[Answered] “India’s culture of toxic masculinity is incompatible with democracy and exacerbates social conflict.” Comment.

Demand of the question
Introduction. What is toxic masculinity.
Body. Issue of toxic masculinity and solution.
Conclusion. Way forward.

Toxic masculinity refers to gender norms and beliefs about masculinity that not only harm society but also negatively impact men themselves. Most commonly, these beliefs stem from the male pride or privilege that establishes men as the superior. The persistent use of phrases like ‘men don’t cry’ or encouraging aggressive behaviour amongst boys are some examples of toxic masculinity. This behaviour is termed as ‘toxic’ as it leads us to associate damaging or violent behaviour with masculinity. Abuse, domestic violence and other crimes against women are closely related to the problem of toxic masculinity.

Toxic masculinity is against democracy and exacerbate social conflict as:

  1. Suppression: Toxic masculinity dictates that the only emotion men can express is anger, which can hinder men from getting in touch with other things they’re feeling. Eventually, this distance men from other people and keep them from developing close relationships with their partners and kids. Suppressing emotions lead to aggression and violence towards women.
  2. Encouragement Of Violence: Toxic masculinity promote violence as the best way for men to prove their strength and power, and it discourages them from releasing their feelings in other ways. This often lead to abuse especially of women.
  3. Discouragement Of Seeking Help: Men are less likely than women seek help regarding their mental health, which is likely due to ideals of masculinity. The ideal of a tough man who doesn’t struggle with any emotions can force men to withstand untreated mental health problems. This lead to depression, conflicts, fights and abuse in relations.
  4.  Perpetuation Of Rape Culture: Cultures that encourage masculinity, specifically in fraternities, often lead to rape culture. It lead to development of feeling of dominance and hierarchy in mind of men. Toxic masculinity dictates men that their identity hinges on their ability to exert dominance over women, and one common way that men use to assert their dominance is through sexual assault and harassment.
  5. Patriarchy: Toxic masculine perpetuates the idea that being like a girl is a negative trait. Toxic masculinity teaches us that men are in charge, which means women are not. It teaches that men are superior and women are inferior, that men are strong and women are weak. Thus by attaching certain characteristics to men and valuing them above qualities associated with women, toxic masculinity encourages a culture that encourage male gender over female. Toxic masculinity, thus lead to patriarchy in the society.
  6. Against democracy: Democracy preach an egalitarian society where all genders, sects are equal. Toxic masculinity encourage male dominance and consider female as inferior and unequal. The central feature in the culture of toxic masculinity is domination, which is deeply incompatible with a freedom-sensitive, egalitarian ethic.
  7. Anti-empathetic: Aggression is natural and desirable in men. A real man should be eager to pick up a fight. Men must be tough muscular and unemotional. They must not grieve and cry. Toxic masculinity lead to men who do not accept the other’s point of view, who don’t show empathy and understanding and gentleness and compassion. This lead to destruction of sensitivity among men towards others especially women.

What should be done?

  1. We need to create platforms for young men to share their fears, their doubts, and their insecurities about sexuality, patriarchy, masculinity, and the burden of expectations they bear.
  2. We need activities that are not only political or religious, but that get young men together to unlearn gender norms and learn equitable behaviour. It can be sports, music, theatre, or even bird watching, so long as it allows young men to be free from narrow, negative, and gendered identities.
  3. The government and private sector are already running skilling programmes across the country. Integrating a gender lens into these initiatives to make them address questions of gender-based power structures in the workplace, and sensitise both men and women to them, would be both cost-effective and societally useful.
  4. Civil society organisations that work with girls and women could be engaged with to share learnings, provide support, and even aid in designing programmes for men and boys.

Traditionally, men were considered to be breadwinners of the family and expected to shoulder all the responsibility, where a man goes out for hunting while the woman takes care of home. Though times have changed, this belief system being passed onto generation to another haven’t changed. The belief system powered by toxic masculinity finds it difficult to accept a woman with power. We need to change this to progress with time.

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