Are You Misinterpreting Masculinity?

Posted on February 15, 2023 by


In the past year, celebrities such as Andrew Tate and the fictional character Patrick Bateman from American Psycho have been used as “role models” for the aspiring phrases “sigma” or “alpha male,” which some men use as part of a journey toward male self-improvement.  

This way of thinking has promoted misogynistic behaviors and emotional illiteracy in men and young men. This has been referred to as “Toxic Masculinity.” The term “toxic masculinity” is a rising term amongst teens and young adults in recent years, but what actually is “toxic masculinity?” 

First, it’s important to discuss gender. Gender is a concept that is made up of two key points. One is the stereotypes of the ideologies, behavior patterns, and lifestyles that both men and women experience, and the other is the fact that humans are constantly changing and growing. 

Robert Connell, the author of the book Masculinities, stated that there are 4 types of masculinity. 

Hegemonic is defined by strength, competitiveness, and assertiveness. Subordinate is masculinity that is overly emotional, compassionate, and often referred to as feminine masculinity. Complicit masculinity supports Hegemonic without getting actively engaged, therefore not seeking disapproval of women. Marginals are those who are socially exiled and suffer from self-isolation, so they fail to be Hegemonic because they have or are something that makes them different. This masculinity is expressed mostly by minorities such as Muslims, Jewish, LGBTQ+, and more. 

According to, boys are raised, in certain societies, to be, “strong, active, aggressive, tough, daring, heterosexual, emotionally inexpressive and dominant.” 

The main outcome of these emotions and or behaviors can be hostility toward women or men who show subordinate masculinity. Emotional illiteracy is a common trait in young men as well. They feel the need to suppress and ignore emotions they perceive as soft or weak. 

Within a political society, Conservatives believe the term “toxic masculinity” is an attack on masculinity itself, while Liberals believe the end to masculinity in young men would end male violence towards women, as well as sexual entitlement.

“Progressives [believe] the detoxification of masculinity can lead to gender equality,” professor in criminology Michael Salter said. “Both political parties have the concept of toxic masculinity all wrong… Male violence in this scenario doesn’t emanate from something bad or toxic that has crept into the nature of masculinity itself. Rather, it comes from these men’s social and political settings, the particularities of which set them up for inner conflicts over social expectations and male entitlement.”

Salter explained that the common ideology of male violence and sexual aggression comes from masculine traits, rather than coming from fear of not meeting social expectations set by “role models” in the man’s life, whether the “model” be a man or woman. Salter also commented on the political setting. This refers to the environment the man was raised in and the events that took place in that environment.

“Toxic masculinity” in men results from how a man was raised and who he was raised by, not so much by him displaying masculine traits. Many people deem certain masculine traits as healthy or unhealthy.

According to, the true masculine man is one that has conceived balance. A balance through both his masculine and feminine traits. That means that, just because a man shows, for example, a competitive instinct or a strong sense of power and leadership, he is not necessarily representing toxic masculinity. Nevertheless, if a man is expressing a loving, nurturing, and caring side, he is not “soft” or “weak”; rather the man is in touch with his “divine feminine” (the goddess energy that exists within all of us).

So with all this, what is the right masculinity to have? The experts in the subject claim there is no “right” masculinity for a man to have. Every human is created differently. However, there are healthy masculine behaviors and activities in which men can actively partake.

Activities to promote healthy masculinities have been researched and tested for centuries. 

Accountability, meditation/praying, journaling, embracing kindness, goal setting, open compassion towards yourself and others, stepping out of your comfort zone, and sympathy are all activities/behaviors that give signs of healthy masculinity.

Posted in: Owen Williams