July 4, 2021 5 By Ian Elroy Ogonji

We were having a discussion in the TYM ENGAGE WhatsApp group the other day – we do it daily. The question was, “Is it bad for a guy to watch soap operas?” There were mixed reactions from both genders. Some appealing that soap operas doesn’t target a specific gender and if they did, all actors could be of the same gender. Whilst some, went aggressively to defend their masculinity saying soap operas exhume emotions and empathy which they termed as ‘unmanly.’

It’s not new to your ears. We have seen it from our traditions and cultures that men are direly expected to be aggressive, risk takers, dominant to command respect. We have also heard from people around us ranting that “men don’t cry.”

Haven’t you also heard that suicide is common among men? That men would rather bottle up their anxiety and insecurities than talk it out and loose the ‘man card’.

Toxic masculinity has been there. Infact, it was coined by the mythopoetic men’s movement of the 1980’s and 90’s geared to second-wave feminism.

The Good Men Project, an initiative that aims to challenge public perception of what it means to be a man in the 21st Century, describes toxic masculinity as a form of manhood that’s defined by violence, sex, status and aggression.

In the present world, ladies have been showered with empowerment whilst the boychild is left swimming in neglection and cultural norms that equate masculinity to control and aggression. The guideline released in 2019 by American Psychological Association for working with boys and men, majored it’s focus on traditional masculinity. Traditional masculinity is believed to power the men’s mentality of being stronger than women. It’s believed that being a man means not showing emotions, lest you appear weak.

Men cork guns against feminists asserting that they are trying to ruin the ‘man’s ego’, that they are instilling a weakling gene in men. Logically, detoxification of masculinity is an essential pathway to gender equality; the kitchen is not for women only, changing diapers can as well be done by men – I mean, I have seen ladies working at construction sites.

In papers, toxic masculinity has been blamed for rape, murder, online trolling, violence, terrorism and even climate change. The big question is are all men toxic?

When empowering the ladies, men on the other flip should also be reminded periodically that women are not sex objects, that resorting to violence does not resolve differences and also it’s okay for men to show emotions. Toxic masculinity doesn’t solely affect the boys and men who exhibit toxic behaviours, but also the people around them.

All men are not toxic and masculinity doesn’t give a green light to anti-feminity. You can be compassionate, anxious, emotional, empathetic and still be masculine. It’s about time men normalized talking out their emotions without the fear of being categorized as a sissy. Right about now, men should shun homophobia and fragility when fellow men don’t display typically masculine traits. Men, “boys will be boys” is never an excuse for bad behaviour, violence or aggression, and the next time you watch Luwi crying on Maria, just join him bruh.