Patriarchy: Not just a women’s issue
December 16, 2021
According to a poll conducted by FiveThirtyEight, that’s the percentage of male respondents who believe that society pressures men to act in an unhealthy or harmful way.
Despite the innate benefits men receive from the patriarchy, they aren’t exempt from its bigotry. For example, as seen by the higher custodial rates for women as reported by the United States Census Bureau, men are more likely assumed to be unfit parents since it’s the women’s patriarchal role to act as a caretaker.
One of the patriarchy’s more notable forces targeting men is toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity is, as the name suggests, masculinity to the point of toxicity. It stems from the glorification of hypermasculine behavior, and, as a result, men are heavily discouraged from engaging in feminine behavior. This harms everyone regardless of gender by creating strict behavioral expectations for men and adding contempt for feminity, equivocating it to weakness and inferiority.
For English teacher Erik Migdail, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing was a prime example of toxic masculinity’s culture.
“When I got to college and saw the same culture that Kavanaugh was from, I was stunned by the toxic masculinity, extraordinary binge drinking, misogyny, and entitlement to sexual violence. I’ve had a front-row seat to the worst of toxic masculinity from a particularly privileged subset of society that takes this as the norm,” Migdail said.
During Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegations against him came to light. Despite this, Kavanaugh was voted into the Supreme Court with a Senate vote of 50-48, the closest roll call for a justice confirmation since 1881.
Not only has Migdail observed the effects of toxic masculinity in society but also in his personal relationships.
“It’s not an accident that many of my closest friends have actually been women. So many men buy into the toxic masculinity paradigm, and I think that it’s a very deleterious force in the world,” Migdail said.
He’s not alone in this thinking; Migdail has also seen his two sons reject certain beliefs that toxic masculinity perpetuates.
“Both of my sons ended up isolating themselves during recess throughout their elementary and middle school years because all the other boys were playing kickball, and they hated the culture surrounding it. Seeing the effect of that kind of toxic masculinity on them and their decision to opt-out made me reflect on my own experiences, which were very similar,” Migdail said.
Growing up, Migdail was never interested in sports or, more specifically, the culture around it that men are expected to conform to. However, the degrading language he’s heard used to describe women, which he describes as appalling, exists outside of sports.
“Like many things, toxic masculinity is about power, and power never gives up power,” Migdail said.