@tralatrala suggested men come up with a hashtag for when we’ve acted out of a place rooted in toxic masculinity.
There have been a lot with me, particularly before I turned 30. Not that 30 is a magical age circumstances and events just lead me to a more aware state.
One example I can recall from my late teen years. You see as I was going through puberty my entire family questioned my sexuality. It was always in response to me not fighting, not having lost my virginity, not being into sports (I was in theatre and into computer gaming).
One day I meet this girl and I was just smitten. I tell all my friends and word got around the neighborhood. One of the “cool kids” of the neighborhood met her and they hit it off.
I was crushed. How couldn’t she see he was an asshole junkie that wanted to just fuck her? How couldn’t she see that I was such a nice guy™ and would treat her right?
I talked to my dad about it and he made a comment that a real man would fight for what he wants.
So I did.
I met him in front of my best friend’s house and he thought it was funny I wanted to fight him. He thought I was kidding.
I let loose years of rage and I fucked this guy up pretty good. He was crying screaming “stop stop” when I slammed his face into the sidewalk. My friends pulled me off him and everyone is yelling “what the fuck man? What the hell is wrong with you?!”
It’s weird to look back at that 20 years later.
It’s weird to think that was ever me.
It’s weird to think that I went on to lose my virginity and decide that sex was the key to being a man. How much of a braggart I was without thinking and how many times I’ve called someone a “crazy bitch” when I was called out or didn’t get my way.
I engaged in all the awful behavior that got me laughs online .
Seriously I’m glad I’m not 18-24 anymore.
It wasn’t until I went to therapy for a lot of my issues and had to own them and face them and try and heal from them that I really started changing.
I look back and it’s just fucking insane.
I’ve made it a point to not fall into that behavior - you won’t hear me call women bitches, you won’t hear me talk about women being crazy, and I no longer use “rape” as something that happens if I lose a game.
Those are little things. They were things I was guilty of and could work on immediately.
It’s taken a lot of time, listening, study, and reflection to understand that this culture is toxic and fucking awful.
I remember early on in my career (22 or so) a woman went from tech support to the web design team. A position I really wanted. My first thought was that “she must have fucked someone to get there”.
Never once did I think she was more qualified or interviewed better.
I wasn’t the only one and she instantly went from being “one of the guys” to “that bitch that slept her way into a new position” on the tech support floor.
How fucking disgusting.
So yeah, I’m #owningit - I’m doing my best to improve and make it better for everyone around me. I will instill all that I’ve learned to my son, I will squash any shit I hear like that at work, and I always will listen to people when they say that they’ve been fucked over by toxic masculinity. It exists. It’s harmful.
I’m far from perfect but I’m a damn sight better that I was years ago.
It’s not bragging it’s just progress.
My behavior was both shameful and celebrated. What a weird and awful construct we live in.