The concept of toxic masculinity has been around since the 1980's, but it wasn't until the 2010's that discussions moved into the mainstream as people confronted stereotypical "norms" of what is socially considered masculine or manly and how most of them come with negative connotations that harm men and the people they interact with. These days, the conversation is utterly divided.
While some people reject the notion that common manly stereotypes are harmful, others say those people are missing the point. That led one Reddit user to turn to no place else, r/AskReddit.
u/TacoHellDriveThru asked: "What's a form of toxic masculinity you've experienced in your life as a male?" Hundreds of comments rolled in with answers you may or may not have expected....
"Every time I go out in public without her mother I get people watching me closely. I parked my car in a parking lot to feed her lunch a while back (didn't want to take her inside due to COVID) and a group of people gawked and circled our vehicle in their truck a few times. That is not an uncommon experience for me.
I'm legitimately afraid to take her into a family bathroom because I fear some Karen is going to call the police and tell them I am doing something unspeakable because God forbid a man act like a nurturing parent in public. I'm scared I'm going to get a gun pulled on me in front of my daughter.
A lot of people assume that a lone man with a child or adjacent to children is a predator by default.
If they're not assuming I'm a predator, I still get comments like "Babysitting for mom?" No, I'm not babysitting for mom. I am her parent and I'm every bit as capable at it as her mother. Me taking my child to the park and feeding her lunch isn't "babysitting" just because I am doing it alone."
"There are people now who can't taste, smell, or hear properly because they were too stubborn to put on earplugs and safety glasses, since it's 'not manly' to protect yourself apparently."
"I'm sorry, I just don't want to spend my time watching people run around a field. And no, I don't want to play sports video games either."
"I saw a guy fall off his horse and break his leg. He refused to be helped off and insisted in getting back on his horse and riding out. There was an ambulance right there."
"I ordered a lime Margarita and was mocked by both the males and females that it was a girly drink. Same thing when I ordered a long Island afterwards. (I've now moved to cosmopolitans, since three or four can get me happy drunk, and tastes awesome!)"
"We got to pick our jersey numbers. I chose 14 because it was my aunt's number, who was a D1 college player at the time. When I told them this, the coaches laughed at me. Apparently looking up to a non-male athlete was frowned upon, even though none of the coaches made it past high school."
"...but every so often, someone will scoff or poke fun that I put my seatbelt on when we share a cab or an Uber. I don't feel like smashing out my front teeth if the driver gets into a fender bender."
"I have been wrestling with the problem since I was a teen. I refused to see counselors for years until I snapped. As a man the expectations are to "hang tough". "Real men" don't need counseling was sort drilled into my head because it exhibited weakness.
When I became suicidal, I had to leave my job and quite a few people insinuated I was weak. I sought treatment with the help of a psychologist and a counselor. That's when I realized the "manliness" garbage was toxic. I hate sports, cars and bullshit. I spend my time with my awesome wife not weekends with "the boys" ignoring my family. I haven't looked back since."
"Most guys called me gay and that it looked girly. Yet, I was dating more women than ever during that time because a lot of the women I dated loved the hair. So I guess being straight is gay?"
"Examples include: lighting fires under our water pipes to thaw them out in cold weather for hours to fix a blockage, setting our house on fire at one point, when it turned out the block was at an elbow that was easily broken loose once mom found it. Another is his insistence on gluing s**t together with silicone to 'fix' vehicles. If I have a bad day, I clearly need a higher dose of antidepressants, as I'm a man and I'm not allowed to have negative emotions. Launching a piece of plastic into my eye breaking open the box of our water valve and it's my fault because I was 'sticking my face in it'
If the man decided he was gonna headbutt his way through a brick wall, he wouldn't stop until his skull broke. He's ridiculous."
"I just can't. I have a low threshold. I can't have like five shots of tequila and go about my business. I'll be a mess."
"It’s helpful for getting things done but not so good for being mentally healthy."
"They are more fun and have better music, sorry not sorry."
"The only thing I said was that I was "tired". It's stuff like that. I'm actually clinically depressed, but I never talk about it because I'm 6'3" and masculine so I'm not allowed to feel sad or tired."
"As the building management guy who also lived in the building, I was tasked to stay on-site for the entire 10 days to coordinate repair efforts while the rest of the residents left for hotels/relatives' places. On the 7th day, I also got food poisoning and spent the day expelling from both ends while taking time in between to meet with contractors. The then girlfriend came home later that evening to see me pale, dehydrated, shivering, and exhausted in bed wearing all of my snow clothes. She asked how I was, I said "rough" and she went on to say how her day was so much worse because of some office drama. After her rant she asked why I didn't go make myself some tea as if I was stupid enough to not consider it.
She was a self-proclaimed feminist but was always blind to my needs."
"He told his parents the other night that all other guys who go to the gym are 'betas,' while he is a 'biological alpha' and then proceeded to make fun of out-of-shape people at the gym."
"I would go to watch my older sister play hockey, and I’d get made fun of. I never understood what the problem with going to watch a women’s hockey game was, especially one where my older sister was playing."
"I was ringing one day and one of the other register employees was giving this older gentleman a really hard time about wanting a bag to carry his stuff. She said something to the degree of “Come on! You should be able to carry that on your own; you’re a man. You’re supposed to be strong!” The dude had a cane with him. I’m not even sure if she realized what she was saying was demeaning and toxic. I turned around and gave her a WTF look.
She didn’t last too long."
"I hate that
Also growing up I got s**t for not knowing about cars, like cause I’m a dude I should have the knowledge of a mechanic"
"I learned in my 30s that feelings aren't a burden to be suppressed and ignored."