Opinion: Toxic masculinity

Amanda Paniagua is a graduate art history major and a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at azabudsk@kent.edu.

Amanda Paniagua is a graduate art history major and a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

In the wake of yet another mass shooting, I have been deeply reflecting on the allegation that the shooter identified with Elliot Rodger, the man responsible for killing six people and wounding 14 others before shooting himself last year near Santa Barbara University.

Rodger claimed he would “punish” young women for rejecting him and never giving him a chance.

This perpetration of violence is deeply disturbing for me.

As a woman, I have grown accustomed to unwelcome comments from drivers who pass me as I walk around campus. I’ve accepted that — despite my fiercest feminist leanings — the world I live in is a world of men who think they own and can control public space.

So much so, that some men feel entitled to enact violence in public spaces upon those they’ve deemed undesirable in their own minds.

We live in a culture of toxic masculinity. Loosely defined, toxic masculinity is a product of a patriarchal society (like the United States) that creates socially constructed ideas about what it means to be a man. Typically, these attributes expect men to be violent, un-emotional and sexually aggressive.

For example, I’m sure we have all heard the saying, “boys will be boys.” What does this saying even mean?

In my experience, it has been used as an excuse when a young boy invades another child’s space; maybe pushes them down, takes a toy, says something hurtful, etc.

If you’re the little girl in the situation, you are expected to just accept that boys will be boys and sometimes they will hurt you. So it’s better if you just stay out of their way. To not do so is “asking for it.”

If you’re the little boy, you are expected to be a man (toxic masculinity) and try to outdo such aggression.

You know, become the alpha male and punish your would-be bully someday. To not do so is to be deemed weak or a being a sissy, which has its roots in misogyny. That is hating anything that is remotely deemed female in nature.

And if you’re the young boy who is dismissed as just being a boy, you learn at a very early age that you are entitled to treat other human beings poorly based on the random chance that you happened to be born a male.

Boys will not always be boys.

They will grow up to become men.

But the kind of men they grow up to be is heavily determined by how we socialize them as young boys and right now in this world of toxic masculinity, no one is winning.

Amanda Anastasia Paniagua is a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].