Toxic masculinity leads to abuse

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Toxic masculinity leads to abuse

GABRIELLA RAMOS, Evergreen life editor

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Your heart rate sky rockets as he enters the room.

You’re walking on egg shells trying not to say the wrong thing.

You keep your mouth shut to maintain the peace. You’re genuinely afraid of a man who is supposed to love and support you.

You are a victim of toxic masculinity.

One in four women will be a victim of sexual assault during their lifetime, according to WSU Health and Wellness Services Medical Director Dennis Garcia.

With a population of 20,000 students, that’s almost 5,000 Cougs.

As a former victim of toxic male behavior, I define toxic masculinity as the intent by a male to overpower their partner, either physically, emotionally or sexually, without consent.

There are no excuses for domestic violence or sexual assault, but men who are toxically masculine cannot and will not allow anyone to damage their ego, and will often blame any conflict on their partner.

This is not only psychologically damaging to the victim, it can escalate to physical violence quickly.

So what role does the media play in proliferating these aggressive and abusive behaviors in men?

In 2014, WSU Associate Professor of Communication Stacey Hust had a paper published in the Journal of Sex Research about the association between magazine exposure and consent negotiation.

Hust identified that exposure to men’s magazines was associated with decreased intentions to ask for sexual consent as well as decreased intentions to adhere to a partner’s sexual consent decision.

Earlier this year, Men’s Fitness was forced to drop an article titled “How to Turn a ‘No’ into a ‘Yes,’” because of the negative backlash it received on social media.

The article gave advice about how to coerce a woman who has already said no to sex to say yes; this is what rape culture looks and sounds like, and it is being propagated through popular media outlets.

Socialization by gender has become extremely worrying.

We often blame the media for the objectification of women, setting expectations that are simply too high to be realistic for the average girl, but this often overshadows the impact of the media on male identity.

Nikki Finnestead, one of WSU’s Violence Prevention Educators, said men are expected to be hyper-sexualized, seeking out an opportunity for sexual activity at every turn.

This is just as unrealistic for men as always looking perfect is for women.

The hyper-sexualization of men in the media can lead to them feeling like they need to prove their masculinity through aggression and control over their partner, causing sex to be seen as a conquest, rather than something that is mutually agreed upon.

The portrayal of men as hyper-masculine in magazines and on television can also lead to male body dysmorphia, or a male’s perception of himself and the need to be more masculine.

This disorder can lead to the use of testosterone-boosters to bulk up quickly, but these products have an impact on male hormones that can cause aggression and anger.

In addition to media outlets, America’s little boys are taught to be tough, that men should not be comfortable confronting their emotions with verbal expression, conversation or crying.

Desensitizing men from their emotions can cause them to lose touch with how to correctly interact in sentimental or high-tension situations.