Feminist, writer, and video content creator Mohammed Farhan is charming the internet with his simple, to-the-point, and informative TikTok videos. Not only is he addressing very important women’s issues, but he’s also showing the proper way to react to them and what to avoid doing as a man.
In short, Mohammed seems like a great incarnation of healthy, wholesome masculinity who focuses on support, empathy, and equality, instead of victim-blaming and posturing. We’ve collected some of Mohammed’s best insights below, so have a peek, and be sure to let us know what you think of them, dear Pandas.
Toxic masculinity as a whole isn’t just a fancy modern buzzword—it can lead to very real social, mental, and physical problems down the line if left unchecked and if traditional masculine values are taken to the extreme. Sexism is just the tip of the iceberg.
Mohammed shared with Bored Panda the best approach to fighting both sexism and toxic masculinity. In his opinion, a part of this fight revolves around early education, specifically with regard to how sex ed is taught.
"But more importantly, I believe, is teaching young men of their specific roles in the patriarchy and how toxic masculinity is dangerous to both themselves and those around them," he said, calling for introspective activism. "We should also work to build a culture where men hold other men accountable for the perpetuation of rape culture we have become accustomed to. As men, a lot of us have to unlearn these damaging habits. As men, we have to play an active role if we want to see change."
Bored Panda also had a chat about toxic and healthy masculinity with psychotherapist Silva Neves. According to Silva, toxic masculinity isn’t about behaviors “but about a general attitude perpetuated by systemic misogyny.” Read on for his full insights.
The video creator is optimistic and confident that social media can accelerate "substantive changes" in society if applied properly. "My videos have has an amazing reception in men reaching out to me for both helping them realize their role in the patriarchy and people who feel more comfortable being openly an ally to women’s struggles," Mohammed told Bored Panda.
And while he believes that we can all make "drastic changes in a single generation," he's also realistic about the fact that "full scale," substantive changes may require more time. "But I believe we live in a moment where revolutionary feminist politics can flourish," he said.
Mohammed also shared a bit more about himself and his aspirations. He has both a bachelor's and a master's degree in politics and will be continuing his studies. "I’m doing my PhD next year on sex workers and how neoliberalism has influenced the sex industry and the alienation of sex workers from their labor. From my degree, I’ve had chances to work with various political organizations—many of which were led by intelligent and inspiring women, many of which helped me into feminist discourse and even actively protesting for these causes."
Meanwhile, psychotherapist Silva explained to Bored Panda that toxic masculinity is “a set of distorted ideas about what men should be like,” noting that lying at the core of these ideas are the notions that men shouldn’t feel vulnerability, should “always be winners,” and shouldn’t be ‘weak’ or ‘soft.’
“Men with toxic masculinity usually have negative views towards women's rights (including their rights to the freedom of their own sexuality) and they tend to be homophobic,” Silva said.
“A man with healthy masculinity is the opposite to these traits: someone who is self-reflective, embraces their emotions including sadness, anxiety and crying, a man who isn't afraid of their own femininity and believes that women are equal, and therefore are very clear about respecting boundaries and consent with women,” the psychotherapist explained the difference between followers of toxic and healthy masculinity.
According to the expert, healthy masculinity means that a person “embraces gender, sex, and relationship diversities including gay men and transgender people. Someone who is comfortable with their opinions to be challenged and able to have debates.”
According to ‘Medical News Today,’ an overly large emphasis on toxic masculinity can result in aggression, suppressing emotions, the need to dominate and control others, and a lack of empathy. What’s more, it can result in a tendency to either engage in violence or glorify it, lead to chauvinism, and can even bring about acts of sexual aggression.
Meanwhile, the inability to live up to these standards and expectations that society places on men can have some very negative consequences as well. For example, somebody who isn’t ‘manly enough’ might become the victim of bullying at school (though that behavior can and does continue on into college and even work).
What’s more, some people who can’t reach these standards feel a lot of pressure in their lives and turn to substance abuse as a way of coping. Society’s reaction to a person not being ‘manly enough,’ can lead to stress, psychological trauma, depression, issues with one’s body image, and can even force men to take their own lives.
Furthermore, toxic masculinity as a whole can also prevent some men from going to a doctor or healthcare specialist if they’re feeling unwell. That’s because some consider it to be ‘unmanly’ to ask for help. Similarly, men who subscribe to extremely traditional beliefs are also less likely to see professional mental help and tend to repress these emotions.
So healthy masculinity, the kind that Mohammed propagates in his videos, helps society as a whole: it gives men a different perspective on women’s issues and it also provides them with a broader perspective on masculine values. Everyone comes out a winner and society improves (at least by a little bit).