The buzz phrase ‘toxic masculinity’ has lost much of its original meaning over time. It has been misunderstood and overused to the point that any debate on the topic usually gets hijacked by angry incels and feminists, with any thoughtful, nuanced discussion buried amidst the fury.
Australian artist Luke Humphris, who describes himself as a “creator of autobiographical comics about my rubbish life,” has a deeply painful personal experience of the damage that toxic masculinity can cause, and has made a moving and eye-opening comic about it. Australia has, particularly in rural areas, a hyper-masculine culture that can discourage guys from opening up and speaking honestly with other about their issues and needs, although organizations like Men’s Shed are doing a great deal to change this. Luke now lives in Toronto, Canada, having chosen to do what many young Aussies do and go out to explore the world. “It’s not that I am escaping Australia, I just like the cold and big cities,” he explained to Bored Panda. “I am older and I do find that I am able to express myself without the same social restraints as when I was younger, but some stuff does linger and I try to be mindful of it. Most people probably find that as well as they get older. I still catch myself doing my part to put these negative expectations on friends and peers, so again, I try to be mindful about that as well.”
“It’s cool to see a lot of people sharing the comic, it makes me happy that people are referencing it as a learning tool, which was the point of it. There are people who disagree with it for a bunch of reasons, and that’s fine. Some say that it is sexist to call masculinity toxic. It’s like, come on dude, one of the points of the comic is that masculinity is not toxic, this comic is made for you!”
“The good feedback seriously outweighs the negative though.”
The comics are a cool hobby for this talented artist, who has a day job and uses them to express himself when he feels like it. But would he like to take it up as a profession? “It would be nice to get there one day, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on it,” he told us. “I can make whatever I want if I am not dependant on the money, and I like what I am making at the moment. It would be nice not to have to worry about rent though!”
Luke, through his comic, presents ‘toxic masculinity’ not as masculine traits being inherently harmful, nor as women trying to ‘feminize’ men out of existence, as the extremes in the debate often portray it. He sees it as the backward attitudes that limit the ways that so-called ‘real men’ can express themselves, stifling frank discussion about important issues while promoting an outwards show of silent ‘strength.’
Scroll down below to be reminded of the true, insidious nature of toxic masculinity, and let us know what you think in the comments.