Toxic Masculinity: How Toxic?

by Charlotte Chute

In class, we discussed the Taylor Mali poems and how this poet induces emotion through his unique writing style. Mali uses more of an informal style of writing which sounds more personal and is much more individualistic, especially when he performs. 

We read two of his poems, one titled Tony Steinberg: Brave Seventh Grade Viking Warrior which alludes to a beautiful story about a little boy who gets cancer, and how it affects his school life. In this poem, vikings beliefs and mythology is used to express how brave Tony was, and symbolizes his support system which was his classmates. His classmates went bald for him, and at the end of the poem they burned their vikings ship.

The second poem we read was called The Penis Warriors, and this poem was aimed more towards a middle school boy finding familiarity in his own masculinity. Mali has a theme of masculinity and the essence of it in younger boys.

These two poems have an overarching theme of adolescence and the innocence of children. Both of these poems are about boys, and highlights how boys act before they go through puberty, and succumb to the societal expectations of toxic masculinity.

Iron John is about a boy who is discovering his masculine touch. In this poem, there is a distinct difference between a wild man and a savage man. The savage man abuses women and ruins the environment, whereas a wild man is more in touch with his emotions. In this story, the wild man is meant to symbolize masculinity.

So, what is the point of writing about masculinity? 

Toxic masculinity is too common, and is what the title says it is: toxic! Society does not benefit from this behavior, so writing about it gives the power to raise awareness to it.



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