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The concept of toxic masculinity is used in academic and media discussions to refer to those aspects of hegemonic masculinity that are socially destructive, such as misogyny, homophobia and violent domination. These traits are considered "toxic" due in part to their promotion of violence, including sexual assault and domestic violence. Socialization of boys sometimes also normalizes violence, such as in the saying "boys will be boys" about bullying and aggression.
Self-reliance and emotional repression are correlated with increased psychological problems in men such as depression, increased stress, and substance use disorders. Toxic masculine traits are characteristic of the unspoken code of behavior among men in prisons, where they exist in part as a response to the harsh conditions of prison life.
Other traditionally masculine traits such as devotion to work, pride in excelling at sports, and providing for one's family, are not considered to be "toxic". The concept was originally used by authors associated with the mythopoetic men's movement, such as Shepherd Bliss. These authors contrasted stereotypical notions of masculinity with a "real" or "deep" masculinity, which they said men had lost touch with in modern society. Critics of the term toxic masculinity argue that it incorrectly implies that gender-related issues are caused by inherent male traits.
The concept of toxic masculinity has been criticized by conservative writers and authors as an undue condemnation of traditional masculinity, and by some feminists[who?] as an essentialist concept that ignores the role of choice and context in causing harmful behaviors and attitudes related to masculinity.
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