Don’t Be Such A Cry-Baby (or Toxic Masculinity Is Only Part of the Picture)

June Gruber, Jessica L. Borelli for Scientific American on “The Importance of Fostering Emotional Diversity in Boys“:

As early as infancy, boys’ and girls’ emotional landscape differs. One study reported that when watching an infant being startled by a jack-in-the-box toy, adults who were told the infant was a boy versus a girl were more likely to perceive the infant as experiencing anger, regardless of whether the infant was actually a boy. Gender differences in the diversity of emotion words parents use in conversations with young boys and girls also emerge.

It doesn’t stop once you reach manhood. If it is isn’t fathers AND mothers telling boys to “toughen up”, “stop whining”, “boys don’t cry” and other bullshit that keeps men suffering in silence and inappropriately stoic about their emotions, then it is every-fucking-body and their little sister telling us what we are allowed to feel, when and how.

If we say we are sick, we get mocked with “man-flu” and called weak.

If we say we’ve been raped, we get told we “must have wanted it”, “need to shake it off”, “must be weak” and a gazillion other things.

If we are a male rape survivor and talk strongly about our own issues, we get shamed with “you must be triggered” before arrogantly silencing us.

If we are tired for any reason and express that even briefly, again with the “men are weak” brigade and their toxic fucking bullshit. Heaven forbid you’ve been up for 50 hours straight (AGAIN) for the 75th week in a row because you have two full-time jobs and don’t get sleep so you can pay the rent while your spouse recovers from a pro-longed hospital stay. That is considered “weak.”

If it isn’t people who mean you harm then it is coming from your so-called allies or people you love. If you object, you receive gaslighting and gendered mockery.

This is shit is far more complex than simply pointing a finger and saying, “toxic masculinity hurts men too.”

Then, after all of that shit, you get shamed by advocates for not sharing your feelings or opening up fast enough.

Do you really blame us?

When it is a woman telling a man he is “weak” and mocking him for being sick due to exhaustion and a compromised immune system by using taunts about “man-flu”, that isn’t toxic masculinity at work.

That’s hate. This shit is far more complex and sickening than a simplistic, gendered talking point can possibly encapsulate.

The end result of gendered mockery and gross generalizations will never be more openness and exploration. It will be more of the same, with some extra misery on top.

If you want to be part of the solution, start by abandoning the hate in your speech. This is a real problem. If you want a real solution, you have to start by seeing those affected as real human beings, not props for ideological warfare.

One comment

  1. Agreed. It’s shameful to use “patriarchy” or “toxic masculinity” cop-out while using the “man-flu” rhetoric at the same time. They trot out the “men-are-weaklings” because “womenz-make-babies” then excuse female domestic and sexual abuse because “women are weaker and can do not much harm” or “they haven’t got systemic power to oppress so it’s not as serious”. Surely their arms must be tired from constantly moving those goalposts.

    On the lighter side, may I recommend this programme from the UK to you, James?

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