WOW | Men Speak

How do you deal with toxic masculinity

Society is rife with rigid norms set around femininity and masculinity, what it means to ‘be a man’ and ‘act like a girl’. From expectations to be tough, strong and confident to being ambitious, wealthy and dependable, men have an array of responsibilities and expectations thrust upon them right from birth. These norms often come hand-in-hand with repressive ideas about ‘being a man’ which impede the personal development of men through pressure to be aggressive, powerful, violent, have the ability to establish dominance, be emotionally inaccessible to show strength, etc. Boys are always told… men don’t cry. Aakriti Maya of WOW asks a range of Nepali men to introspect into the ways toxic masculinity affects them.

Compiled by:  Aakriti Maya Aryal

Ritesh Raj Gurung

I consider myself to be very lucky because I was raised in a very open-minded family, one that accepts different lifestyles and values emotional maturity, and for these reasons I felt very supported as a child to express myself, however I wanted. My mother and my aunt played a very instrumental role in this and encouraged me to pursue whatever I wanted without considering gender-specific norms or expectations. When I was at school, I would see many instances of toxic masculinity where girls were forced into certain boxes and boys were forced into others, but as a child, I didn’t spend much time with friends. In fact, I only started having a proper group of male friends when I was in my teens. During this time, there were definitely moments when I expressed myself in a different way and got some snide remarks such as being teased with ‘are you gay’ comments which I attributed to ignorance rather than malice. I definitely feel that this ignorance traces back to the values that you are taught as a child and that parents often shy away from teaching their children the invalidity of gender roles and the importance of respect for all. Even though I did have this kind of guidance growing up, the experience that really made me comfortable to express my emotions was my involvement in pranic healing. That is where I learned that emotions directly affect your physiology making the practice of proper emotions and regulation of negative thoughts critical to the well being of an individual. Whatever hold society’s gender norms had on me, I was truly able to shed then because showing emotions is an essential part of the human experience and you can’t let society rob you of that.