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Denver woman breaks down toxic masculinity

The term has gotten a lot of buzz recently, but one Denver woman has been trying to explain it for years.

DENVER — Toxic masculinity. The term has gotten a lot of buzz after a Gillette commercial went viral last month. But one Denver woman has been trying to explain it for years.

“It’s about the ways in which our expectation for men and boys harm both them and other folks who are impacted by sexism, like women and non-gender conforming folks,” Regan Byrd said. “Those expectations that are placed on men and boys on their behavior in terms of, for instance, being violent, being sexual, being dominant over other people.”

Byrd is a consultant that runs anti-oppression trainings, including one on dismantling toxic masculinity. They focus on the way we teach boys to be men.

“I really think this is a conversation that is affirming, positive and is about how men get equal access to being a holistic, well-rounded person in the same way we strive hard for women to be able to,” Byrd said. “Men are, to me, at the center of this conversation.”

Men, like Doug Nelson.

"Toxic masculinity is denial of real masculinity in the fact that it treats men and controls men in how they look at either people of the opposite sex, or other men," he said.

Nelson is a Pastor of Earth and Social Justice at the Refuge Church in Broomfield.

"I have to recognize my own ability to be toxic and my own relationships,” Nelson said.

He’s attended the "dismantling toxic masculinity" training four times, bringing a new woman leader from his church each time. He said he hopes they can take away the same insight he did.

"Men will self-regulate men but also that leaves them in a position where their appearance, their attitude towards women becomes objectifying, and I think there is no better word than toxic," he said. 

But Nelson said he knows people often get hung up on the term - toxic masculinity. 

"I've heard the backlash," he said.  

Still, Nelson said this is something men need to talk about.

"We really need to sit down and think about who we are, how we behave, how we behave to our wives, our sisters, anyone in society," he said. "It's not my voice that needs to be heard. It's time for us men to listen and listen humbly."

It's a viewpoint Byrd echoes.

“These conversations are in the spirit of what is hurting us - what is not helpful to us and how do we work together to change that?” she said. “There’s a lot of good that can come out of this and I hope folks are open to that.”

Watch the full interview with Regan Byrd below.

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