Filmmaker Byron Hurt gets real about toxic masculinity


Documentary filmmaker Byron Hurt spoke at he BMU about how toxic masculinity is deeply rooted within our society. Photo credit: Danielle Kessler

Documentary filmmaker and educator Byron Hurt spoke to the Chico State community on Thursday in the BMU about the dangers of toxic masculinity that persist in our society. He touched on the many issues women still face as a result of misogyny and toxic masculinity, even in an age of progression toward women’s rights.

Hurt conducted an activity where women discussed the things they do to protect themselves from sexual violence. Photo credit: Danielle Kessler

Hurt began his presentation by posing a question to the audience: What do the men in the room do to protect themselves? There was almost no response from any of the men.

When the question was offered to the other people in the room, however, the responses ranged from carrying pepper spray to making fake phone calls when walking alone.

Hurt then showed a clip from his documentary, “Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes” where he investigated the misogyny that exists within Hip-Hop culture, which is perpetuated against Black and Latinx women.

Of the clip, Hurt said, “We live in a culture and a society that blames women for their own victimization and absolves men of their behavior.”

Hurt asked another question later on in the presentation: “What does it mean to be a man?”

The audience responses showed how our society values men as being strong, detached and “masculine.” Men in the crowd added the things they’ve been told, like “be a man” and “grow a pair” that, as Hurt explained, can severely damage the way men think of themselves.

“These words are very powerful, and we’re raising our young boys to respond to these words,” Hurt said. “If we want to get to the root of violence in our culture, we have to get to the root of these words.”

“We have to disrupt the idea that being masculine means you have to be inside of that ‘man’ box.”

As a result of this, ‘box’ he described, Hurt discussed how these expectations of men can be harmful and can cause them to fall victim to depression, bullying, anxiety and even suicide.

Finally, Hurt discussed the importance of changing the culture we live in, that is responsible for the disrespect of women.

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Documentary filmmaker Byron Hurt spoke at he BMU about how toxic masculinity is deeply rooted within our society. Photo credit: Danielle Kessler

“You all could be very influential in changing the culture that girls like my daughter grow up in, and the boys that exist in our culture,” Hurt said. “We can reduce so many of the harms that are created based on this very limited idea of what it means to be manly in American society.”

He concluded his presentation by saying, “If I can become more healthy by challenging traditional ideas about masculinity, so can you…and you can create a safer world for the girls and the women around you.”

Danielle Kessler can be reached at [email protected] or @reserv0irpups on Twitter.