As mothers to sons, we worry about the toxic masculinity many of our boys are being raised around as well as the possibility of this toxic masculinity being a precursor to radicalization. Toxic masculinity has been defined by psychiatric expert Dr. Terry A. Kupers as “the constellation of socially regressive male traits that serve to foster domination, the devaluation of women, homophobia and wanton violence.”
One mother I spoke with recently, shared this:
The issue I think is how boys are raised in this country. They are also unaware victims of archaic American patriarchy. American men are raised to be too insensitive. They are expected to act like “men” when in reality I think my son is sweeter than that.
This mother was speaking specifically of the internet personalities that her teenage boy (on the brink of college) is surrounded by and flocking to guides for his life.
Just days before, I was at a cafe on a Sunday afternoon with five other women from around the world, all leaders in human rights, media and storytelling. We had an incredibly candid conversation on trauma and feminism, among other things. I couldn’t help but noticing the fact that just by talking, we were able to unburden ourselves by bringing these traumas to the surface in a way that men just aren’t often able to do.
The opportunity to do that as men is isolated even further in a modern digital world. While outdoor time, retreats in the wilderness with friends and so forth are still there for men, they seem less accessible (or at least less promoted) compared to father figures and fireside tales at the click of a finger — a pop-up tribe of men connected through the ether of the world wide web but physically distant from each other.
In that place, there is no room for intimacy. It can’t possibly exist there.
Moreover, I wonder how much of the pull to what patriarchy is looking like through internet personalities is pushed in part by the hyper-feminist rage, leading young men to actively seek out toxic voices they feel best represent masculinity.
I also wonder if they remain there until they are pulled out of it by being offered a better alternative.