Ep. 40: Unpacking “Toxic Masculinity” and How to Overcome It
Welcome to the 40th episode of Las Doctoras! Today’s topic (and one which Dr. Renee and Dr. Cristina will continue to unpack in the next few episodes) is masculinity. Being mothers to young boys, this is an especially personal topic for the two. Listen in as they share how they intend to help their sons navigate a culture where toxic masculinity continues to prevail, as well as how they define the healthy sort of masculinity that they hope their sons can embody growing up.
Our hosts reflect on how their parents and grandparents exhibited toxic masculinity in their own unique ways. Having grown up during tough times, that previous generation exercised a lot of that aggression and emotional suppression characteristic of unhealthy masculinity.
Dr. Renee and Dr. Cristina explain how they had to unlearn a lot of what they were brought up with in order to be vulnerable. They speak on their identity struggles as tomboys in high school. Dr. Renee in particular talks about how she grew up “boy crazy”, probably as a way to attempt to validate her femininity, which at the time she thought can only happen via the approval of boys or men.
Because society glamorizes toxic masculinity, Dr. Renee and Dr. Cristina believed for the longest time that they had to behave like men to be successful. This attitude, they say (speaking from experience) leads to burnout. That’s made even worse by the fact that our capitalist society eggs us on to perform beyond our limits.
Because our hosts are intimately familiar with the destructive power of toxic masculinity, they’re determined to ensure their sons don’t end up buying into it as the “ideal” it’s advertised as.
Finally, Dr. Renee and Dr. Cristina invite us to redefine “masculinity” by removing the social constructs around the term in order to pave the way for healthy masculinity.
Masculinity, in and of itself, is not toxic. It becomes toxic because of a patriarchal society. There are beautiful things about femininity as there are about masculinity. The key is to erase social constructs around the terms, just as “fatness” becomes a neutral word if we stop equating it to “ugliness”. Once we acknowledge that, we begin to usher in true, healthy masculinity.
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