We have much-needed conversations around feminism, patriarchy, and its impact on women. How women fight patriarchy on a daily basis. And finally, we are having a conversation on how toxic masculinity affects the LGBTQ+ community. But there is one topic that is rarely talked about. One that not many even consider. The impact of toxic masculinity on men.
Let us take a step back. Think about the men in your family, particularly the generation before. Father, grandfathers, and uncles. How often did we see them showing any emotion? How often did we see them talk about their insecurities?
Men are socially conditioned to believe that it is not man enough to display emotions. That they would be considered weak if they talked about their fears and disappointments.
Earlier this year, as a part of the Gender Talks conversation for #CauseAChatter, I shared a series of recommendations on feminism and feminist literature. Today I share with you two books about how toxic masculinity impacts men and particularly adolescents. Two books that could not be different from each other. Be it the genre or the demographics it relates to. But books that are an honest reflection of what it means to be a man in today’s world.
Man Enough: Undefining My Masculinity
by Justin Baldoni
“… be brave enough to be vulnerable, to be strong enough to be sensitive, to be confident enough to listen”
You may recall Justin Baldoni as Rafael from the CW show Jane the Virgin. A social activist, he spoke about his journey with masculinity in his popular TED talk in 2018. Man Enough: Undefining My Masculinity continues the conversation as he explores a range of difficult, sometimes uncomfortable topics including strength and vulnerability, relationships and marriage, body image, sex and sexuality, racial justice, gender equality, and fatherhood.
Although geared towards men, it is a book that is a must-read for everyone. I highly recommend you pick the book, particularly the audiobook narrated by the author himself.
You can catch the TED talk that laid the foundation of the book below.
The Anger of Saintly Men
by Anubha Yadav
Make men out of the boys. How often have we heard this phrase?
The Anger of Saintly Men is the coming-of-age story of three brothers growing up in the 90s. It is an honest look at how it was to grow up in a typical Northern Indian middle-class family during the times. It is still relevant three decades later. A lot may have changed but nothing really has.
Apart from toxic masculinity, the book explores homophobia, misogyny, caste and class politics, and foeticide. It discusses difficult topics that often get brushed under the carpet. Sexual assault, abuse, and more importantly, oppressive parenting. It questions systems that have crushed men’s expectations, desires, and hopes for centuries.
I highly recommend this debut fiction read. A fair warning though. The book can be triggering.
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What are your thoughts on the impact of patriarchy on men? Do you have a recommendation for similar books? I would love to check them out. Do share in the comments below.
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