Toxic Masculinity Defined By Netflix’s ‘Astronomy Club: The Sketch Show.’

* Spoiler Alert for Astronomy Club: The Sketch Show on Netflix

Netflix Astronomy Club

Toxic Masculinity is becoming prevalent more and more each day. Since in the beginning when heaven and earth were created, we’ve been accustomed to being labeled and having some control over us. From our names to our gender. How we dress and how we think. Even being born without our consent. Ridiculous right? Everything has been foreordained and we must go through the motions. At what point do we live for ourselves? Especially speaking as a black woman. I can say, I am tired. Day to day living to please the expectations of our families, society, and whatever other being feels that it has some entitlement…men. According to an article in The Times, toxic-masculinity derives from teaching boys to repress emotions and “be tough” all the time.

While causally watching Astronomy Club on Netflix, I witnessed the most comically cringing depiction of how it is to be a black woman living in a “mans world.” Specifically, episode four at the nine minutes and fifty-eight seconds mark, a game show parody called “What You Shoulda”.  To begin, three male contestants give a brief introduction and then the moderator (Monique) goes on to explain the rules. Each male contestant will pick from a category prompting a woman to come out and express a real-life story in which the man will buzz in to tell her what she should’ve done differently. Leo (1 of the 3 contestants) cuts off Monique mid instructions because he felt it was necessary to voice that she should’ve “explained the rules before introducing the contestants.”  After, being ignorantly interrupted Monique tells them the way to win the prize -100 million dollars- is to not buzz in because you DON’T ever tell a woman what she should’ve done.  In the duration of eighty-one seconds, there is already a reek of toxic masculinity in the air.

Relation to Rape Culture

The first woman’s story illustrates the infamous guy with his group of friend’s cat calling as she strolls past. Succeeding, she discloses an incident when a man gets physically aggressive at her apartment following a date in which initially went well. Once again before she completes both stories, the men begin annoyingly ringing the buzzer giving nonsensical suggestions that would have intensified the situation, like being violent or “just” flirting back.  Sexual abuse is delicate subject specifically when every day there’s a new missing person – nine times out of ten it’s a woman- posted on social media. While sexual harassment is common with men, it is more extensive for women. We hate to see it, but men are more commonly the perpetrators. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource, one in five women and one in seventy-one men will be raped at some point in their lives. Women and young girls are especially vulnerable, making up seventy percent of detected sex trafficking victims worldwide. However, there’s one prototypical argument that needs to be addressed: that women who are violated are somehow to blame, because of their “provocative” attire. Under no situation, is it acceptable to harass and humiliate another group of people based on their choice of outfit -or lack thereof. And if the social condition is a major part of determining whether sexual acts are admissible, perchance the fault lies with whoever applauds scenarios where women can be battered with exemption, regardless of where you are or who you’re with. Putting fault on the victims, typically the weakest and least powerful in any synopsis, is a pessimistically common human tendency, as it abstains from disentangling the bigger controversy. Those who do it just “can’t seem to help themselves.” No wonder they try to defend others who seem guilty of the same because ultimately it is the culprit that lacks self-control. 

Masculinity in the Workplace

Furthermore, the second woman reports after glancing over some files at work she noticed she made less than her fellow male counterparts. Once again, yup you guessed it! She was interrupted before completing the story just to hear more absurd answers on “what she should’ve done.” One of the contestants suggested she should’ve waited until they were in the men’s room peeing next to each other. The men’s room? Really?  Everyone please stop telling women the key to success is acting more like a man. It’s not effective because women are steadily penalized in the workplace for the same conduct that men are praised for, up to and including the birth of a child. Besides, if men are doing everything so well, why do women’s startup companies generate more revenue and do it with less funding? Why do companies with at least one woman board member yielded higher return on equity and higher net income growth than those that did not have any women on the board? Ultimately, women earn the majority of bachelor’s degrees, Master’s degrees, and Ph.D.’s. So, who’s really winning?

What is the Solution to Toxic Masculinity?

End toxic masculinity

After four minutes and fifteen seconds wasted, three times Monique bluntly stated how to win the game, and two years of the show being on air there has NEVER been a winner. But we already knew that from the moment the sketch began. Conclusively, stop wasting time trying to convince and change men that evidently display apathy and insensitivity. Majority of men have the tendency not only to be bold but dismissive. And if that’s the case, please protect your mental health, let it –him– go.  After spending all that time telling women “what they shoulda done” these men ultimately lose. Here’s a tip; learn to communicate clearly, be able to empathize, and look beyond “playing the game” and give actual solutions to the problem’s humanity is suffering from. Women spend their entire existence — literally from the time the cord is cut — being taught to regulate our own and others’ emotions, to care for the people around us, to keep the peace and quiet.

It’s complete patriarchy. It’s draining. Rarely compensated. And it’s vital.

SN: Ladies we are not exempt either but that’s a topic for another time..

– Rae


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