Over the past few months we’ve been hearing about “Toxic masculinity “, a new concept, which might be a little difficult for many people to fully understand. But what is it, really? Simply speaking: a set of old-fashioned beliefs according to which men must be the epitome of dominance and strength, avoiding what’s considered feminine at all costs. Unfortunately, the constant need to feel and look masculine often results in acquiring traits of misogyny, above all, and sometimes even homophobia. In a patriarchal society, men are not allowed to express emotions, feelings, or simply cry; though most people don’t realise it, forbidding men to show their emotional side it is not only toxic to the community as a whole, as to men themselves. Research shows that toxic masculinity has negative effects on
both mental and physical health: men who typically go by these rules are more likely to experience depression, stress, body image and substance abuse issues, certain types of cancer, cirrhosis of the liver and, finally, sexually transmitted infections.
On social media we come across the more shallow side of toxic masculinity, due to the fact that the most discussed topic is whether or not men should be able to wear dresses, use nail-polish or even wear make-up. There have been a few celebrities who decided to go against the traditional gender norms; the most notorious case is undoubtedly the British singer Harry Styles, being featured on the cover of Vogue alone, wearing a Gucci ball gown: not conventionally masculine at all. The cover has raised criticism from prominent conservative politicians, who defined him “a clown” or “ridiculous”.
Is it a man expressing himself, even by being feminine, so upsetting? It’s 2021: society must begin to worry about more urgent issues than an innocent man in a dress.