Does Toxic Masculinity Exist Within Hip Hop? – By Nomsa Motale

We live in a society that has taught and conditioned us into thinking a certain way. Behaving a certain way and expressing ourselves. Phrases like “Man up!” “Real men do this and that” “Real men do not cry” All these phrases have somehow shaped the ideology of what masculinity is and how it should look. These learned mindsets have also contributed into defining “What a man is and is not?” With mental illness at an alarming rate, it has been supposedly reported that men who have been under the age of 50 have tried to commit suicide. It is evident to see that toxic masculinity has somehow hidden and played a part in suppressing the emotions that men should feel openly to express.

Labeling men as strong hard rocks who have no emotions and or not strong enough for displaying empathy, sensitivity, softness. Which are natural human traits and should not be limited to specific gender. The Hip Hop industry is known for it’s competitive nature, especially among-st men. The need for ego boost comes from competing. With that said, does that mean it breeds a space for “toxic masculinity?”

Well here are a few rappers who have confronted certain aspects of “masculinity” and what it means to them:

We’ve heard people call Drake “soft” for being so open about his emotions, but yet so many men relate to him because Drake has somehow confronted “toxic masculinity” in someway, by letting men know that it is okay to be in-touch with your emotions.

Then we have J.Cole, who has numerous of times opened up about his insecurities, weakness, addictions and emotions without any apology, his recent album KOD enraptured so many social ill’s that happen on a daily and he was not scared of how his “masculinity” would be challenged.

Then we also have Kendrick Lamar who has also used his rapping skill, to open up about the things that matter to him. His love songs, expose a more vulnerable, softness, empathetic side that leaves him bare open and he somehow challenges himself in that area.

So, if people like “rappers” who are known for being hard-core, can challenge the different notions of what masculinity should look like…then does that mean that everybody else in society knows that emotions are a basic human thing and not a specific gender notion. That we all have the right to be vulnerable without being called names or ashamed. Opening up about your problems and displaying emotions, does not make you less of a man but makes you human.

If more men can confront toxic masculinity and be open to what makes them angry and speak out then that will deflate issues like gender violence, so there is no need for a man to project his past trauma’s on a woman or his partner can be exposed. But this can only come from accountability and confrontation with self!

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