Icelandic men are starting to recognise that toxic masculinity is a problem they bear the responsibility of solving, and have started a social media campaign to help do so.
With the MeToo campaign in full swing, numerous feminists have pointed out that stemming abusive behaviour is not solely a matter of women speaking up – men need to fix themselves, too. Vísir reports that one Icelandic man, Þorsteinn V. Einarsson, has taken up the banner of encouraging men to do exactly that.
Þorstein says he got the idea after a conversation with noted Icelandic feminist Sóley Tómasdóttir. Using the hashtag #karlmennskan (literally, “masculinity”), he is encouraging men to share stories of how toxic masculinity harmed them, hindered them, or otherwise caused damage to themselves and those around them.
Quoting a female friend of his, he exhorts men to share stories on Facebook and Twitter regarding “All the dads that didn’t know they may hug their children. All the guys who didn’t study because it wasn’t cool. All kinds of games that boys aren’t supposed to play, fields of study that aren’t realistic options. Behaviour, interests and skills that were never developed. Feelings that weren’t expressed. Emotions that were never discussed.”
The campaign has proven quite popular so far, with men sharing stories of bottling up their sadness for fear of crying in public, of being ridiculed for working in jobs traditionally held by women, and of fearing hate and ridicule for defending women online. Þorstein believes these stories are just the tip of the iceberg.
“I’ve received a lot of messages from men who said they liked the campaign and were grateful for it, but were not ready to share their stories,” he told reporters. “That underlines just how serious this situation is.”
Þorstein also emphasises that this campaign, like the MeToo campaign, should not be taken as a personal attack on men.
“Guys shouldn’t look at the MeToo campaign as a personal attack against them,” he said. “Because it is not, at all. It’s an attacked on the systemic inequality that we maintain with our apathy and lack of action. We want to address the gendered reality.”
There is no rule that these testimonials must be in Icelandic, so everyone should feel free to use the #karlmennskan hastag in sharing their stories of how toxic masculinity made their lives worse.
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