And all of what you’ve described is caused by patriarchy and the terrible demands it makes on men — the loneliness and isolation it requires to really be a “real man”; the constant need to joust for position and to never get be really close to other men after you leave about junior high because you are now ever in competition with them. People who are trying to talk about toxic masculinity are trying to point out the ways that it hurts men as well as women, but they keep getting shouted down — by other men. Because if you admit that you don’t got it all under control, that shows weakness — another terrible by-product of the “man box” that patriarchy demands.

And, both the World Health Organization and the CDC say that violence against women is at epidemic proportions. So, you can keep tossing that off as not an actual issue or problem, but people who actually study and track it say differently. Excerpted from a recent WHO study:

Violence against women is not a new phenomenon, nor are its consequences to women’s physical, mental and reproductive health. What is new is the growing recognition that acts of violence against women are not isolated events but rather form a pattern of behaviour that violates the rights of women and girls, limits their participation in society, and damages their health and well-being. When studied systematically, as was done with this report, it becomes clear that violence against women is a global public health problem that affects approximately one third of women globally.

By compiling and analysing all available data from studies designed to capture women’s experiences of different forms of violence, this report provides the first such summary of the violent life events that many women experience. It documents not only how widespread this problem is, but also how deeply women’s health is affected when they experience violence.

So, rather than making it into a contest about who has been hurt worst, how about we start working towards a world that is kinder and better for everyone; where people get to be who they actually are without having to meet the expectations set forth by others based in old, outdated structures? A dominance based hierarchy (patriarchy) is the problem. It hurts both men and women and if more men would realize that and stop reflexively defending a system that exacts a terrible toll from them, we’d all be a lot better off.

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Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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