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Behind the Mask: Revealing the Excuses Men Use to Justify Toxic Behaviours

13th August 2023. Reading Time: 8 minutes Behavioural Change, Equality. 2265 page views.

The recent movements advocating for gender equality and social justice have brought to light the issue of toxic masculinity - a cultural concept that promotes harmful and destructive behaviours in men that are detrimental to themselves, women, society and the world at large. However, despite the growing awareness of toxic masculinity, many men are still struggling to break free from its grip. As a result, many of us are left wondering why so many men continue to justify their toxic behaviours while the world cries for change. In this blog post, we will delve into the excuses that men use to justify their toxic behaviours and how they impact themselves and others. We hope that this article will help men understand the root of these harmful behaviours and provide them with the tools to break free from toxic masculinity.

The "Boys Will Be Boys": Excuse

Among the most common yet damaging excuses used to justify toxic behaviours is the phrase "boys will be boys". This notion is deeply embedded in our culture, often used to dismiss aggressive, disrespectful and inappropriate actions by blaming it on inherent masculine traits. It promotes the belief that boys and men are naturally prone to such behaviours, thereby normalizing it and deterring any attempts at correction or discipline. However, this phrase is harmful not only to those on the receiving end of these actions but also to the men themselves, as it limits their emotional growth and prevents them from learning accountability. It is crucial for us as a society to challenge this outdated mentality and encourage men to take responsibility for their actions, fostering a more respectful and empathetic culture.

The "It Was a Joke": Excuse

Another defence often used to justify toxic behaviours is the "it was a joke" excuse. This excuse is often used when men use derogatory or offensive language, make inappropriate comments, or behave disrespectfully, then dismiss their actions as mere humour. This tactic not only enables the perpetrator to evade responsibility but also belittles the feelings of those affected by their actions by suggesting they lack a sense of humour or are overly sensitive. However, the impact of such "joking" behaviour is significant. It can contribute to low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression among those on the receiving end. Furthermore, it normalizes disrespectful behaviour, making it harder for society to recognize and address it. As such, it's essential that we confront this excuse for what it is - a method of escaping accountability for harmful actions.

The "I'm Just Being Honest": Excuse

Another excuse commonly used to justify toxic behaviour is "I'm just being honest." Men often use this excuse to justify their insensitive and aggressive behaviour towards others. Although honesty is a valuable trait, being honest does not mean using aggressive and hurtful language to demean others. Honesty and communication can and should be done with respect, care, and understanding.

The "I Can't Help It; it's How I Was Raised": Excuse.

One excuse that is often given to justify toxic behaviour is "I can't help it; it's how I was raised." This excuse is rooted in the belief that one's upbringing entirely dictates their behaviour, and they have no power to change it. While it is true that our upbringing and environment significantly shape our values and behaviour, it is also true that personal growth is about recognizing these harmful patterns and working towards changing them. By using this excuse, men avoid taking responsibility for their actions and resist growth and change. Furthermore, it propagates harmful behaviours in future generations, creating a vicious cycle of toxicity. Society needs to challenge this excuse and encourage personal growth and accountability rather than accepting harmful behaviours as inevitable.

The "It's a Man's World": Excuse

In many cultures, men are socialized to believe that they are superior to women, and thus their voices, opinions, and needs should come before those of women. Men use this excuse to justify their entitlement and dismiss the opinions and needs of women. However, this attitude promotes a toxic and unbalanced power dynamic and limits progress and change.

Promoting the idea that "it's a man's world" not only wrongly normalizes male dominance and female submission but also perpetuates gender inequality. Encouraging such a mindset can lead to a lack of respect for women and their rights. It can also engender a culture where men feel entitled to make decisions on behalf of women, undervaluing their contributions and silencing their voices. This toxic mentality contributes to a continuation of patriarchal norms that oppress women while at the same time burdening men with an unhealthy expectation of dominance and control. Society must actively challenge this excuse and work towards promoting a culture of equality, mutual respect, and shared decision-making. This shift in mindset is crucial in dismantling harmful power dynamics and fostering a healthier approach to relationships and societal roles.

The "I Had No Choice": Excuse

Sometimes, men resort to toxic behaviours and attitudes as a result of peer pressure, societal expectations, or even traumatic events. There's usually a reason why people behave the way they do. However, using external factors as an excuse for hurtful behaviour is unacceptable and reinforces toxic culture. It's essential to take ownership of one's actions and seek help if necessary.

The "I'm Just Competitive": Excuse

Many men tend to use their competitive nature as an excuse to justify their aggressive or disrespectful actions. While competitiveness can be a positive trait when channelled properly, it can become harmful when it promotes unhealthy rivalry, lack of sportsmanship, or an overbearing need to always be 'number one'. This excuse can lead to men pushing themselves and others beyond healthy limits, generating unnecessary stress and creating an environment filled with tension and hostility. It is crucial to draw a line between healthy competition and toxic behaviour. Instead of promoting a win-at-all-costs mentality, we should encourage collaboration, mutual respect, and fair play. This allows everyone to grow and excel in their respective fields without feeling belittled or threatened.

The "Real Men Don't Cry": Excuse.

This common excuse stems from the stereotypical belief that expressing emotions is a sign of weakness, particularly in men. By using this excuse, men suppress their feelings and refrain from expressing vulnerability, leading to emotional stagnation and an inability to form deep, meaningful relationships. This harmful belief not only disregards the fact that emotions are a natural part of human experience, regardless of gender but also contributes to mental health issues among men. It's important to challenge this stereotype and foster a society that understands and respects emotional expression in men, emphasizing that it's okay for 'real men' to cry.

The "Not All Men": Myth

The "Not All Men" myth is a common defence mechanism used by many men to distance themselves from discussions about toxic masculinity and sexism. This response often occurs when women share their experiences with sexism or harassment, with men interjecting that "not all men" are like that. While it's true that not all men engage in these harmful behaviours, this deflection avoids addressing the systemic issue and shifts the focus away from women's experiences.

The "Men Should Always Be Strong": Myth

The "Men Should Always Be Strong" myth is a toxic stereotype that places immense pressure on men to always be physically and emotionally strong and never show vulnerability. This belief leads to men suppressing their emotions and feelings, avoiding seeking help, and not addressing their mental health issues, which can lead to serious emotional distress and isolation.

The "Men Can't Be Victims": Myth

The "Men Can't Be Victims" myth is a dangerous belief that suggests men can't be victims of abuse or harassment. This stereotype is harmful because it invalidates and silences the experiences of men who have been victims of abuse, making it difficult for them to seek help or justice. It's crucial to debunk this myth to ensure that all victims, regardless of their gender, are recognized and supported.

Deconstructing Toxic Masculinity

To dismantle the harmful norms and stereotypes mentioned above, it is important to dissect and challenge what is often referred to as "toxic masculinity." Despite the term, it is not an indictment of men or masculinity. Rather, it identifies harmful behaviours and attitudes often associated with some forms of masculinity.

Toxic masculinity encourages dominance, suppresses emotions, and fosters competition and independence at the expense of cooperation and empathy. This version of masculinity can be destructive to men, women, and society as a whole. Recognizing and acknowledging these issues is the first step in addressing and deconstructing toxic masculinity.

Men and those identifying as male need to be part of this conversation. By engaging in open, honest dialogues about the harmful effects of these stereotypes, men can contribute to the process of change. Education and advocacy play a large role in this, from teaching boys emotional intelligence and respect for others to challenging harmful attitudes among adult men.

Institutions, from schools to workplaces, have a role to play as well. They can foster environments that challenge these stereotypes instead of reinforcing them. Policies and practices need to promote gender equality, respect, and healthy relationships.

Challenging and changing deeply ingrained beliefs and behaviours is not easy, but it is essential. As society evolves, so too should our understanding of gender and the roles we play. By deconstructing harmful stereotypes associated with masculinity, we can promote healthier, more positive models of manhood. This is not just a benefit for men but for everyone.

In conclusion, it's evident that toxic masculinity is a deeply ingrained issue that requires proactive measures to dismantle. A unique approach to this is seen in the Heavy M.E.T.A.L. Men's Behaviour Change Program. This program is exceptional in its commitment to empowering men to lead a life devoid of these toxic myths and excuses. It does not merely focus on eliminating harmful behaviours but also seeks to replace them with positive attitudes and actions that challenge societal norms. The program encourages open dialogue and self-reflection, fostering a supportive environment where men can explore their emotions, vulnerabilities, and strengths without judgment. It builds on the concept of strength, turning it from a physical ideal into an emotional one - the strength to admit mistakes, express feelings, and seek help when needed. By embodying these principles, the Heavy M.E.T.A.L. Men's Behaviour Change Programpaves the way towards a society where masculinity is defined not by dominance and suppression but rather by authenticity, respect, and emotional intelligence. The journey to deconstructing toxic masculinity is a challenging one, but with programs like these, it's a challenge we are well-equipped to undertake.