Mens Health

Is Anti-Masculinity Toxic to Men?


Society now dedicates enormous attention to the well-being of people who fit into historically marginalized or oppressed categories. It goes well beyond preventing discrimination, but even limits words, phrases, and figures of speech that might be offensive. Academia, government, and the media all have adopted these policies out of the belief that even “microaggressions” can have harmful effects. But if that’s true, then why would such harms only apply to marginalized populations? Why wouldn’t those harms apply to everybody, including men, and even masculine men? In other words, why do we seem to only care about hurting some people’s feelings?

It’s a confusing time to be a boy or a man. In 2019, the American Psychological Association published a position paper concluding that “traditional masculinity” is psychologically harmful to men and boys.1 British psychotherapist Phil Mitchell calls out the terminology: “‘Kill All Men’, ‘Men are Trash’, ‘Male Privilege’, ‘Manspreading’, ‘Mansplaining’, ‘Toxic Masculinity’, ‘Patriarchy’, ‘Oppressors, not oppressed’, boys and men can’t turn a corner these days without hearing some phrase generalising males as privileged, abusive or scum.”2 He suggests: “Perhaps it’s worth wondering … how such attitudes may influence practice and behaviour that could subsequently adversely affect boys and men.”

In his commentary “‘Toxic Masculinity’ is Toxic Terminology,” psychologist Dr. John Barry, co-founder of The Center for Male Psychology, concurs that with “rare exceptions, the majority of information about masculinity we are exposed to is unreasonably negative.”3 Dr. Barry was a co-researcher on a pilot study published in 2020 that “found that around 85% of respondents thought the term ‘toxic masculinity’ is insulting, and probably harmful to boys.”4 Yet the term seems quite acceptable to mainstream commentators.

It’s a confusing time to be a boy or a man. In 2019, the American Psychological Association published a position paper concluding that ‘traditional masculinity’ is psychologically harmful to men and boys.

In July 2023, the International Journal of Health Sciences published Dr. Barry’s new study assessing the views of over 4,000 men in the UK and Germany, which found that thinking masculinity is bad for your behavior is linked to having worse mental well-being.5 Conversely, he notes, “positive views of masculinity are linked to better well-being.” Seems pretty obvious, no? “It is almost unthinkable that we would need research to show that telling someone they are toxic can lead to having a less positive mindset,” notes graduate psychology professor Jack Darkes, Director of the University of South Florida Psychological Service Center. “And if one complains about being called toxic, it will be used as evidence of their toxicity.” Spot on. Any pushback is most likely met with an eye roll. Interestingly, being older was a significant predictor of mental positivity. “Older men grew up in a time when traditional manhood was valued,” notes Dr. Darkes, “and incorporation of this value into their core beliefs may make them less susceptible to messages of toxicity.”

Is it coincidence that an increasingly gender non-conforming, non-binary culture would gravitate away from embracing traditional gender norms? Of course not. But the fallout may be ugly. “Society is in danger of demonising boys and young men,” writes Nick Fletcher.6 “They are lambasted in schools by toxic masculinity crusaders and denigrated in popular culture. This environment is having a crushing impact.” Not a pretty picture.

It may be time to rethink. There’s an emerging effort to inclusively embrace everyone on the gender spectrum, even masculine men. Fitness guru Ali Gilbert is the “Queen of Men’s Health” and the founder of the Silverback Summit, a premier event dedicated to men’s health education delivered in an unfiltered, entertaining, and authentic manner.

I chatted with Ali about the sad state of masculinity during an interview for the virtual version of her Silverback Summit7 and look forward to joining her and countless experts in men’s health at the Live Event this November 9-11 in Austin, Texas, including awesome speakers like Dr. Eric Serrano, Stan Efferding, Bedros Keuilian, Jay Ferruggia, and more.8 The Silverback Summit skillfully merges the realms of medicine, fitness, and business, fearlessly delving into a wide array of men’s health subjects that others mostly shy away from, including masculinity, body dysmorphia, TRT, PEDs, diet, and training. No other event quite like this exists in the world. In an era when masculinity is evaporating, Ali leads an event for men who offer no apologies for being the men they are and want to be their best in every way. Hopefully, I’ll see you there!










The post Is Anti-Masculinity Toxic to Men? appeared first on FitnessRX for Men.

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By: Rick Collins
Title: Is Anti-Masculinity Toxic to Men?
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Published Date: Fri, 04 Aug 2023 12:35:49 +0000

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