by Josh Schreiber, Detroit, Michigan
There are dozens of problems in society, especially facing teens. These problems can effect teens in one school, one city, one state, one country, or the entire world. One problem that our generation is facing that I’ve seen in strangers, friends, and even myself, is toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity isn’t hating on men, or telling them how to behave, it’s exposing and eradicating behaviors that should’ve been gone long ago, but are so normalized by society that it’s a challenge to go away.
“Be a man” “Don’t be a pussy” “Grow some balls” are all quotes I’ve heard from dozens of my friends, and it’s not fair to call them out since I was and still am (once in a while) guilty of this behavior too. Although these phrases are all comprised of different words, they all have the same meaning. “You’re a male, so you’re supposed to be tough” is the message that is pulled out of all these phrases.
Here’s a little bit about me. I’m straight, have majority male friends, active in multiple sports, and have masculine qualities, which is all a typical environment for these phrases and stereotypes to start, so the question is, how do us, as teens, change this for the next generation?
Although most of us will get married and have or adopt kids within the next decade or two where we can raise our kids with the solution to this issue, the work starts here. The first step of solving this toxic masculinity, is realizing that it’s perpetuated by both genders. Women are encouraged to talk about their feelings, while men are silent. Men are pushed to be tough, while women are persuaded to be dependent. Both genders have roles forced onto them that don’t belong, especially in 2019. By recognizing and accepting where we all go wrong, and putting in the effort to fix it, is the first step to solving this issue. By universally addressing this, even with baby steps, the problem is encountering a solution that will “snowball” into a better tomorrow. Together, teens of both genders, hold the reins for fixing toxic masculinity and gender equality, with no question. We were taught that our generation will fix the world, and it’s finally time to start doing it.