Toxic masculinity is justifiably villainized. It is so often the cause of physical abuse against women, problematic behavior in the workplace, powerful men refusing to listen, and a general culture of patriarchal aggression.
Less commonly discussed--but also extremely troublesome--is the way that toxic masculinity actually victimizes the men who perpetrate it.
Too many men do not feel they can safely discuss their internal feelings without losing power, standing, or reputation.
A recent Reddit post aimed to change that in its own small way. Men, empowered by the mask of internet anonymity, were asked to share their biggest difficulties.
"Only one of my friends ever contacts me unprompted, whether it is via text or a quick drop by. I would never hear from the others again if I didn't message or call them first."
"This isn't as bad as some of the others here but it has been bothering me for a long while."
An Unsustainable Act
"I'm tired of pretending everything is going well. I lost all motivation and drive to do well in life. I keep telling myself it will get better but nothing is going right."
"I just want a hug from someone who really cares about me and tell me everything will be okay. I want to drop out of school so badly to recover but that's not possible. :("
Physical Affection that Feels Inaccessible
"I really want a hug. I haven't been hugged in so long. It would be nice I think." -- Saaacy-K
"i actually sat and thought about it yesterday and i haven't had physical contact with another human (other than perhaps brushing a hand from someone handing me change or rubbing shoulders in the street) for around 3 years" -- Goibhniu_
"I act indifferent and have things under control but in reality I'm terrified of the future. I think about 100 what-if scenario a day. I don't like to talk about myself Cuz I feel like I'm not interesting or people don't care about what I have to say about my life."
"Thank God I have good friends but those things not even them I can share with."
A Delicate Ordeal
"My wife is currently having an emotional affair with a coworker, and shows no remorse. Her family and friends seem to support her. I had some serious anxiety about a year ago for a handful of months, and my wife found someone else during that time."
"My whole world is destroyed. I feel like a loser, I'm too embarrassed to admit it to my friends, and I don't know how I can continue on."
"She starts individual counseling tomorrow, and all I can hope is that she at least realizes how hurtful she has been."
"I can't imagine being with anyone else, but having your wife tell you that she thinks she may be happier with another man just sucks all of your self worth out of you."
"I distance myself from everyone in my life emotionally because the feeling of being vulnerable and truly opening up to people scares the sh** out of me."
"It always seems to come back to bite me in the a** when I leak a little bit too much information because I just want to be alone and forget about everything."
"I wish I could live alone and have very little interactions with everyone, it's always so draining to be around people day in day out with little alone time."
Struggling With Step One
"I don't want to accept the fact that I'm depressed because if I do then it'll be harder for me to overcome it" -- plocjohn
Just To Be Affirmed
"Give us a pat on the back and ask us how we're doing every now and then, as small as it may seem it can mean the world to some." -- JustLeeGuy
"I think society has just accepted the archetype of the silent unsharing male. It doesn't occur to them that we have feelings until we share. It's a vicious cycle." -- TheRealXiaphas
Don't Know Where to Start
"It's one of those things where you don't know what is wrong with you" -- completeuttera**face
"I'm really hoping therapy will help with this." -- plsacceptmythrowaway
"As a woman, I can't tell you how much it helps to talk things out. Even when you have no idea what to say, just talking about your feelings and having them heard is half the therapy."
"I feel sorry that men have been conditioned to keep their emotions hidden. It's such a sad and lonely way to be. I hope more men feel comfortable talking about their feelings every day." -- KetordinaryDay
Slipping Out of View
"I'm super lonely. I work 50-60 hour weeks because I can't stand to be alone in my empty house."
"Every attempt I've made at a relationship has failed and I'm starting to think I will never find love that goes both ways. My last 'relationship' ended when I found out I was the side guy."
"I don't have any close friends because I can't trust anyone anymore. Every person I try to open up to ends up using it against me in some way. I'm emotionally broken and don't know how to make connections anymore."
Sometimes Awkwardness is Truly Painful
"That I love my parents but I feel super shy telling them "I love you". That's all." -- umotex12
"I'm not a man but I feel the same way. I'm 21 and my parents are getting on a little bit now. I want them to know how much I love them, but I can't bear the awkwardness of actually saying it because we're not an affectionate family."
"They would think I was dying or something if I just said it out of the blue." -- lizdogga
Mourning At Your Own Pace
"I cry every morning and every night because I miss my step dad so much."
"I cry because I took him for granted and never realized how much I loved him and how happy he made me and how I'll never be able to tell him all these things."
"My mother and sister don't understand my feelings and my brothers make fun of me and bully me saying that at least I had a dad. My friends don't get it either as they've never had this kinda of hurt."
"I feel nothing in life, I'm just drifting through each day at the moment - my biggest downfall is that I'm able to convince everyone that I'm fine and act like one of those people everyone assumes is happy, because I'm afraid to talk and feel like a downer to everyone around me."
"I have kids that are amazing and genuinely keep me going, but I hate everything else, I hate my job but it enables me to not do very much and stay at home, and I know I'd hate any job so I have no idea what to do..."
"...I feel like even if I won the lottery I'd just go 'oh cool' because who even cares"
Trouble Accessing the Internal
"I don't even know how to reach out to my emotions except in extreme cases. I refuse to be vulnerable even in front of my partners and I'm unable to understand why."
"This was partly why my relationships have all been utter failures."
"I don't think I'll ever be able feel love."
"I thought I made a good friend. He said he was a hugger and touched me a bunch of times. I touched his back some. He thanked me."
"Then two days later said it was creepy and I couldn't come over anymore."
"Then I made a new xbox friend. Super clingy. Then he got mad at me for some small thing said to a friend and said rude stuff and blocked me on everything."
"I need hugs, touch, loyal guy friends, and not to act like I'm trying to get with you for wanting it."
The Rule of Sixes
"... I feel invisible, because I don't have the 6 figure job, 6 pack, I'm not 6 feet tall, and I don't have a phallus longer than 6 inches."
"I haven't contributed anything significant to society and probably never will. I'm one of the ones that will be forgotten. No legacy."
"My eating disorder has gotten bad again. I'm extremely lonely and isolated. I've lost friends just by being 'independent and confident' and not texting and call first so now I'm nearly alone."
"I'm petrified about the future with a million paths and no direction, and I'm so stressed that I can't get a good pathway started."
"I'm terrified of dating because I still feel extremely insecure about my body. Tonight my first day off in while I woke up jerked off, binge ate junk food threw it up and started drinking and now I'm on reddit so yeah."
"I'm so depressed and anxious I don't know why."
The Desire to Dissolve
"I want to be free. I want to be free from nations, systems, norms, and ages. I hate feeling and thinking."
"This is a really beautiful planet but a really sad world."
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/
For many insecure fellas out there, anything that is not completely in line with the behavior of John Wayne in an old western film is to be avoided like the plague.
For such dudes, to really throw off the scent, not only is any and all emotionally expressive behavior NEVER displayed, but it must be called out when other, lesser men engage in that kind of moral transgression.
This finger pointing often takes a specific form: calling it "gay." It's a bit absurd, as the insult arises from a feeling that a man isn't performing gender right. But being gay has nothing to do with gender.
Hilarity ensues, though, when the calling out becomes so paranoid and vigilant that very strange things are deemed "gay."
u/ma_damn_blueberry asked, "Straight men of Reddit: what's the strangest thing you've been told not to do because 'that's gay'?"
A Real Man Would Start Over
I was reading a book and a couple dudes called me gay. Not for reading a book, but because I was using a bookmark.
There was a thread on here a while back where some poor girl told the world about an ex who wouldn't wipe himself or wash his genitals cause "touching a penis is gay"
Can't Imagine How Ugly the Cup Holder Dispute Got
My brother-in-law and I went to a movie. He told me it was gay to sit next to him. I told him to stop being a b*tch and I sat right next to him. For the entire movie.Giphy
A Very Thin, Hollow, Dr. Pepper Filled Penis
Use a straw.
Because apparently it's like having a tiny peen in your mouth.
I still use straws and haven't had the urge to be with a man yet.Giphy
"No Being Dry!"
Linen shopping. By my best friend.
That's nice bro, but I need towels. Deal with it.Giphy
A Far Cry From "No Thank You"
A guy in the bus offered his seat to a woman that was standing. She looked at him and said "Are you gay or something?" like it's gay to be polite.
The Long Stem Mimosa Glass Really Set Off the Alarms
Brunch. If steak, eggs and alcohol at noon are gay, well then f*ck it.
The Most Aggressive Review of a Pedicure
Get a pedicure. Holy f*ck that sh*t feels so good!Giphy
A Stone Would be Hotter
Girl - "Oh, I thought you were gay"
Me - "What?!? Haha, noooo. Why did you think that?"
Girl - "Because you were smiling so big and laughing a lot"
I grew up in California before moving to the east coast as a teenager.
I've been told all Californian's are gay or at least bi, more than once.Giphy
High Schoolers are Insane
I wore my watch on my right hand. Apparently when i was in high school that gay as f*ck.
Heterosexuality is Generated From the Plaque Between Your Teeth
Floss my teeth.
Apparently, gingivitis is something only hetero people have.Giphy
Bear in Tights
I sew renaissance type costumes as a hobby. I've been told I should stop doing it because sewing is either gay or women's work.
On the plus side I am a 6'2 bear of a man so when I tell them to f*ck off, they usually leave it be.
Fleetwood Mac. Nuff Said.
Enjoy female singers/fronted bands. I came from a very stupid place with a very stupid culture.
Clearly a Huge Freud Fan
My sister told me that her Psychology teacher explained that every man that went to see a prostitute were secretly gay because they were seeking out the previous man's penis inside the prostitute's vagina.
"Citrus is a Fruit, My Hands are Tied"
Tried to order a Mojito at a bar back when they were all the rage since I had only heard of them and never tried one.
Waiter looked at me and said "No. You're not gay so i wont get that for you."
But...i just wanted to try a popular cocktail....
Straight and Wet
My sister told me this gem.
Her male friend said he hated being a guy because he COULDN'T USE AN UMBRELLA.
"Lactose Proficient" is an Incredible Phrase
Drink milk. Especially chocolate milk. I've been singled out on 3 occasions, and was once called gay for it. By store clerks, no less.
I love milk and I'm lactose proficient, so I told them I'd use my lactose proficiency however I like.Giphy
Gay is the New Respectful
Having friends that are girls that you don't sexually harass.
Being a man can hold a lot of fear and uncertainty on its own. While they are expected to not show emotion, and are forced into the cycle of toxic masculinity, they have to deal with a number of internal struggles. Here are some of them from the men of Reddit.
u/Gullsko asked: Men of reddit, what's a thing that can be scary about being a man?
Middle age is scary.
It is terrifying how lonely middle age is. I can absolutely understand why so many middle-aged men commit suicide. I'm actually trying hard to get out and meet people, but it's difficult. I'm an outgoing guy, and it is hard to form friendships with other guys. Then I imagine how all the socially awkward men just don't even bother any more.
Why is this even an expectation?Giphy
Being expected to make the first move always gets me super anxious. I hate the idea of misreading a situation, or making a woman uncomfortable, so I tend to "disregard" a lot of obvious hints when I first start seeing someone.
This is so sad.
When I was a teenage boy, my sister fell into a river. My dad put his hand on my back and pushed me in after her, saying "go get her". Her leg was stuck on something but I got it free and she swam back to shore. I, however, was pinned by branches under the water that had somehow gotten around me (there was a whole tree under the surface). I remember looking up to the water's surface and seeing the silhouettes of my family members walk away from the edge and thinking "no! wait!".
Long story short, my fight-or-flight system kicked in and I scrambled as hard as I could to free myself and eventually got free and came up to take the best breath ever. When I was crawling back on the sand, my dad, sister and brother were about 100 yards down the bank. He turned and said, "c'mon!" and I hurried after while gagging on water. That about sums up my experience so far.
People just expect you to be "okay" in obviously dangerous situations. I knew guys who drank themselves to death because liquor is easy but saying "I need help" is hard.
That's f*cking disgusting.
My last relationship I got cheated on. She (my ex) spread rumours that I was abusive and violent, to hide the fact she's an unloyal person.
I had to find out through her best friend messaging me asking me if it was true, because I seemed like "the nicest person", and she wanted to know the truth. I explained and she was shocked. I was shocked. I didn't think she'd stoop lower than she had done already.
I'm lucky no one took her serious enough to contact the authorities.
Such busy bodies.Giphy
I am pretty young, but somehow, this sh*t still happens. I was playing with my sisters at the park, and we were playing tag. At one point, this middle aged lady comes up to my sisters and asks if they know me, and how they know me and whatever. I come up to her and say, those are my sisters, and she just gives me the stink eye, ignores me, and turns back to my sisters and keeps interrogating them. It was only after my mom came to see what was going on, that the lady left.
BTW, I'm in middle school, and have been mistaken for being 11 years old, so I don't know what that lady thought I was doing.
Self-awareness is good.
I don't know if it is actually "scary" for me, but awkward and something I overthink.
I am over 6'5", can kind of come off as intimidating do to that alone, but am really just a teddy bear. At my job, I have to walk through a dark alley in a downtown area, to get to the parking lot.
Lots of times, there are women walking back to go to their cars as well, and then my lumbering loner self is walking behind them. I feel awkward and scared they are going to think I am going to hurt them or am going to rob them or something. I'm just trying to get home!
I follow farther behind, always act as inconspicuous as possible, which probably makes me more suspicious, get on my phone like I am texting or act like I am calling someone so they can here I am far behind them and not stalking up on them.
Maybe it's just my social awkwardness or the fact there is a lot of crime that happens in our town, but I don't want to be seen as a threat by people I would never hurt.
Everyone expect so much of you and feel they owe you nothing. You must provide, you must defend, you must be solid as a rock and yet know how to deal with people in the most respectful and submissive way otherwise you will be the jerk.
In all situations if you are a man you will never be the victim at first, and if you are shame on you because you were not strong enough. You are responsible for everyone but no one needs to worry about you. Two man fighting? Both stupid, violent man just doing toxic men things. The reason for the fight does not matter, there are no victims here.
And then the loneliness. No one wants to be friends with you. I mean, as far as we know any man is a potential rapist, robber or killer, right? It is OK to discriminate man because they can handle it like a man, can't they?
On your own.Giphy
You're pretty much on your own.
Less of your problems are taken seriously, you're seen as weak if you can't sort them out. You're expected to throw yourself in harm's way at a moments notice.
The courts look at you less favourably, so does a large portion of society. You're seen as a potential rapist and child molester. I love kids but God forbid I smile at one in public.
You're the one who has to be able to sort everything out, even if you sometimes feel like just curling up in a ball and crying.
This is too real.
Speaking on behalf of my husband: the sheer expectation that he can shoulder everyone's stress. If you are a man with emotional intelligence, people will simultaneously act like you are both a rare unicorn, and that you must take that emotional intelligence and merge it with the "MEN CAN SHOULDER IT ALL" mentality.
This means he's utilized way too often by too many family and friends who don't make any emotional effort. He's asked to manage everyone's drama.
He doesn't, but the sheer expectation that he won't burn out simply because he's a man is hard to watch.
Not a loser.
Your whole identity is wrapped up in your job. You weren't born to be a doctor, lawyer or entrepreneur? You must be some kind of loser.
Your industry is laying people off? You're definitely a loser. Your fault for choosing the wrong major twenty years ago.
A horrible expectation.Giphy
The expectation that you have to deal with violent or dangerous situations. When I was a teenager at school, a guy in our class took a girl hostage with a knife in an unoccupied room. Our teacher was a woman, and literally grabbed me by the collar and shoved me into the room telling me to get the knife off of him. He attacked me, and in the chaos the girl managed to get out of the room. I couldn't though. I was stuck in the room with him with a cut on my chest. But it was ok though! Don't worry, because the girl had gotten to safety. The teacher even got a reward from the cops for her "quick thinking".
Even now, as a doctor, when a dangerous patient comes in its automatically given to me (the other registrars in the unit I work in are mostly women) and I get judged for having to have security with me.
I'm allowed to be afraid of being assaulted too.
Reading through these responses it's pretty overwhelmingly clear that most of these issues are caused by toxic masculinity and our societies expectations of masculinity which are also toxic. Many women are afraid of men because so many guys are downright predatory. That causes them to suspect every man because sometimes you just can't tell.
Almost every woman has had experiences with guys like this and it's frickking terrifying. So guys, it's not your fault, and it's not girls' fault, it's the fault of those douchebags and the people who raised them.
It starts young.
Always having women being scared of you.
I may only be in 6th grade but I'm a pretty big guy, I'm 5'10 and I was walking to my brother's car (I go to a K-12 School and my brother goes here too) and there was this small-er chick walking in front of me and she looked scared out of her head, every time she looked back she had an even more scared look on her face until we finally got to the turn and she just turn around and started walking the opposite direction until I got to my brother's car.
This isn't even the first time this has happened, people in my grade are scared of me, you can tell by their facial expressions, we even have to wear uniforms at my school and they don't make them in my size so they can see how much of a fat*ss I am. I really feel that this is going to affect me a lot in my next stages of life too.
Getting rejected sucks.Giphy
Rejection, always rejection. You are always expected to put yourself out there, be "The Man" and eventually you take the initial risk, and the higher the risk the worse you feel once rejected.
It can happen to men too.
That we can basically be accused of rape or sexual assault with zero evidence & almost every time, people will side with the accuser. It's scary that some random stranger, or even someone you know, can get pissed off, accuse you of something you never did, but others will rally to their side in support while demonizing you before any facts or proof are even provided.
On the flip side, if you're raped or assaulted as a guy, nobody believes you or they have the mentality that you "wanted it" or are always horny 24/7 so you should feel blessed/fortunate someone wanted to f*ck you so bad. That shit's traumatizing & honestly makes me sick...coincidentally when things like that happen, people (especially women) wonder why guys shy away from dating or won't get physical/intimate with them.
The #MeToo movement signaled the dawning of a new era of women's empowerment.
They were encouraged and supported by their peers to come forward with their stories that were formerly hidden out of shame and fear.
However, there is still more progress to be made in terms of the treatment of women in society and in the workplace. A conversation has begun about sexism and misogyny, and the fact it is still so prevalent.
Feminist Robin Zlotnick wrote an article, titled, "These Stories Illustrate Why Men Must Stand up to Misogynistic Behavior," saying that impactful change will happen only if men "take up the mantle and do the work of teaching other men that their sexist and misogynistic behavior is unacceptable."
Twitter user @emrazz, a.k.a. "The razzle lady," asked "good guys" to respond to a thread in which she asked what role they've played against misogyny.
"Good guys: tell me about a time you saw misogyny or predatory behavior in action and spoke up. What did you say? What are your suggestions for other men in this situation? #NotCoolMan"
Good guys: tell me about a time you saw misogyny or predatory behavior in action and spoke up. What did you say? Wh… https://t.co/JShsNy160u— feminist next door (@feminist next door)1551586944.0
A flood of responses came in with both men and women witnessing or engaging in acts of preventing predatory behavior.
The unfortunate reality is the fact that aggressive men need to be called out by other men in order to drive a point home.
@emrazz Some rando grabbed my behind at a bar; I laid into him. A guy overheard me, stepped in and asked if he touc… https://t.co/oONB3Qz79z— Ali K (@Ali K)1551590367.0
Backing up an assertion is more important than just reprimanding.
This person explained to his friend why joking about trans women is not cool.
The friend had no idea of their struggles in everyday life and hopefully gained a new perspective after being schooled.
@emrazz Someone i respected joked about pretending to be trans so they could get a job because of hiring quotas, an… https://t.co/QaPF2FCmgG— Benge eating my sorrows away (@Benge eating my sorrows away)1551587189.0
@emrazz My suggestion for other people in a situation like that is don't just speak up, explain *why* something is… https://t.co/epzeH41WoK— Benge eating my sorrows away (@Benge eating my sorrows away)1551587268.0
This is someone who took action against something that could have gone horribly wrong.
Turns out he had exceptional instincts.
@emrazz Two guys were trying to take this drunk girl into a room with them at a party and I refused to let them tak… https://t.co/kXBMxAPqvr— 243 years is enough, im voting Female in 2020. (@243 years is enough, im voting Female in 2020.)1551599925.0
@emrazz She contacted me the next day and thanked me for not letting her go with them. It turned out to be her abus… https://t.co/LQixc6DFwQ— 243 years is enough, im voting Female in 2020. (@243 years is enough, im voting Female in 2020.)1551600136.0
Casual quips like this need to be nipped in the bud.
Otherwise, the cycle is perpetual and damaging.
@emrazz My response is similar to others... A bartender said, “Check out her ass.” I don’t look, and say, “You ca… https://t.co/lZDRvFLVrq— Django S. Zeia (@Django S. Zeia)1551589301.0
If only more guys did this.
Like he says, "It's not hard."
@emrazz One of few times I’ve been to a club a guy was trying to get a girl to dance and was being aggressive so I… https://t.co/ebfuL6YSki— Cody Collins (@Cody Collins)1551587533.0
Catcalling needs to go.
It's gross, disrespectful and moronic.
That said, the response to this tactic is gold.
@emrazz When I see men cat calling women on the street I turn around and start doing it to them. It’s AMAZING.— Pete Dominick (@Pete Dominick)1551745598.0
This is something most parents don't address, but should.
@emrazz My father today informed me that he isnt comfortable that I let my two year old run around the house withou… https://t.co/Xtud1saNcV— TV's Josh Fisher 🎲🎮🃏 (@TV's Josh Fisher 🎲🎮🃏)1551588312.0
It's not always easy to confront aggressive behavior.
Kudos to this guy for his fortitude.
@emrazz I once saw two men in SF sexually harassing a woman pushing her baby in a stroller. I told them to leave he… https://t.co/bnquZOpRa8— Jeremy (@Jeremy)1551588751.0
@flippant80 @emrazz At least they must have stopped harassing her, if only briefly, so you may give her a chance to… https://t.co/F7AWVcAdFb— Gill Hay (@Gill Hay)1551598296.0
@flippant80 @fghays22 @emrazz I’ve been threatened physical harm by several random men in public because I dont act… https://t.co/Zf0UTBEZxm— Annie ~ ♏️♌️♏️ (@Annie ~ ♏️♌️♏️)1551612884.0
Feigning ignorance is another less combative, but effective, way to prevent harassment.
@emrazz i am petrified of confrontations, but one time i stood up on the bus to get between a guy hitting obviously… https://t.co/wrxcgCb8YR— Panic! at Uncle Joe's Apologies (@Panic! at Uncle Joe's Apologies)1551588208.0
Never joke about rape.
It will never be funny.
And reminding others about the fact will pay dividends.
@emrazz About a decade ago, guy in my office made a rape joke. I yelled at him in front of the whole team, like 8 p… https://t.co/bBssu9Asxf— Matt Macdonald (@Matt Macdonald)1551592331.0
The punishment for this kind of outdated sexism fit the times.
@SusChecked @emrazz A male classmate told me to make him a sandwich and our (male) teacher overheard and made him give me his lunch l— skylar, a badfish too (@skylar, a badfish too)1551588840.0
Repetition is a subtle yet effective way of shutting down guys like this judgemental dimwit.
@emrazz @ErynnBrook A guy I worked with in retail commented on clothing, calling the wearers “slutty.” Very non con… https://t.co/vpgl7pRI3J— Z "Supports Writers" Geoffroy (@Z "Supports Writers" Geoffroy)1551588099.0
The overwhelming number of responses in this thread show that we are turning a corner by calling out these sexist aggressions. Like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said, "We Should All Be Feminists".
But it also shows there is a lot of this behavior happening. How many more were not called out?
Keep speaking up.
Iowa High School Teacher Pens Powerful Post About The Root Of Homophobia After His Shirt Sparks A Conversation With His Students
When a student asked Leland Schipper about the shirt he was wearing, a gray t-shirt with a rainbow Iowa design on it, it opened up an opportunity to teach the class a valuable lesson.
Upon seeing the shirt, one student said to Leland:
"Mr. Schipper, I thought you were straight."
When he confirmed that he was, the student was confused why he would be wearing a rainbow shirt. What if someone thought he was gay?
Schipper's response is pure gold, and an excellent example of good allyship:
"They might...so what?"
A straight man being thought to be gay wasn't a bad thing—not something to be immediately or violently denied. He made the point that what others think of your sexuality is ultimately unimportant.
Leland went on to discuss his thoughts on the link between homophobia and unhealthy masculinity.
"I'm convinced the root of unhealthy masculinity is homophobia, and that becomes entrenched in middle and early high school years."
"Homophobia only ends if straight allies model to young kids, boys in particular, that being called gay isn't an inherently negative thing and doesn't require a defensive response."
"It's difficult to do, but if we take the homophobia out of schools, we not only improve the lives of LGTBQ+ youth, but all kids who fear being labeled as gay by their peers."
You can read Schipper's whole post below:
Schipper has focused on homophobia and toxic masculinity in his lessons in the past, too.
He wrote about one such lesson on Facebook (content warning: linked post contains a picture that includes anti-LGBT slurs in a teaching context).
"I am running another seminar this week addressing masculinity with a group of twenty 15-year-old young men. Yesterday we created this man box which represents what they think society expects men to be."
"These are their uncensored ideas, and the words around the outside are the words they hear their peers most frequently use if a male is 'stepping outside the man box' (i.e. showing emotions, asking for help, getting good grades, not wanting to have sex)."
"It becomes immediately clear through talking to boys and young men, the single most powerful thing that keeps boys inside the man box is homophobia."
The kids Schipper works with realize that a lot of their drive to avoid being seen showing emotion or doing other things considered un-manly is the desire to avoid being called gay.
They just don't always know what to do about it.
"They are all keenly aware that the fear of being labeled gay is one of the biggest road blocks preventing them from feeling comfortable stepping outside of the man box."
The boys in Schipper's lesson were ready to make a change.
"able to be deeply empathetic and reflective on how they accidentally perpetuate homophobia through their words and actions."
"We discussed how homophobia effects their openly gay peers, their questioning peers, and even straight males who feel pressure to prescribe to the strict rules of the man box."
Most importantly, after talking about the problem, the students were ready to commit to change.
"We ended with an agreement that they would all take a tiny step towards being LGBTQ+ Allies by focusing 100% on not using a single one of the man-box hate words for the rest of the day."
Change isn't easy, and mistakes will be made, but the boys' desire to be better was real.
"In my last block, one of the kids who had committed earlier that morning slipped up. He called another kid gay for not giving him his pencil back."
"He immediately made eye contact with me and said, 'It's hard Mr. Schipper, I know I said it, I'm sorry.' All I said was, 'At least you heard it, so now try again tomorrow.'"
The best part of this encounter was the student going on to explain the interaction to his classmates. He told them why his comment was wrong, about Schipper's lesson and why he was trying to be better.
The response to Leland's posts was overwhelmingly positive.
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Many appreciated his efforts to make the world a better place.
David Thayne Martin/Facebook
Jessica Emerson Bingham/Facebook
This is all anyone can do—try to be better.
Mistakes will happen, but it is through efforts like this to de-stigmatize the LGBTQ+ community that everyone benefits.
Find your own rainbow state flag t-shirt here, and wear it proudly!