Tackling toxic masculinity as a witness

Whenever you encounter toxic behaviour, make sure you can talk to the person instigating it. The confrontation doesn’t need to be a monologue about why it is bad. Instead, create the room to reflect and educate the person. See also: Tackling toxic masculinity as a witness

Offer a reality check 

Some research has found that men consistently overestimate the sexism of other men. They engage in research pluralistic ignorance, which is the assumption that their attitudes are in the minority when in fact, they’re in the majority. For example, a college student may feel pressured to binge drink because they perceive that everyone does, but in fact, a majority don’t. In the case of sexist attitudes, if a man assumes he’s surrounded by men who are more sexist than he is, he’s less likely to speak up when he witnesses sexist behaviour and more likely to stay silent. The result?  Pluralistic ignorance gets reinforced. 

See also: Not Your Average Joe: Pluralistic Ignorance, Status, and Modern Sexism - Tagart Cain Sobotka, 2022 

Speak out 

Don’t remain silent in the face of toxic masculinity. When the conversation in your male group turns to “trying to get in her knickers” or the “tits on that” or the “persistence wears down the resistance”, or someone is told “don’t be a pussy” or “are you a queer?” that’s not a cue to look the other way. 

See also: Is It Actually Helpful to Talk About Toxic Masculinity? 

Don’t let the toxicity spread 

This is social conditioning; it is not just ‘the way men are’ – we need to get out of this kind of thinking. We are not born misogynists; we are not born homophobic; we are socialised from a young age as to what a man should and shouldn’t be and taught to reject the ‘other’. As we get older, part of our duty is to unpick these ideas passed down by our families and peer groups and start to question the ideas we have of what classifies as being a man. 

See also: 10 Things men can do to end Toxic Masculinity | The Book of Man  

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