Millennial Mind

Toxic masculinity: Time to tackle it on all fronts

Sexist norms are not uncommon in a hyper-masculine environment. Time to face up and address them in national service.

With so many young men living and training together in such close quarters during national service, there can be an unhealthy preoccupation with sex, macho-ness and ritualised humiliation, says the writer. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

When Ms Corinna Lim, executive director of the Association of Women for Action and Research, called for a review of national service to weed out toxic masculinity, I thought it was a fairly straightforward proposal and so was surprised by the subsequent backlash.

Her message bears some recapitulation since it was later widely misinterpreted. Briefly, she said many men she had spoken to described NS as a hyper-masculine experience, and that there are some practices, such as the use of homophobic slurs and the shaming of soldiers using sexualised language, which promote unhealthy norms that can be done away with.

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