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How Toxic Masculinity Harms Men

By Shravya Prabhu

It is no secret that cisgender men are largely favored in South Asian society. This is obvious at birth itself, with common preferences in families for sons. Recognizing cisgender male privilege in South Asian culture does not mean we are to overlook the violence that men as well face. This is a result of toxic masculinity, which is upheld in a patriarchal society to oppress women and transgender folk while also backfiring to lead to violence against men as well.

Patriarchal stereotypes create expectations for men to act tough and aggressive. The expression of vulnerability is stigmatized as a sign of weakness. Bollywood films have perpetuated this trope since the 1960s. Male mental illnesses and suicide are large consequences of such expectations. The stigmatization of vulnerability in men also makes it difficult for sexual assault survivors to come forward, whether the perpetrator is another man or a woman, as it leads to fear for survivors of seeming weak. It is thereby for cisgender men to address such conceptions of masculinity in order to challenge and dismantle patriarchy.

Patriarchal institutions in our culture clearly breed stereotypes and expectations for people of all genders, which allow for cycles of various forms of violence to exist. Therefore, it is imperative for cisgender men to recognize their privilege under patriarchal society, educate themselves continuously on the struggles of both marginalized genders and other men, and challenge toxic masculinity and various cultural stereotypes.

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