I was kicked out of Men’s Health Group on Facebook for Voicing My Concerns About Toxic Masculinity

Earlier this year, I joined a Facebook group called “Men’s Mental Health.” I was hoping I could do quite a bit of research for my new mental wellness blog AMOME. I was looking to find out what type of mental help men are looking for, and I also wanted to share some of the things that I have found helpful. The group was great for people who needed help and encouragement from their fellow men. Guys would share anything, and everything that was going on in their lives, and a flood of positive reinforcement would come pouring in. I would mostly observe. I did chime in a few times when I thought my advice could help the person seeking it. Even my advice would get a bunch of positive comments and advice. It seems like everyone was there to encourage each other, which I thought was a rare sight to see online these days.

The only time I saw any kind of disagreements in the group was when someone would bring up the topic of “Toxic Masculinity”. For some reason, this was a divisive issue. Some people were dead against it. Some people denied its existence. Some embraced it and rendered it a necessity. For the most part, I stayed out of those conversations because I wasn’t there to argue with anyone. However, just like any other place online where people openly converse, some people saw posting “What are your thoughts on Toxic Masculinity” as an opportunity to seek attention and start a debate. It wasn’t long after that every other post was about Toxic Masculinity, and the proponents of it didn’t waste any time responding to every single post. It seemed like most men saw the backlash at Toxic Masculinity as somehow being an attack on men. This is, of course, due to thought leaders such as Jordan Peterson, who have provided solace for men who feel like they have lost their ways and are looking for guidance. Of course, nothing can be further from the truth. The criticism towards toxic masculinity is not an attack on men in any way, and it best it is a weak argument to what seems to be a growing and complicated social debate.

I went against my gut feeling and decided to join the debate, which sadly ended in my removal from the group. I don’t have access to the thread anymore, but I will do my best to convey the messages and the sentiments shared by myself and others who debated the issue.

My first comment regarding the question “What are your thoughts on Toxic Masculinity” was:

“There is nothing wrong with masculinity itself. It is ok to be masculine. Toxic masculinity is when your masculinity starts infringing on other people’s happiness and freedom. No one is going to criticize you for helping an elderly person with their groceries or changing the tires for someone who is stranded by the side of the road.”

I feel like my comment resonated with most of the proponents of the issue since it clearly sets apart what is and is not being criticized when it comes to toxic masculinity. However, there were a few people who came out swinging. One said toxic masculinity is a term created to “turn men into pussies”. I pointed out that his comment was a great example of toxic masculinity. He replied that he is having no problem raising two sons who are real men with manners. I politely pointed out the obvious to him. He then asked me to “insult him” and that “my testosterone” will appreciate me insulting him. I was beginning to see the problem. I opted out of insulting him, and lo and behold, my testosterone still appreciated me.

He asked if I preferred to be “saved from a burning building by a woman or a 230-pound man”. I asked, “how about a 230-pound woman?”. He replied, “it depends on if it’s all fat or muscles”. At this point, another man interjected himself into the conversation, stating that he was in fact saved from a burning building by a woman, which got an immediate standing ovation… from me. That comment brought that particular conversating to a halt.

Moments later, another conversation started by another gentleman who claimed most men who are suffering from mental health do so because a single mother raised them. This is where the conversation got heated. I can understand run-of-the-mill sexism and all the ignorant, misinformed aspects of it, but assigning blame for the current state of mental health among men entirely to single mothers is on a whole other twisted dimension. It made me irritated that men have turned to scapegoat women for their own issues and insecurities. I can understand that family in general, regardless of the number and gender of parents, can cause severe mental health issues for young children who carry it into adulthood. To put the burden on single mothers is rooted entirely in sexism and the notion that women are not as capable as men in raising children on their own.

I believe it was at this point when the admin removed me from the group. At first, I was a little uneasy about being removed. I thought I might have gone too far in making my point. After giving it some thought, I realized I didn’t go far enough. While I wholeheartedly understand the point of a Men’s Mental Health group is to encourage other members and send positive affirmational messages, I don’t think the same courtesy should be granted to wrong ideas such as sexism and misogyny. Men shouldn’t be egging each other on when dishonest and propagandized ideas are shared, especially behind “closed doors”. If we believe in equality and justice for all, which we all should, we must stand up for what is right, even at the risk of rejection and ejection.

Most of us suffer from some sort of mental health issues, and we should look for the roots of our problems and ways to improve our mental health. Blaming others for your problems is not a healthy way of improving your mental health. It brings resentment and creates a whole other array of mental health issues for you. Unfortunately, people like Jordan Peterson capitalized on the vulnerable minds of men suffering from mental health issues by dividing the gender gap and misrepresenting women as a source of chaos and disarray in men’s lives.

I hope that enough men would make a point out of standing up for sexism because that by itself creates an array of mental health disorders for women. If we want to find peace and happiness, we must become the change we want to see in the world. Stand up for justice and equality. Create a positive world. Show kindness to strangers.

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Piran Zarifian

“Change is the end result of all true learning.” ~ Leo Buscaglia