Toxic masculinity refers to the notion that some people’s idea of “manliness” perpetuates domination, homophobia, and aggression. The idea that men need to act tough and avoid showing all emotions can be harmful to a man’s mental health and can have serious consequences for society, which is how it became known as “toxic masculinity.”
Toxic masculinity can be defined as “the need to aggressively compete and dominate others. It encompasses the most problematic proclivities in men as a sub-species. The socialization of boys in patriarchal societies often normalizes violence, such as in the saying “boys will be boys” about bullying and aggression while simultaneously championing negative traits such as insensitivity, over-competitiveness, and being unwilling to admit weakness.
Black toxic masculinity is a unique dynamic that has roots in white supremacy and internalized racism. It is much more nuanced. Some say it is a direct symptom of the humiliation and terror that black men have endured throughout America’s history. There are many definitions of “toxic masculinity” that appear in research as well as pop culture. Iconic examples of this idea like singer R Kelly and Alice Walker’s fictional character “Mistah” from The Color Purple are low hanging fruit of what is considered toxic masculinity in the melanated community.
The debate over PC-culture terms like “toxic masculinity” is a tough one; what’s offensive to me might not be offensive to you. Those critical of so-called woke concepts often invoke the idea that they are being “canceled” or a victim of “cancel culture.” With that said, historically, men have defined lines that should not be crossed in human civilization.
According to the Law of Diminishing Returns, the value we get from a consistent investment of energy begins to decrease at a certain point. Can trying so hard to eliminate the negative or “toxic” traits of masculinity be taken too far? Is there a danger in by gutting the worse aspects of masculinity, we also deconstruct the traits responsible for energizing the engine of a stable society? Is there a real risk of throwing the baby out with the bath water? There is a growing ground swell of people who are beginning to question whether the negative aspects of such an aggressive collective campaign will ultimately outweigh the positives. At what point do even the positive characteristics of masculinity like protectiveness, leadership, and just being a simple problem solver become labeled as toxic?
The phrase “Hold the Line” alludes to a military tactic, in which a line of troops was supposed to hold strong to prevent an enemy breakthrough. An all-male ensemble of some of Atlanta’s most talented black male artists will draw and hold said line using a wide array of visual styles, techniques, and mediums.
Black men… men in general, need to have a healthy or balanced sense of masculinity. Men who are more connected with their emotions will experience increased life satisfaction, self-esteem, and decreased rates of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. The Hold the Line Exhibition aims to create a healthy dialog around this heavily debated subject.
Exhibition Title: Hold The Line
Opening Reception: August 19th 2022
Closing Date: September 24th 2022
Time: 7pm – 9pm
Location: Arts Clayton Gallery
136 S Main St, Jonesboro, GA 30236
Art Director and Gallery Manager: Brian Hebert
Curators: rEN Dillard and Brian Hebert