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Raising Men Who Reject Toxic Masculinity

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In preparing to be on the panel for SpokaneFAVS conversation on Saturday regarding the Me Too movement, or Time’s Up…I am filled with trepidation.

There is so much anger, even rage, and I feel it in myself.

There is so much judgment, and I feel it in myself.

These are not incorrect to the circumstances, but they are uncomfortable, even scary.  Sometimes I weep from an overflowing of anger, and hopelessness, pain and sorrow.

I decided to google “toxic masculinity” because there seems to be so much of it.  As it turns out, the term is used within male prison populations. “Toxic masculine traits are characteristic of the unspoken code of behavior among men in American prisons, where they exist in part as a response to the harsh conditions of prison life.” (Wikipedia)

Yes, I hear of it all around me.  The language is used to speak of movie producers, therapists, actors, CEO’s, politicians.  The “harsh conditions” of American life seem to create toxic men.

I am married, and I have raised one son: both of these men in my life are good men.  My father and my brothers and brothers in law, my cousins and my male friends were/are also good men.  Rarely unreasonable or angry, never physically violent; these men did not prepare me for toxic males.

Yet I know that violent, domineering, bullying, abusive, sexually perverted males are out there, swaggering around, bullying others, forcing themselves on the unwilling.

I remember being afraid…many, many times.  Alone on a street and getting harassed, walking with a friend through a park at night and being followed, in a club full of strange men, some of whom were trying to grope me, getting out of a pool with the eyes of strangers on me.  I remember being afraid.  And I remember being afraid for my sisters and friends, afraid for my precious daughter.  I do not like being afraid.

Throughout it all, I ask myself, what can be done? How does this happen, again and again, to countless women in our country and around the world?   Who are these men? How can we change this?

There is now in the world the uprising of our angry female voices: these voices are truly changing this world of toxic, violent male behavior.  All over the world, women and girls speak and speak and speak up, they shout out: for themselves, their children, their sisters, and mothers, and daughters, and friends.

But we humans must do another thing as well: we must raise a different kind of male.  Raise men who are patient and kind, who know their own feelings and own their own emotions.  Men who think and reason instead of just reacting, men who understand themselves and others.  Men who value life, and protect it.  Men who can find ways to express themselves in ways that are respectful and honest.  Men who can play a hard game, and laugh at the end of it.  Men who know it is ok to be tender.  Men who can share the burdens of this stressful world rather than break underneath the lonely load of them.  Men who collaborate.

And when we know such men, and raise boys to be such men…then all of our lives will be safer, and richer, open to great beauty, to possibilities of peace, friendship and laughter.  Very possibly, we will have a new world.  We cannot create such a beautiful world, until we create it for all of us.

Join SpokaneFaVS for a Coffee Talk on the #MeToo Movement this Saturday, June 2, at 10:00 a.m. at the Saranac Commons, 19 w. Main Ave. Castrolang is a panelist.

Andy CastroLang

About Andy CastroLang

Andy CastroLang is senior pastor at Westminster Congregational United Church of Christ. She is deeply committed to civil discourse between individuals and throughout our community; in interreligious conversation, private conversation, intergenerational conversation and yes, even in political conversation. She has been a supporter of SpokaneFaVS since its inception because she supports this creative effort at thoughtful community conversation.

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