How toxic masculinity affects all of us

How toxic masculinity affects all of us

Relationship Therapy Bethesda MD

The mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, TX has brought up the now too familiar discussion on gun control. Recently, several news outlets have clarified the link between domestic violence and mass shootings, citing that the majority of mass shootings – 54 percent of cases – were related to domestic or family violence. Most of us would agree that individuals with a history of domestic or family violence should be screened properly prior to obtaining a gun. Though tougher gun laws are one part of the solution, we must also address how we contribute to an environment that makes domestic or family violence more likely to occur.

Terry Real, a well-known family therapist, speaker, and author, argues that traditional gender roles harm both sexes; however, they are particularly toxic for men. Why? Because traditional gender roles reinforce the idea that emotional expression is feminine, while anger and violence is masculine. We may tolerate female anger, but we oftentimes feel uncomfortable or repulsed by men showing emotion. While we are all born with the capacity to feel emotion deeply, men very quickly learn what it means to be a man in our society: strong and stoic.

Outside of mass shootings and gun violence, why should we care about gender socialization? As a couples therapist, I’ve noticed how gender roles directly impact couples ability to feel close, connected, and understood. Sometimes, male clients are confused by their partners’ expression of emotion, while female clients may experience their partners’ as cold and unresponsive. We know that humans are wired for connection. So, regardless of what we show others, on the inside, we’re sometimes scared, sad, or hurt. If you are concerned about how differences in emotional expression may be causing conflict in your relationship, don’t hesitate to reach out to a therapist.