Boys Don’t Cry: The Dangerous Cult of Toxic Masculinity

Why is it that, in the year 2016, it’s still a taboo for men to cry? And why is it that the cult of toxic masculinity is thriving at a steady and constant pace as it has for centuries?

The culture of toxic masculinity is not only hazardous for the droves of men conditioned to repress their emotions, it also exists in our world as a preternaturally sinister alchemy that feeds on itself in a constant cycle of rape, violence, war, and hubris.

Donald Trump proves himself time and time again to be the face of toxic masculinity with his avarice and his spite, but what of the good men that still exist who’ve been taught from a young age that their emotions are a curse, not a way of life?

When men repress their emotions everything fires on four cylinders: they’re more likely to be more angry and violent, they have a higher sex drive; sex and violence become bedfellows in their minds, women are merely holes to plunge their phallus into.

Once I met a man in college who ended up re-entering my life four years later. I had just had my heart broken and was feeling vulnerable. We’d enjoyed each other on a completely carnal basis, and he was the first man after my rape that made me feel sexy and good. On Halloween night last year, I seduced him into coming over. After my rape, I was afraid of penetration but I figured I’d get over it. I didn’t, and naked and on top of him, I told him about all the shit I’d been through.

The moment proved his character. Rather than feast on his arousal, he looked at me and asked if I wanted to talk about it over some cigarettes. We ended up having an incredible conversation and went away with our faith in humanity restored.

Months later we ended up reconnecting; feelings started manifesting between us. He got scared. I lost my best friend.

I’m done with toxic masculinity. I’m done with the culture of men being mocked and parodied for any feelings of tenderness that might stir in their hearts. I’m done with the anger that boils over when those confused and conflicted emotions begin to simmer beneath their painfully rigid facades. I’m done with the gun violence and rape that is reported arbitrarily, a constant black-eye to humanity.

That the Brock Turners and Donald Trumps of the world exist is heinous; that the cult of toxic masculinity still thrives under the pretense of a hyperbolic need to, “BE A MAN™!” yelled at boys from the day they exit the womb.

The cult of toxic masculinity is harmful, not only to men’s health, but socioeconomically. Toxic masculinity is bedfellows with greed, with war; Toxic masculinity endangers all of humanity, so why hasn’t it ever faded away? Is humanity doomed because we raise little boys not to cry, not to confront their emotions?

I fear for mankind. Most of all, I fear for the best friend I lost who was taught from an early age to embrace apathy and numbness, who was taught that emotions are like a curse word, a shame.

I ask you: when will we cut away the sinister vines of toxic masculinity that choke away at humanity? How do we undo the damage wrought upon men from the time they were born? My heart hurts for the good men born into a culture that praises toxic masculinity, that satirizes emotions and worships chronic apathy.

How do we end the crisis of toxic masculinity before it’s too late?


Abigail Sheaffer is the founder of Chicago Literati, Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit corporation. She is the founding editor-in-chief of Chicago Literati and The Vignette Review. She lives in St. Charles with her English bulldog, Winnie.