White Males & Toxic Masculinity

I have a question for everyone about how to popularize being non-masculine (or, at least, popularizing the replacement of the current status quo definition of “masculine”):

Every white male abiding by the rules of toxic masculinity (that I have met) has had to live with that person inside their own mind too. Most men want to leave this world of toxic masculinity. Or, they probably would, if they consciously heard how they spoke to themselves everyday and how that degrades their mental health, others’ well being, and society over-time. But, so often, men walk into public and feel this requirement to wear these behaviors that will ensure they fit the creed of the masculine male. 

“Non-masculine” men are made fun of so frequently that it typically makes men want to stay above that embarrassment. Movies, tv shows, advertising, and media influencers show frequent examples of toxic masculinity. In our homes and in public, we see frequent examples of dominance, promiscuity, being stoic, championing heterosexuality, and not engaging in household chores (just a few examples of the issues).

It takes a massive amount of courage to go against the grain from such a violent status quo and such a massive norm. I am taking those steps of courage, but it has taken so many years of unlearning and relearning…and, I have also had to accept this lonely pursuit as I lose friends and don’t seem to fit in with the majority of new acquaintances I meet. But, to me, it’s been worth it because (to be honest) I never had a real connection when I tried to join the masculinity train anyway…and now all I want is true and natural connections with people.

My question is, how do we make these “steps of courage” towards a vulnerable and sensitive male more popular? That is how a major shift in white males flocking to this “way of being” will happen. If their friends are doing it. If their idols are doing it. The transition away from masculinity would be so easy without guys bashing each other for resembling a sensitive human being (a paradox as we are inherently sensitive creatures).

It is natural to be vulnerable and sensitive. Otherwise, it wouldn’t impact our mental health in such positive and beneficial ways. Also, once we allow our vulnerability and sensitivity, we are more warm and humble with others…making it easier and more natural to connect with and love one another. I also believe it would change the way our society and communities gather and support one another too.

I don’t know how to change the world. But, based on my experience, I think leading by example and showing others through personal evidence will help popularize giving up masculinity. 

I am excited to hear your perspective on answering this question!

Faded to the grain
Can’t hear the mumbling complaints
Where canons rust
Swim against the current with trust

Running up hill
In the morning when waters are still
Ropes are cut
Unclear patterns when eyes are shut

About Kevin Carlstead

I graduated as a hospitality and psychology student at University of Denver. I spent most of my teenage and young adult years in the hospitality industry. I am still searching for what industry suits my personality and talents so that I can feel more meaning throughout my days. My current career pursuit has me enrolled in a graduate program to become a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I was born and raised in San Diego, CA. I love music with something to it. I love life with something to it. I have made it one of my purposes in this life to integrate both of these things that I love. This blog and my own songwriting has given me the platforms to do that very thing. Thank you for reading.
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2 Responses to White Males & Toxic Masculinity

  1. Eugenie Carlstead says:

    Hi Kevin,
    well this is another tough one for a few reasons. Men are absolutely put in their gender box/cage and expected to strictly follow the rules, as you point out. Women are in a separate but lower status box. The price men have to pay for this favoured position is almost a full break with their own humanity.

    If a man leaves the box, he must surrender these and he would be on the same”lower level” of a woman. Because there has been a modicum of progress for women elevation, they can more safely exit their box, if only for a few hours. This helps men because it begins to blur the difference between the genders, allowing for more variety of expression of their essential selves.
    The move toward men accepting “their feminine side” is hopefully still a voice speaking to the crowds.
    To make things more difficult, characteristics, qualities, behaviours themselves are coded either masculine or feminine so if it is someone who is sensitive, artistic, caring, who is male, he is often ridiculed as being the lesser, feminine sex. A woman can briefly, but more easily, transverse the terrain to exhibit male coded behaviour because of its elevated status.

    I am not sure how to solve this but I have tried every which way not to have to be more vulnerable in my life but the essence of who I am only comes through when I have to courage to say “this is who I am” knowing that a third of the people may think–great, another third may think–boring, whatever, and another third–they just don’t care and may not even be paying attention.

    So I say we let her rip, and run toward our true self and know “[We] are not a troubled guest on this earth, [we] are not an accident amidst other accidents, [we] were invited from another and greater night than the one from which [we] have just emerged” (David Whyte). Yes, so I say “go vulnerable” can be our new slogan. Or “Reclaiming our Humanity” or “I will not be kept in a box.” Slogans obviously need some help.

    Thank you for bringing up this topic. I do hope we keep moving in the direction of really seeing each other and each other’s humanity.

    Grateful, Eugenie

    • I love the David Whyte quote and your information, perspective, and answer to my question. Thank you for sharing!

      It is quiet often a scary outcome when a person denies their own and others humanity. It was very nice to see the transition in the Oval Office happen yesterday. Much more needs to be done. But a cry full of tears of relief came over me as I watched.

      What gives me hope is the poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, becoming president someday in her future. That would be a bright future with a bright mind and a beautiful soul.

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