By Daniel Francis
In my time in New Orleans for my undergraduate degree, I was fortunate enough to get a global perspective. One of the classes I took was on gender studies and I was very interested in the portion of the class that dealt with toxic male behaviour.
I was interested to hear what this was all about. At the time, I was already aware of some behaviours I adopted from my environment that were perceived as toxic.
I learned that when we express typically positive attitudes, like being a protector or provider, to an extreme level is when they become toxic. If, for example, as a man you believe that you are the sole protector of your spouse or household and begin acting aggressively toward any party that wants to assist them, this is seen as toxic.
Fast forward to the present day. As I process the many interactions and experiences I have had here in Trinidad and Tobago, I note our toxic male culture and how it helps create toxic male behaviours.
This unnecessary need to be seen as aggressive and almost angry to fit this role of strength. To fit this role of ‘man’. How some men are run by their egos to the point of extreme narcissism.
The one toxic behaviour that I find most troubling is the erasure of morality towards being faithful to one’s partner. Of course, I can’t speak to the women’s experience of this but from what I have seen on the men’s side, many men come across as very selfish.
I understand that we live in a time where social media has made it very easy to compare what you have to what you could have. The “grass is greener effect” can tempt the strongest of us to do things we would sooner regret, but does adulting not call for us to show some level of discipline?
I have been privy to many conversations with male groups where most express cheating as a normal activity. To me, it seems like they have convinced themselves that this is a ‘privilege’ that they have been bestowed on. A ‘privilege,’ mind you, that they keep secret from their significant other or risk all hell breaking loose.
Thinking about the toxicity of the male environment reminds me of something I learned in one of my classes in New Orleans. It was called the ‘male gaze.’ It is the act of seeing women and the world, from a masculine perspective where women are represented more as sexual objects than individuals.
I remember not fully grasping this concept until I watched an ad for a smoothie and the highlight of the ad was a woman scantily clad drinking the smoothie in a sexually suggestive manner. This ad was created in a way to capture a man’s attention and we see many examples of this everywhere.
Men are accustomed to seeing the world from this ‘male gaze’ lens. If you mix this with toxic male role models and toxic male environments, it is a recipe for men who have a warped view of the world and whose behaviours are questionable. Unfortunately, their behaviour will seem normal to them.
I see this toxic behaviour as a cry for help. A cry to satiate this instant gratification and greed within us that we have been conditioned to fill at all costs.
It cannot, however, be filled by any earthly desire because we will always want more and more and more. More of the wrong thing will never bring satisfaction. As corny as it may sound, the only true satisfaction comes from the peace created through God.
I have often noticed that the men that appear the most toxic do not have a relationship with God or church. It is easy to disregard what God can do for us when we are so steeped in our own lives. Yet, when things fall apart, He tends to be the first person that we call.
We as men need to do better and it starts by healing internally. No man will truly understand the damage that they are doing without self-awareness. I believe that bolstering your relationship with God will force you to see who you are and begin the process of repairing the damage done to your morality.
Only then will the toxic male behaviour seem outrageous.
Daniel Francis is a millennial helping other millennials. He is a two-time author of the books The Millennial Mind and The Millennial Experience, and an entrepreneur. Over the past four years, he has served as a Personal Development Coach whose work targets Millennials and helps them tap into their full potential. He is also a Self-publishing coach and has guided hundreds on self-publishing their book successfully.
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