By Jackie Bueno
With my background in restorative justice, reading “I Was Forced to Fight, Now I’m Learning to Cry” all made sense to me. Cooper’s testimony as a black man confronting the realities of masculinity made me more understanding of how I as a womxn of color and others are affected by toxic masculinity, especially in heterosexual relationships.
I’ve witnessed firsthand the effects of toxic masculinity in relationships and know of similar realities other womxn of color face as a result of the socialization heavily embedded in toxic masculinity of the men they date and marry. Attitudes/actions such as male partners showing aggression towards their female partners and/or children with physical and emotional violence but failing to adequately have deep discussions with their partners without the use of anger or physical violence.
Womxn of color often remain silent about their experience with toxic masculinity, because oftentimes, this behavior by men is something that is taught to be normalized or justified, especially by women.
New statistics show why we need to speak up and develop awareness in our communities.
According to TIME Magazine, Black womxn are three times more likely than White womxn to experience death as a result of domestic violence and intimate partner violence.
According to the National Latin@ Network, 1 in 3 Latin@s have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime, and 50% of Latin@ womxn that are victims never report it.
While domestic violence is definitely an issue amongst womxn of color on a social level, I’ve also witnessed how women can be drawn in as enablers of toxic masculinity in their families and communities.
I’ve seen and know many families of color justify the use of violence to discipline their children.
I’ve heard womxn of color justify men cheating on their female partners or justify the sexualization of womxn deemed appropriate in marriage because that’s what the womxn should do and that’s just how men are — pigs.
I’ve been told that a womxn should listen to her man about what kind of hair and clothing she should wear.
Religion also plays a role in keeping women in relationships that are toxic and potentially dangerous, particularly women of older generations, whereas most white womxn and families I know deem divorce as an acceptable option if necessary when marriages seem no longer feasible for emotional reasons.
This makes sense given that the Catholic Church formed the spearhead of colonization in Latin America and the Philippines. As we study our histories with more perspective, I think we need to seriously reevaluate religion’s role for staying in emotionally and physically risky relationships where males are perpetrators of toxic masculinity by asking the following:
● How is my religion no longer serving my emotional and physical needs in a relationship?
● Why is it no longer serving my emotional and physical needs in a relationship?
● How can we modify the practices and beliefs of certain religions, so that they align with my emotional and physical needs in a relationship?
In conclusion, I think that the realities of toxic masculinity are much more dire for men and womxn of color because in addition to being subject to victims of systemic, institutional, cultural, and individual racism daily, we tend not to analyze the socialization of toxic masculinity in our cultures (from birth forward). And we’re less likely to talk about it publicly, because of the stigmas we already face.
Our communities need more, not less support from organizations that have a lot of influence over people’s lives such as the Church, the workplace, the legislative and healthcare system, etc. to ensure resources are readily available and tailored to our own experiences of toxic masculinity. People need to open up with each other, so that people don’t feel so alone.
There’s also untapped potential among womxn who can serve as allies to men to help end toxic masculinity.
I understand some women’s deep-seated bias against men, a sense that they’re assholes or pigs, but at the end of the day, we cannot continue to believe that men can only be typecasts into this socially constructed stereotype that does not serve men and women in a constructive way.
I firmly believe that we can have these discussions are through more community engagement and embracing techniques such as restorative justice.
We must believe and continue to educate both parties of what toxic masculinity is and how we can work to change and address it day by day.
Jackie Bueno is a senior at UC Berkeley studying Sociology. For further inquiries or if you would like to be featured, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Violence, see these links:
Photo courtesy of Business Insider