toxic masculinity

grace (19, melbourne au)

this happened last year I was sitting in the living room when my brother finally came out to clean the dishes of the meal i’d cooked for him. I heard him starting to unload the dishwasher, which i knew to be dirty, and told him to stop. He kept unloading, saying some of them looked fine, to which I walked over and said just because they were rinsed didn’t mean they were fine (some could’ve had contact with raw chicken etc). I also knew that he was just being lazy, wanting to make room so he could put the new dishes in, to which they wouldn’t clean properly (becasue they never do, especially when they’ve dried out for hours), so then I can get the pleasure of properly washing them the next time I cook. ‘What on earth has this got to with sexism’ you might be wondering. This can’t be a big deal, just another, ‘men don’t do chores’ whoop de doo. “Sit down or I’ll kill you.” He pointed his finger at me, his teeth were gritted and his eyes wide. They were wide with the same anger in which we argued every other time. Except this time he threatened to kill me. Except this time, I knew him to be capable of thinking it every time he looked at me that way and-in a moment of sheer horror, to do it. My dad, who’d be in the room, told him ‘he’d gone too far’. He said it seriously, not angrily. My brother started screaming about how I was patronizing him before he went to his room, slamming the door. I stood there shocked. Then something even worse happened. “You shouldn’t have nagged at him. Your mother always nagged.” My dad just placed the blame on me for my brother threatening to kill me. He then left. I stood there still. I didn’t want to cry. I didn’t want to think that these men- which was all they were to me in that moment, not family, had the power and right to be angry, to cause devastation and for me to fall victim to it. I didn’t want them to have power over me. But I cried nonetheless. And I kept crying, struggling for breath. I physically walked outside of that room, but everything in my mind was a struggle. The cold air hit me, it was raining, but nothing could be felt bodily, not even if my brother in that moment had barged out from his room and stabbed me. My sister ‘Laura’ was with our older sister ‘Jane’. I couldn’t reach out to her for comfort and solidarity. I felt so alone, with the words ‘you shouldn’t have’ ringing in my head as much as ‘i’ll kill you’. I ended up calling my mum, even though i knew she would be at work. I felt guilty for causing her such panic, but once I finished talking with her I assured her I would call my oldest sibling, ‘James’ who always knew how to make me laugh even when i was detemined to be upset. And he did make me laugh, I began to calm down as my Dad came out to talk to me. I didn’t want to talk to my dad though, i felt he had no right. No right to explain the situation to me, to tell me what i did, or what he did, as he so very much likes to do before apologising. He just had no right to do that after what he said. Mum called him. She justly told him how wrong he was to say what he did. To slander my mother in the process of slandering me, meanwhile all my brother got was ‘you’ve gone too far’ in an unemotive statement. He was more emotional about the woman he’d been separated for five years now, and my acting like her than my BROTHER THREATENING TO KILL ME. And you know what? A week later, my brother- not the nice one who made me laugh even when I was in the middle of a breakdown, the one who threatened to kill me poked his head into my room and with a grimacing smile, said ‘sorry about what happened.’ I just stared at him. He deserved nothing. He might as well have just texted me ‘btw sorry about threatening to kill you, no biggie right?’ And I’m still supposed to be okay with it today when I see him. As if I can’t think of him saying it. Of all the times he’s gotten angry, when’s he’s broken something, yelled, shoved me back in a rage. How am I not supposed to think of the women I see on TV, who were murdered by someone they knew, they trusted and loved. How am I not supposed to think about him threatening to kill me over fucking dishes, and fear that the next time he gets the slightest bit mad, not only may i be threatened, but I could be killed. And that I don’t just imagine it, i consider it a real possibility that my own brother might kill me in a rage.


Several things have happened at work in the past week. The first thing was when my male colleagues were discussing the WWE and wrestling. I joined in and proceeded to demonstrate that my knowledge of the topic was greater than any of theirs. One of them asked me if I was a man or a woman, as he couldn’t tell anymore after that. These are the same people who laugh in my face when I insist I am capable of lifting things at work. The second thing that happened is a male colleague openly objectifying women passing on the street. He blatantly gawks at them as they walk by, very conspicuously craning his neck to do so, after which he says “Niiiiice!” loudly and unashamedly. It’s so demeaning. Another male colleague suggested that this behaviour might get him beaten by a man accompanying one of these women, for looking at “their women”. Thirdly, the worst thing to happen was yet another male colleague discussing his 20 month old son. His son has become very aggressive lately and kicks violently when being changed and frequently lashes out at strangers for no reason. I understand this; children need to behave like this from time to time to test their boundaries and so that parents can show them right from wrong and establish these boundaries when they lash out. My colleague doesn’t establish boundaries or reprimand his son. He has told us all that he encourages his son’s aggressive behaviour and is delighted by it, as he thinks it means his son will be dominant when he’s older. Toxic masculinity is instilled at a frighteningly young age. This same colleague mimed head butting me and told me to “watch what [I] say” when I made a half hearted joke that his son would ride a pink bicycle when he’s old enough to have a bike.