What is Toxic Masculinity?
The term toxic masculinity is best and easily understood in terms of emotional repression, self-reliance and a restatement of traditional stereotypes on men. This socially constructed expectation of masculinity includes archaic notions that men are inherently obliged to repress their emotions, devaluation of women and anything feminine within other men and the like. In many Muslim cultures, often the idea of being a “real” man is acquainted to someone who is emotionally repressive because that is deemed as having strength.
Islam as Guidance
When you look at the Qu’ran and the Sunnah, the idea of a real man can best be seen in Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). We often see him as a man who is constantly in touch with his own emotions. For instance, at a time when he is facing a difficult moment in his journey to Allah, he often sought emotional support and guidance by turning to his wife – and transforming his vulnerability into strength.
The Importance of Male Vulnerability & Emotions
Emotions is what makes us human, for as long as we consider the expression of emotion as weakness, it is difficult to be your authentic self. As succinctly highlighted by Dr. Omar Shareef, a New York psychiatric resident in a recent talk, “learning to acknowledge and express emotions, by using examples like the Prophet (PBUH), is the key to healthy masculinity”.
Emotional intelligence is more than just handling interpersonal relationships and empathizing others. It is being kind to yourself and giving yourself a channel to express your feelings healthily in order to stay in touch with your soul.
As we navigate our way through the difficulties in our lives and in the world every day, allow emotional space to yourself. Everyone carries within themselves weaknesses, pain and trauma and without a medium to release it, the difficulties will continue to mountain. Open your heart and let yourself breathe easily; after all, we should take the lead from our sunnah and how our PBUH navigated the tribulations in his life.