Facts Masculinity norms on the internet

Guys who do not fit into norms of masculinity are often met with opposition and in many cases be subjected to discrimination or harassment.

Masculinity norms are about how guys are expected to be, the idea that you should be strong, not show feelings, be brave, heterosexual, watch porn, and always want to have sex. It is often about distancing yourself from things that you should not be — a softie, gay, crying to a movie, or being feminine.  

If you are a guy who breaks any of these norms, you can often meet opposition, and in many cases, be subjected to discrimination or harassment. 

People who do not identify as men are also affected

Destructive masculinity norms not only affect guys who do not follow these norms, but also other people. People who identify as girls, homosexual, nonbinary, transpeople and people with other ethnicities than Swedish are often excluded because of their identities. From a masculinity perspective, they are seen as deviants. They are at risk of being excluded from male communities, environments, and forums. 

Examples of destructive masculinity norms on the internet 

When someone goes against the heterosexual masculinity norm, society has a tendency to judge or objectify the person more harshly. 

  • For example, the men’s national team player with an immigrant background who fails at a tackle gets his entire Instagram filled with threats, hate, and racism about how he “is not Swedish” and should “go home.”
  • Another example is the girl who uploads a picture and gets sexist comments about her appearance or gets dick pics sent to her. 
  • It can also be when you are called gay or feminazi when you question the sexism that exists in the video game that you love to play with friends online.

There is also a large and widespread fixation on exercise and bodies on platforms like Instagram that are related to how guys should look and act. More and more boys are suffering from eating disorders or self-harm.

Advice Counteract fixation on exercise and the body

Do not objectify people. Don't comment on other people's bodies, appearances, or expressions.

Destructive subcultures can form as a result of destructive masculinity norms

A clear example of what destructive masculinity norms can lead to is the phenomenon: Incels (involuntary celibates) which is a growing subculture online. The group is most made up of white, heterosexual boys and men who are sad, alone, and upset about the lack of love and sexual relationships with women. 

In their frustration, they often target their hate, threats, and discrimination toward mostly women (who do not want to have relationships with them) and immigrants (who are stealing “their” women), but even other men that have what they are missing—relationships with women. Incels are a clear example of how destructive or toxic masculinity and cyber hate are connected.

Advice Stop destructive masculinity norms

If someone expresses themselves in a racist, homophobic, sexist or offensive way, tell them off – even if they are your friend. You can question them by saying: what do you mean by that?