Toxic masculinity is the sum of values and behaviors that are traditionally viewed as “masculine” in many cultures and includes several crucial characteristics that allow calling it toxic. First of all, toxic masculinity suppresses feelings and refuses to display them because it is viewed as a sign of weakness (Salam, 2019). Secondly, it requires a man to maintain the appearance of hardness and toughness at all times so that no one could doubt his manhood (Salam, 2019). Additionally, toxic masculinity views aggression and violence as a sign of power and the main grounds to decide whether someone is worthy of respect (Salam, 2019). Finally, it is also related to misogynistic views: while it praises supposedly male characteristics, such as toughness, it also despises supposedly womanly qualities, such as emotionality or concern for others (Baldoni, 2017). Put together, these qualities can harm those around a man who believes in toxic masculinity. Moreover, they can harm such a man himself because they make him more likely to get into trouble or on the receiving end of disciplinary action.
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Eddie Carbone may serve as an example of toxic masculinity, which does him much harm by the end of the play. He convinces himself that Rodolfo does not truly love Catherine because he thinks that openly displaying one’s love for a woman as unmanly – therefore, it must be a trick. In this sense, Eddie demonstrates a disregard for emotions typical for toxic masculinity (Salam, 2019). He does not care about what Catherine wants for herself, showing the toxic masculine disregard for women (Baldoni, 2017). He tries to physically dominate Rodolfo under the pretext of teaching him to box – and, as such, use violence and aggression to assume his power (Salam, 2019). Finally, he attacks Marco with a knife, demanding that he would clear his name, even though Marco has already proven to be stronger (Salam, 2019). It suggests that appearing tough and uncompromising in matters of honor is more important for Eddie than the actual chances of winning a fight against Marco. As a result, Eddie’s fate by the end of the play is a clear illustration of how toxic masculinity can be dangerous and harmful.
Baldoni, J. (2017). Why I’m done trying to be “man enough” [Video]. TED.
Salam, M. (2019). What is toxic masculinity? The New York Times.