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Challenging toxic masculinity in schools and society

Kathleen Elliott (Educational Foundations, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Whitewater, Wisconsin, USA)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 12 March 2018




This paper aims to discuss the contours and consequences of simplified, toxic forms of masculinity in schools and society.


Using a lens influenced by a feminist cultural critique, the author situates concerns about gender, power and inequality in current events in the American culture.


The author argues that toxic masculinity supports and is supported by gendered patterns of power that perpetuate broad inequalities and that schools have an important role to play in challenging these inequalities.

Practical implications

The paper includes concrete steps that educators can take to interrupt and teach against toxic masculinity and to involve young men and boys in this work as allies.

Social implications

The author argues that these steps have powerful social implications given schools’ influence as socializing institutions.


In this way, the paper’s value lies in highlighting how, by including discussions of masculinity and involving men and boys, schools can build on previous successes in fighting gender inequality that were aimed at girls and young women to effect a broad cultural transformation and help create a more just and equitable society.



Elliott, K. (2018), "Challenging toxic masculinity in schools and society", On the Horizon, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp. 17-22.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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