Breaking Toxic Masculinity

To this day, toxic masculinity permeates homes, offices, factories, highways, bars, locker rooms and pretty much anywhere else, in Nigeria, men have taken it upon themselves to be strong, silent and seemingly impervious to the day-to-day brutalities they have invented and inured themselves to. We must constantly work to ensure that issues that prevail with toxic masculinity do not continue within the next circle of generations to come. 

Beyond misplaced anger, feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness, men are told to hold their emotions in check — like a stress position used to induce confession — sometimes break. 

“Toxic masculinity” is tricky. It’s a phrase that—misunderstood—can seem wildly insulting, even bigoted. 

Just in case you do not know, the concept of toxic masculinity is used to refer to certain cultural norms that are associated with harm to society and to men themselves. Traditional stereotypes of men as socially dominant, along with related traits such as misogyny and homophobia, can be considered “toxic” due in part to their promotion of violence, including sexual assault and domestic violence. The socialization of boys often normalizes violence, such as in the saying “boys will be boys” with regard to bullying and aggression.

5 ways to break the cycle of toxic masculinity

Communicate your issues.

Stereotypically, men are not good at expressing their emotions. When faced with an emotional problem, many men will bottle up their feelings. It’s important fathers and male role models don’t feel chained to these outdated stereotypes. 

By communicating with their children, they are showing them that it’s good and healthy to talk about any issues affecting them. Boys look up to their fathers and male role models to learn how to deal with the problems they face, if they know they can talk then they’re more equipped to face any struggles that may come their way. 

Encourage their interests.

Not all boys are interested in football, boxing, play fights or physics. Male role models shouldn’t expect children to conform to stereotypes. Even if they don’t share the same interests as you, it is important to encourage their hobbies.

Treat others with respect.

Boys learn from how father and mother figures interact. This is particularly important for understanding how men should treat women. Be a positive role model by talking to and about women in a healthy and respectful way. 

Be open about your experiences.

In the digital age, it’s tempting to carefully manicure the appearance of our lives. Most people will go to great lengths to ensure their lives appear to be perfect on social media. Sharing your mistakes and failures from the past reminds a child that no one is infallible. What you see on your screens is not what real life is. Everyone makes mistakes, has boring days, feels sad sometimes – and it’s absolutely fine.

Dispel the belief in a perfect physique.

Young boys are facing a relentless bombardment of advertising on social media promoting unrealistic expectations about body image and how they should behave. This can have a serious impact on young boys’ self-esteem. It’s important to tell them that there is no such thing as a perfect physique. 


Toxic masculinity can also take the form of bullying of boys by their peers and domestic violence directed toward boys at home. The often violent socialization of boys produces psychological trauma through the promotion of aggression and lack of interpersonal connection. Such trauma is often disregarded, such as in the saying “boys will be boys” with regard to bullying. 

The promotion of idealized masculine roles emphasizing toughness, dominance, self-reliance, and the restriction of emotion can begin as early as infancy. Such norms are transmitted by parents, other male relatives, and members of the community. It would take extreme consciousness form, everyone, to train the next set of boys so that they do not have to conform to the term “Boys Would Always Be Boys”

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