Why Male Fragility Is Better Than Toxic Masculinity

By Reniel


Last Updated: June 19, 2021

In recent times, the phrases "male fragility" and "toxic masculinity" have been thrown around a lot mostly because of the upsurge of feminist movements.     

FYI! These phrases have been in existence long before feminist movements gained any traction, but as you would soon discover, the feminist movements are the perfect triggers for toxic masculinity.

The phrases have been used so many times in several contexts, for diverse arguments that it is hard to know what they mean exactly. In fact, the phrases have lost most of their original meanings – that is if there was one.  


The problem with traditional masculinity

The thing is, society often puts pressure on men to be, you know, “men”, unlike women who are considered to already be women – and are discouraged to try to be anything else.     

And although being a “man” isn’t bad in and of itself, it creates huge problems when the men are unable to reach these demands.  

For a start, there are huge expectations for men to be strong, competent, and reliable. For most societies, this translates to being able to protect, provide, and procreate.    

Which traps men in a world where any signs of weakness and incompetence in certain areas makes people question their masculinity.    

And so, in an attempt to prove themselves, most men who find themselves in precarious positions in life end up expressing their frustration – outwardly through violence, dominance, or aggression, or inwardly through addiction, depression, and ultimately suicide.    

It is no surprise then that most crimes are carried out by young men under the age of 25 who have nothing to show for but feel they have a lot to prove. It is also the reason why men who have gained such qualities (of “manhood”, in the traditional sense) guide it with their life – and easily get triggered whenever anything or anyone tries to challenge or take it away from them.      

Hence, the toxicity of masculinity doesn’t emanate from being masculine but trying to be (or remain) one. This too points to another problem: what does it truly mean to be a man?      

For all the debate, hardly has anyone given a clear definition of what masculinity is, rather they have a clear definition of what it’s not – that is, it is not being "feminine".     

It is not strange then that people use vulgar/abusive words like “pussy”, “bitch”, “princess” and so on to describe men who have been deemed unfit to be called “a man”.

It is also no surprise then that gay men suffer the most in our societies – since they are seen as feminine, which as you already know by now, opposes the traditional definition of masculinity.       

This societal conundrum has led to paradoxes like the “Nordic Paradox”: which points to the fact that even though the responsibility imposed on men has been greatly reduced – by allowing women to assist in providing for, and protecting the family (Aka, gender equality) – the degree of sexual assaults, domestic, and intimate partner violence has seen a dramatic increase as well.    

In essence, a lot of men consciously or unconsciously feel threatened by the uprising of women. And this is why the feminist movements are so upsetting to these men. It is also the reason masculinity needs an urgent redefinition. 

This is because the rigidity and contradiction which the current definition imposes on men is stifling to them, and deathly harmful to women.


The Dangers of Toxic Masculinity

Toxic masculinity is so stifling that men are 5 times more likely to commit suicide compared to women, and teenage boys are 9 times more likely to kill themselves than girls.    

The majority of violent crimes are executed on men, yet they (for fear of appearing weak) are far less likely to report or even express the pain.    

It is no surprise then that they are more likely to become drug addicts, take on more dangerous jobs, work longer hours, ask for less help, and in general have a shorter life expectancy (with the causes ranging from emotional turbulence, chronic stress, fatigue, injury, and much more)   

Thankfully, getting married goes a long way in smoothing out these hazards that men face – as the women help them unwind and also restrain them from more dangerous acts.        

However, a lot of men are so emotionally unequipped and unavailable that they end up jeopardizing the marriage.     

The result is that many women file for divorce due to “emotional neglect”, and the likelihood of recently divorced men to suffer mental illnesses, addictions, depression, or to take their life increases.     


The Solution - Embracing Male Fragility

So, how do we solve this problem? The answer is by redefining what masculinity is.     

The truth is that the masculinity we have today is outdated, precarious, and self-defeating. Men are being thought to measure their self-worth by an external metric – which is juxtaposed against womanhood and lacks any rigid meaning in and of itself.

Hence, rather than trying to argue about the toxicity of masculinity, or trying to shush it, it would be a whole lot productive to change the standard: to make it about being honest, an expert, a hero, a hardworking person – who is also loving, kind, emotionally open, and responsible.

If these positive aspects of masculinity are highlighted and stressed, then men would keep striving to be masculine, but the result won’t be toxic, but rather productive.      

In conclusion, encouraging men to be more open, vulnerable and “fragile” would create a safer and healthier society. Men would no longer have to be “men” in the sense of masochism, but simply “humans who can let their walls down and experience a wide gamut of emotions just like women.


Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash


2 comments on “Why Male Fragility Is Better Than Toxic Masculinity”

  1. Do you realize that neither of these male portraits are healthy? And, that both are filled with extreme biases? The closing about being "human" and letting their "walls down" on emotions has validity, but the writer is writing from a flawed and limited view of right and wrong for male thought and behavior especially as it relates to emotions and pain. Sure, men experience emotional pain, but arguing that they need to express emotions as women do and that masculinity is "outdated" is immature and yet another voice telling men that they are unacceptable as men and should be women! It appears the writer has drank the hype to the point of overflowing it to the world. Behaviors are behaviors, acceptable or unacceptable, no matter male or female. Stop telling men to be more like women or women to be more like men. Address behaviors neutrally and let men be men and women be women and kids by kids if you want to build a better human.

  2. The writer assumes that there are no impactful differences between male and female brains, and that the entire problem for men is how they are socialized/educated. Major influences in American culture have been telling men to be more "fragile" for decades, but the research quoted above by the author shows that approach has only led to more misbehavior from men. So why recommend more of an approach that has already proven to be mistaken? Because no other cause has been explored more than the social aspect - how boys are nurtured. We're always debating the nature versus nurture dimension. If men are bad by nature, then nothing can be done except medication and incarceration. If men misbehave because of how they're nurtured, then we can attempt some solutions - aka, reeducate men. So I get it why most authors (like Reniel in this article) land on the idea that nurture is the problem - it gives them hope for solutions that can be measurably implemented. But what if part of the cause is nature? Solutions that actually work will come from a conceptualization of the problem that takes both nature and nurture into account. More articles like this need to be written by people educated in brain research to understand the biologically based traits of "pure masculinity," and differentiate them from traits and behaviors that come from temperament and personality, and from how males are raised, influenced, and educated to be.

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