MTV News senior national correspondent Jamil Smith breaks down the way toxic masculinity, a term that describes the damage stereotypical masculine ideals can have on both men and women, feeds rape culture, thus creating a society where sexism and sexual assault can thrive.
"Let's be clear: Masculinity is not inherently a bad thing," Smith says in a video that's part of his YouTube series "The Racket." "What's bad is when society tells us that being a man means things like strength and power at the expense of being allowed to feel things."
Smith says that film, television and the media as a whole typically paint one way to be a man, with characters like Don Draper, James Bond, Batman and Iron Man serving as models for masculinity:
These displays of masculinity contribute to a society that punishes men who deviate from this ideal. Showing emotion or having feelings at all — you know, human stuff — is often considered feminine.
Toxic masculinity, Smith says, gives men a sense of entitlement that makes them think women exist to serve men in one way or another. "We're so caught up in these toxic ideas that a woman granting her affirmative consent to sex... often becomes secondary to our needs," he says.
If men can accept their complicity in rape culture, the next step is figuring out what to do about it. Smith says combatting toxic masculinity requires holding friends accountable and intervening if they're about to harm someone, listening to and believing rape survivors, supporting legislation combatting sexual assault and practicing affirmative consent.
"When one person's mental state is impaired because they're drunk or high, there is no consent," Smith says in the video.
Watch the full segment here: