Hyper Masculinity for Toxic Gender Inequality Essay Example


Looking left and right, while researching for this essay, we saw one thing constantly. The constant labeling of any type of negative behavior in men just pointing to “hypermasculinity”. In Jennifer Newsom’s film “The Mask You Live In” and in many of the readings we did, it pointed fingers at many of the problems due to raising children to be “masculine”. While I believe many men are toxic, I don’t believe masculinity is the reason men act the way they do, there’s a genuine underlying issue in the United States and we just don’t want to accept this fact. Labeling horrible behavior and unspeakable acts that a lot of men do isn’t due to “hypermasculinity,” it’s because we have a serious mental health issue that we don’t want to address. 

April 3rd, 2018 in the afternoon, a relatively normal day in Youtube Headquarters on Cherry Ave was abruptly interrupted. Thirty-eight-year-old Nasim Najafi Aghdam walked on campus with a 9mm and wounded three innocent bystanders before taking her life. Her father’s comment about the situation, to put it bluntly, was just “she was angry.” Yet, in Andrew Reiner’s article, “Teaching Men to Be Emotionally Honest” Reiner states “Experts point to sexual assaults on campus and even mass murders like those at a community college in Oregon and a movie theater in Colorado. These gunmen were believed to share two hypermasculine traits: feelings of profound isolation and a compulsion for viral notoriety.” While Reiner brings up this genuine piece that causes concern amongst what men can do, what can we say about Nasim? That because she grew up with toxic masculinity being reinforced to her, she ended up shooting Youtube? We as a whole wouldn’t even consider saying that, so why do we always act like masculinity is the root of our problem? 

In the film “The Mask You Live In” the term masculinity is put under a scope. We as the viewers examine what exactly it is about masculinity that makes it so bad for boys to grow up with. It was pointed out that it leads to bullying, glorification of violence in video games, and extreme cases, shootings. Now with these points in mind, how many American boys turn out to be rapists, mass shooters, or an alcoholic in the end? Well in the overall scheme of things, not that many. Yes, statistically many men end up becoming these things more often than women ever do, but is the sole reason from enforcing masculinity at a young age? The answer is both a yes and no. Truth is, many negative behaviors do indeed root from enforcing toxic ideas and behaviors as a kid, but there is also a huge problem that never gets addressed when it comes to this. Millions of men and women in this country suffer from some type of mental illness, and to label these things only from raising a child with masculinity in mind is a heinous crime in itself. 

While I do believe that reinforcing the toxic traits of masculinity can result in causing more harm than good in the future, it’s not the only thing that causes these things. The United States of America is a flawed country but has many perks that present opportunities to those that crave it and know how to look for it. Unfortunately, mental health isn’t one of these things that are taken too seriously in this country. The best example I can bring up is from my personal experience in the USMC. While it takes great courage to ask for help, I’ve seen Marines ask for help when they needed it, only for command not to care. You read about "MCAS Yuma" in Arizona working hard to address their high suicide rate, and how they want to "fix it." Well if they want to fix it, then why is it that a Marine that I've worked with that was stationed there witnessed several Non-Judicial Punishments just from failed suicide attempts being issued during her time in MCAS Yuma? Several Marines had their pay cut in half just for these things, were non-rec(not recommended) for any type of promotion warrant. This doesn’t happen just in the US Military but to the general population of this country. Not caring about each other’s mental health is what creates these issues. The sad reality is that the real world is ruthless. We’re taught to just place a label on things rather than to address the problem for what it really is. 

While many teachings of reinforcing stereotypes can result in toxic behavior, it doesn’t always need to be this way. Boys don’t need to be encouraged to be competitive in sports that don’t involve any type of league. Rather spin it around to where sports are just a good way to teach athleticism in young children. The same take can be spun in many other “traits” and “features” of teaching masculinity. We should be spinning it into a positive thing rather than reinforcing toxic behavior. Overall, we should begin to start looking at mental health issues in a more serious way rather than brush it off like many would in the real world. If we as a whole were to implement this, one little bit at a time, then we can make a more positive impact moving forward.

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