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Toxic Masculinity: Solidarity Through Feminism

The same men that appear so strong are the ones that can’t allow themselves to cry.

Cheryl Winn-Boujnida on Unsplash

Welcome to an old problem

I never saw men in my family crying once. If they were faced with emotions perceived as "weak," such as sadness, they would either keep them inside or react with anger.

It's hard to believe that these men (cisgender, heterosexual) can be victims of their own privilege, but they clearly are.

My grandparents raised me in a small city in the Italian countryside. During my childhood, it was evident that I had to "go to grandma" for certain things, like if I wanted to eat something or if I hurt myself and needed medication. If I needed some other sort of help, like pocket money to buy my favorite magazine, grandpa was the right person. They had their specific roles, and these were not interchangeable.

That seemed to be the norm, not just in my family but in my whole community.

I didn’t understand why my grandpa never helped in the kitchen after eating or did the house chores.

As time passed, I understood there was an implicit subordination in their relationship, which was neither discussed nor questioned, as that was "the way it was."

Their parents and previous generations had carried the same way of living for centuries.

For a while, I thought of my grandma as a matriarch, but the truth was, only my grandpa had the final word in whatever decision involved money.

He was the “breadwinner,” even if the one making bread at home was my grandma.

She was not required to have a job, whereas he had to.

At that time, society put men like him in a superior position, a position reserved for men only. However, since it was granted at a high price, men were always expected to maintain it; this put them under a lot of pressure and thus, served as a breeding ground for toxic masculinity.