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Toxic masculinity the bane of Vietnamese society

October 16, 2022 | 04:34 pm PT
Do Bang Trinh
Almost every Vietnamese family abides by the patriarchal commandments about men having to be the family's pillar, strong and unemotional and boost social standing.

The concept of an ideal man, including physical prowess, ferocity and ruthlessness in pursuing power and social standings is toxic, not just for men, but for society as a whole.

The stereotype suppresses "feminine" traits like emotional sensitivity and openness to assistance from others. It imposes behavioral traits on the breadwinners, including women.

These standards and expectations of how a man should act places a lot of familial and societal obligations on men's shoulders and this is also a poisoning, mental and physical.

Traditionally, in the East and in the West, men have been given a higher social standing than women. For millennia.

Aristotle placed men above women and women above slaves, with decreasing social commands. Women had to serve under men in a household and only a man would be considered a full-fledged national citizen.

Aristotle allegedly considered women more impulsive, more complaining and more deceptive, while men were believed to be more courageous and willing to offer assistance to others. Plato, meanwhile, thought that while women might be considered equal to men in rationality and occupational capacity, they were considered inferior in strength and virtue.

Even the more modern Western philosophers still held strong sexist arguments in their ideas. Hegel, a philosopher, is said to have considered women as playing a complementary role to men in building a family, while Schopenhauer malignantly saw women as fundamentally inferior to men, naive, vain, short-sighted and arrogant, like a big but immature child.

The East shares the blame for prescribing women’s inferiority. China’s Confucius even equated women with morally corrupt men, rude and uneducable.

Toxic masculinity and sexism go hand in hand in Eastern cultures in general, and Vietnamese culture is no exception, unfortunately. Men have always been more valued than women, creating a deep-seated prejudice that has lasted centuries.

In Chinese, there are at least 16 words with woman-degenerating connotations, while in Vietnamese, sexist proverbs are rampantly. Sayings about women’s "lack of education with inferior understanding" and "needing to be re-educated by the husband’s family" were used by generations to teach young boys (and girls) how to behave.

A family that could not reproduce a male heir was considered unfortunate and socially inferior.

Nowadays, with globalization, we have a better understanding of toxic masculinity as a global issue inflicting considerable social damage.

First, toxic masculinity wrecks family happiness. Many families have broken up or reached the brink over the lack of a male child. The main victims of domestic violence continue to be women and children.

Second, the "masculine man" is often alone in facing the hardships involved in supporting the family in increasingly harsh situations, with no real empathy from the family or society because it is seen as his responsibility. This often leads to undiagnosed depression, leading to many other issues like alcoholism and drug addiction.

Third, though men are traditionally considered the main drivers of toxic masculinity, the long-standing conception has influenced many women as well, creating a vicious reinforcing cycle. It is time for both genders to reconsider their roles in facilitating a more neutral, fair society.

Fourth, it should be recognized that this toxicity is taken on by many females a way of reasserting their positions in society, using toxic masculinity to abase men, in some cases. Though women taking on toxic masculine traits might temporarily revert the power dynamic in individual cases, these actions further fortify the concept and metastasize our shared social problem.

*Do Bang Trinh is studying for master's degree in public policy at Fulbright University, HCMC.

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