Toxic Masculinity’s Origins and Modern Cinema

Emma Reed, Brittany Barron, English Department, Florida State University, 600 W College Avenue, Tallahassee, Fl, 32306

First appearing in the 1990s, the term “toxic masculinity” refers to degrading behavior men inflict on the opposite sex. Men who reflect toxic masculinity show traits of stoicism, toughness, and a lack of emotional sensitivity. Research has shown that men will result to violence when these values and traits are threatened or criticised. According to the American Psychology Association, in 2017, “1,686 murders included female victims and male perpetrators and 93% of the victims were murdered by men they knew.” Given these statistics, toxic masculinity has become the traditional norm for how boys and men are expected to behave. The effects of toxic masculinity have caused women to fear men on the streets, in relationships, and in a working environment. In recent years, the discussion of toxic masculinity and violence has increased in volume and many psychologists are debating the causes and origins for such toxic behavior. I found that the introduction to gender roles at an early age begins the development; parental influence and impression on traditional gender roles are primary sources for toxic masculinity. However, while parental influence may develop toxic behavior, the entertainment industry has reinforced toxic masculinity, promoting the “boys will be boys” mentality and romanticization of abusive dominance. Characters such as Han Solo from Star Wars, Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire, and Edward Cullen from Twilight Saga reflect morally questionable behavior in such a way that these traits are deemed appealing and desirous rather than dangerous and abusive. My research also yielded findings which show the “snowball effect” of how these characters influence the highly impressionable male audience. The characters’ negative behaviors are replicated by men, which then perpetuates negative gender stereotypes of dominant males and subordinate females. 


Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Emma Reed

Institution: Florida State University

Type: Oral

Subject: Interdisciplinary Studies

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Oral 2
Date/Time: Mon 3:00pm-4:00pm
Session Number: 230
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