is quicker to throw gender norms to the side.


Sexism of any level or type has a negative impact on society. Being expected to uphold unrealistic expectations based on a traditional idea of appropriate gender roles is unfair to men.

Though women have faced extreme oppression based solely on their gender, it’s important that society (as a whole) look at the remaining gender stereotypes that. Feminism, by definition, is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the bases of the equality of the sexes.

Neither women nor men should be shackled by the expectations tied to their gender. As demonstrated above, expectations have negative effects on both genders.

Now that we live in a more tolerant and understanding society (in many ways), it’s time to work on demolishing the negative stereotypes that remain from years of misinformation.

Written by Celina Dawdy