Opinion: No boombox needed to combat toxic masculinity

Romantic comedies can teach men how to ditch their toxic masculinity

It's Friday night and your phone lights up with a text from Todd asking if you want to "kick it." He says he can't come pick you up because he's been out drinking with the boys. So instead, he insists you Uber. 

But that's not what happened in that Netflix movie you just watched. What happened to him picking you up with flowers in his hands, opening your car door and more importantly calling it a date?

In a world filled with misconceptions perpetuated by the love stories portrayed in romantic comedies, college students can often see their lives mirrored in these films. This creates unrealistic expectations that may not mirror reality. 

However, these representations of relationships aren't always harmful, and college men can learn from these movies to break their gender roles and show emotion. 

Toxic masculinity is not just a word used to describe male dominance, sexual aggression and emotionless behavior on a broad spectrum. Toxic masculinity has begun seeping into modern dating culture. 

Dates are a thing of the past and the dating world revolves around whether he texts back or leaves a Snapchat on read. Chivalry has been thrown out the window when going on a date in college. 

According to an article written for the Huffington Post, for Millenials and Gen Xers, "the best you’ll get is coffee, a casual drink or hanging out at someone’s house or apartment. If you want to be taken out to a nice dinner, take yourself." 

The secret behind the popularity of romantic comedies is that the men portrayed in these movies often break the stereotype of toxic masculinity by easily sharing their emotions.

A study done by the University of British Columbia showed that since the era of the social media-driven #MeToo movement, men are starting to break out of their toxic roles. The study reported that “Seventy-five percent of the men said that a man should have physical strength, compared with those who said a man should have intellectual strength (87 percent) or emotional strength (83 percent).”

This research connects to male roles in romantic comedies because men in these movies are often seen as having more emotional strength than physical strength.  

Romantic comedies don't make viewers expect Lloyd Dobler to show up outside their window with a boombox and have John Bender triumphantly raise his fist in the air after knowing he's won you over. 

Jason Scott, assistant director and professor at the ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre, said that romantic comedies in the 80s and 90s are not great examples on how men should act because they are shown from the male perspective and view the woman as the prize at the end. 

More recently, Scott said, romantic comedies are showing a more realistic way of how young adults, even with same-sex couples, should look at dating.

Scott said that additional perspectives, including female perspectives, shown in these romantic comedies can help, "teenagers and college students today realize it doesn't have to work out. It doesn't have to be idealized. It doesn't have to be the perfect person and the perfect moment." 

Put "To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before" in the Netflix queue, take notes and learn that modern relationships need to be centered around emotion. 


Reach the columnist at psaso@asu.edu and follow @paytonsaso on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the authors’ and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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