The term toxic masculinity really sums up the macho attitude and mentality. We live in a culture (our culture is certainly not alone in this mentality, actually it is a very rare culture that doesn’t embrace this machismo) that emphasizes and admires the tough, rugged, aggressive man. You will see him incessantly on TV or in the movies, you will see him in the video games and in the sporting arena. He usually gets the girl in the movies and is the star of the TV show and movie. He is the superhero and the famous rapper who glorifies aggression. He is a ladies’ man and can be aggressive towards them, as aggressive is aggressive, and it’s hard to compartmentalize this behavior. The ladies hate this behavior but still can’t resist this guy. After all, he is probably like their dad or whom their dad admired. He is usually portrayed as a good guy (but not always), but don’t fuck with him, or he will knock you out. Kind of like a good Neanderthal. As this is a cultural, almost universal norm, it is difficult not to get sucked into this mentality; I certainly was. So was my dad who hung out with the Detroit mob and carried a shotgun in his trunk and a pistol under his pillow. His brother would tell stories of all the fights, and I actually witnessed a few. This had a huge influence on me, as I’m sure his upbringing on the streets of Cleveland had a huge influence on him.
Yet dominance and aggression are not met with too kindly by other dominant and aggressive people, and as like attracts like, those people are headed toward you. Our prisons, hospitals and morgues are full of the by-product of that collision. In order to protect themselves from that collision, men join forces with other like-minded men, to form an uneasy bond that pacifies their fears and reinforces their bravado. This is called tribalism. After all, there is strength in numbers; just watch a wolf pack or a lion pride. It is all very animalistic or again, Neanderthal. This tribal mentality cannot be confined to the microcosm of the human interaction, but transmutes into the macrocosm of religious, ethnic, partisan and national identity, leading to cultural aggression and dominance which are not met with too kindly by other dominant and aggressive cultures as like attracts like, and the by-product is pretty fucking ugly.
Some recognize the stupidity of this toxic masculinity, as they pay homage and put up on the pedestal Jesus, who taught to turn the other cheek, and Mother Teresa, who was devoted to a life of compassion, and Gandhi, who faced his enemies head-on but never threw a punch, and Martin Luther King, who urged non-violent protest. Yet we don’t have the strength and cultural support to align our life with these examples. So these images sitting there up on the pedestal are getting quite dusty, as our attention stays fixated and enamored with the toxic man who dominates our media and stimulates a false feeling of safety, as aggression and dominance are antithetical to tolerance, equality and peace.
Man, I miss that TV show Kung Fu and Kwai Chang Caine.
Where is the gentle man? Where are his TV shows, movies and computer games? Where are gentleness, humility, integrity and compassion expressed in our media? Our boys are helpless, as their young fragile psyches are inundated with machismo and toxic masculinity.
I see toxic masculinity and machismo as a tremendous weakness; a tremendous fear being catered to by a culture too weak or uninspired enough to address it, and people who are afraid of not being accepted by their peers, who are afraid to be thought of as weak or as cowards, afraid that women will not be attracted to them, and afraid they will not be able to acquire all they were spoon-fed to believe they should have, and afraid to stand out. Really, we are just simply afraid. Those beings we put on the pedestal demonstrated real strength and bravery, and they did it with gentleness and humility! These great beings are fighters, yet they know the real battle is within, not without. The real battle is to be dominated by wisdom instead of fear and vanity. The real battle is for peace, and the battlefield is our mind, and the enemy is ignorance.
Lets take a baby step together. Read “The Wisdom of James Allen“ and practice to develop benevolence: https://poweryoga.com/class/cultivating-joy-meditation-3/