Masculinity poisons men

In elementary school, I really liked the idea of dolls. I imagined playing with them and giving them all a story, but how would I have told my friends that I like dolls?

I loved walking around the toy section in department stores and looking at all the toys, but the guns and adventure toys targeted to boys never appealed to me, I wanted a doll. When I asked my parents, their initial reaction was shock. Even though they would later apologize, the message was clear: boys don’t play with dolls.

Even worse, were some of the reactions I would get from some of my friends. If I suggested playing something other than an adventure game, they would refuse because they viewed it as more “feminine.” They would laugh and constantly remind me of what I had said.

Toxic masculinity is beaten into kids’ brains from the second they are able to watch television or read books. This belief is that men are strong and don’t show vulnerability or fear.  As well, this entails that men should either keep their feelings locked up or not have them at all.

Men who have been engrained with this belief since birth begin to suppress their emotions, and as a result can become depressed or suicidal. Today women are able to more freely express themselves, which is great, but men are still confined by masculinity in our society.

The notion that men should be tough is a hurtful one because it sticks for a lifetime. I remember as a kid, wishing that I could have tea parties with my stuffed animals, but I was unable to because I was afraid of what people would think of me. The idea has contributed to a disproportionate ratio of male to female suicide rates, and when there is a problem like that, we all have some work to do.

Men should be able to cry, to participate in more relaxed and reserved activities, to embrace their more feminine side, and not feel any less of a man.

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