Toxic Masculinity?

What does it take to be a man? What does masculinity (I don’t even like that word) look like in this day and age? It’s a dicey topic because someone will always be offended, it’s either “boo hoo victim complex” or “you’re a simp”, so I was hesitant to even write about it. But here we go, I’ll try.

To me, it’s not so obvious what masculinity means, even though I regularly read articles about it and they’re mostly titled something like “the crisis of masculinity” and focus on how men as a whole are failing. And it’s not wrong: More and more men are dropping out of education and society as a whole. Most crimes are committed by men, most homeless are men, most drug addicts are men, most sexual predators are men, most video game and porn addicts are men, most scammers are men …
So I can understand women who say: What the hell is wrong with men?

The main reason is arguably biology (maybe it’s the Testosterone). There are more men on the extremes of personality and intelligence, on both ends: more super-geniuses but also more total idiots (it’s still no justification for shitty behavior of course). Men are typically more risk-tolerant, more self-destructive, more confrontational, and a lot of men have an almost manic drive to do stuff and build things and rise in the ranks of the social hierarchy.

But there’s no doubt that there are societal and cultural factors that make men go crazy or opt out as well: It starts in school which by design seems to suit girls much better – most teachers are women and boys don’t always sit still get pacified with Adderall. Preferred hiring of women seems to be the norm not only in academia and politics, but in more and more major companies. Divorce and spousal support laws can be brutal for men, “mom gets the kids” seems to still be the go-to verdict. Ah, and there’s the military thing (still mandatory for men in many countries) and the forced circumcision of babies. Men aren’t encouraged to go to the doctor, prostate cancer now kills more men than breast cancer kills women, but it basically gets no media attention. There are almost no men’s shelters, there’s almost no support for male domestic violence victims or mental health problems. Sexual abuse of men isn’t taken seriously.
It’s not surprising that so many men try to escape this reality with porn and gaming or cope with drugs. Suicide rates of men are 3 to 4 times higher than women’s in most Western countries, making it the most common cause of death for men under 40.

Don’t get me wrong – I think feminism is good and it’s great that we make progress in elevating women and addressing obvious injustices they faced historically and still do. But that doesn’t mean that men’s issues don’t exist. Problem is, men mostly suffer in silence, because they have no real lobby. I suspect we’re afraid to ask for help because we feel we don’t deserve it.
It seems women side with women by default (it’s called in-group bias), and men … also side with women, mostly, because men see each other as competitors and threats first and foremost, and not as brothers.

Dating seems to be an evergrowing pain point for young men, with one in three men aged 18 to 24 having had no sex last year (probably much more during the pandemic). Online dating seems to be especially rough for men who aren’t super hot and outgoing, and a lot of them seem to complain about  skyrocketing standards of women who, despite all body positivity and inclusion talk, seem to mostly flock to the traditionally masculine, tallk, extroverted jock types.

If I had to pinpoint the problem, I’d say it’s this: Many men feel that their problems aren’t being taken seriously because they’re seen as inherently disposable and worthless unless they become useful and successful and thus earn their right to be loved.
I’ve read somewhere: Women are human beings, men are human doings.
This is why we men are so obsessed with sex, making money and being cool – because we crave validation, we want to fill that hole inside of us and prove that we’re good enough.

To me, that’s the main mistake we make: We look for proof of our worth in the external world. We want someone to pat us on the back and say “good job, you’re a good boy”. But no amount of external validation will fill that void.

Eventually, we’ll have to find that worth within us, we’ll have to self-generate self-worth.
Or, simply said: We have to start believing that we’re ok and worthy right now, the way we are. I know almost every Hollywood movie told you the opposite, that you have to FIRST become a hero and almost get yourself killed to help others. And THEN, once you’re proven that you’re a perfect selfless hero, your peers will hopefully accept you and your crush will maybe love you back.
You’ll have to stop believing that brainwashing that we men have been buying into since forever, and usually we’d end up as cannon fodder in some senseless war as a consequence. Or, nowadays, dying of a heart attack because we work all the time. Or overdosing on drugs because we’re ashamed that we’re not successful and attractive enough.

To accept ourselves, we have to be comfortable with our flaws. By the way, I think we should start calling out body shaming against men (it’s not okay to say “he must have a small dick” or “he’s insecure because he’s short”). We should stop shitting on men who dress and behave “out of the norm”, who are more fluid in their sexuality and their gender identity, and end that cycle of toxic masulinity that harms us men, too. (Women should make an effort to be more tolerant in this regard, too).

And we men should build closer friendships and have each other’s backs, because we cannot wait for the world to start realizing that we have emotions too and that we’re worthy of being loved and appreciated.

By the way: I’ve explored this topic further in my Bedtime Show on YouTube (e.g., talking about dating problems, role models and how to learn to open up).
If you enjoy these, I have weekly Bedtime Shows on my Patreon.

😴 What might help you find calm

Intentional ASMR Picks:

Unintentional ASMR Picks:

  • If you don’t mind a bit of background music, actress Liv Tyler showing how she does her makeup on Vogue’s channel was great (she has a superb soft ASMR voice!)
  • I found this surprisingly relaxing as well: Producer Michael and Kevin O’Leary talking about their Watch collections (there’s a part 2 as well)
  • Wow, this tutorial on good posture and elegant walking by Jamila Musayeva was perfect for unintentional ASMR (loved her accent)
  • Not the most relaxing theme, but this B&T Silenced Sniper Rifle assembly was oddly satisfying and relaxing – so I looped it