Masculinity, the expert: “That’s when it gets toxic”

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What is society asked of those who are born male today? The definition of masculinity has changed continuously, from the age of chivalry to the present day, gradually transforming expectations about men’s behavior, roles and responsibilities. However, there remains the pressure of society to act aggressively, suppress emotions and be in control.

We talked to Andrew Smiler, who was president of the Society for Psycho-logical Study of Men and Masculinities and of MaleSurvivor.org and is the publisher of online publications for the Society for Research in Adolescence. In the bookstore, for Nutrimenti, his new book has just been released, “Is masculinity toxic?”

What is masculinity today?
“The dominant definition of masculinity focuses on having power (or high status), being strong, making your own decisions (and possibly decisions for others), being emotionally unmoved, and being promiscuous. Different countries, however, have different conceptions, based on their own history and culture ».

In which social groups is masculinity still considered a value?
«In groups that give importance to these aspects. For example, among men who explicitly pursue power or money, such as politicians, corporate CEOs or brokers, it is easy to find examples of men who seem to adhere to this view of masculinity. ‘

When could this masculinity become toxic?
“When living like this interferes with the rights, well-being and happiness of other people. For example, men who cheat for status, who engage in sexual harassment because they do not respect women’s right to say no, or do not consider how their decisions can negatively impact others. “

In his book he says that masculinity is also dangerous to physical health.
“Sometimes men who want to adhere to the idea of ​​masculinity are reluctant to go to a doctor because they believe they should be able to do it on their own. And this can create problems. US data indicates that, compared to women, men are less likely to see their doctor and often wait longer to do so, which means that when they do, their symptoms are often worse and therefore their treatment options are minors “.

And what are the psychological consequences?
“Much like physical problems, some men are less willing to seek mental health help. The situation is aggravated by the idea that men shouldn’t show emotions and that, instead, showing them is a sign of weakness ».

When does masculinity negatively affect male-female relationships?
“It happens when the idea that women are inherently inferior takes root in men. This belief structure allows him to consider himself better than half the population, without even comparing himself to it, and supports a wide range of sexist practices. Also, the idea that they should be sexually promiscuous can lead men not to listen to a partner’s “no”. ‘

Should we eliminate the idea of ​​masculinity?
“We can shift notions of gender so that they are less central to a culture, but we should still prioritize something else. In other words, we cannot eliminate the idea of ​​masculinity (or gender) from culture without having something else to replace it. Take, for example, money, which is central to most modern cultures. Can you imagine eliminating the Lira without a substitute (the Euro)? Can you imagine the elimination of cash and coins without a replacement (electronic payments)? We can change our definition of masculinity, but it would be very difficult to eliminate the idea of ​​a specific ideal for men. ‘

Other stories of Vanity Fair that might interest you:

5 celebs who reject the stereotypes of toxic masculinity

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Source: Vanity Fair

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