Toxic masculinity has been in the news a lot recently, but there are a growing number of positive role models showing boys and young men how to behave with kindness, respect and empathy.
The brand of misogynistic and materialistic ‘toxic masculinity’ that YouTuber Andrew Tate personifies is a problem that has vexed parents for some time.
“Time and time again expectations of ‘being a man’ have led to more and more young males finding their way into serious violent crime,” according to a 2020 report from Greater Manchester’s Innovation Unit. It noted that the influence of toxic masculinity on young men may be rising.
“This pressure to uphold a masculine image based on strength is becoming intensified through the increasing influence of social media,” the report concluded.
And this pressure can be devastating for individuals and society: “Extreme forms of certain traditional masculine traits are linked to aggression, misogyny and negative health outcomes,” according to the American Psychological Association.
The tide could be turning though, as a flood of surveys and school initiatives suggest that ‘toxic masculinity’ might finally be facing a new foe – ‘positive masculinity’.
Progress at home: how to talk to your son
“If we create the right environment, these young men will show the best versions of themselves,” says Mike Nicholson. A former English teacher with almost two decades of experience under his belt, Nicolson is now director of The Progressive Masculinity Programme. This organisation hosts workshops with boys, and also with their parents, exploring what it can mean to ‘be a man’ by fostering more inclusive and empathetic attitudes.