Benedict Cumberbatch says toxic masculinity must end: 'Men need to shut up and listen'

·3 min read

Watch: Benedict Cumberbatch on new film Power Of The Dog, toxic masculinity, and championing women

Benedict Cumberbatch has called for the end of toxic masculinity, claiming "we need to fix the behaviour of men".

The Sherlock star made the comments while promoting his latest film, Power of the Dog, in which toxic masculinity is a theme. 

The term is used to describe the gendered stereotypes placed on men by society that can prevent some men from expressing their emotions in a healthy way. 

In a new interview with Sky News, the actor, 45, explained why in the post #MeToo era it was time the topic was tackled. 

"We need to fix the behaviour of men," he said. "You have to kind of lift the lid on the engine a little bit.

"I think it's ever relevant, and in a world that's questioning and ripping into and finally pointing out the inadequacies of the status quo and the patriarchy, it's even more important".

Read more: How to call out a friend posting sexist views online

Benedict Cumberbatch has opened up about the subject of toxic masculinity, pictured in November 2021. (Getty Images)
Benedict Cumberbatch has opened up about the subject of toxic masculinity, pictured in November 2021. (Getty Images)

He went on to add: "You get this sort of rebellion aspect, this denial, this sort of childish defensive position of 'not all men are bad'. 

"No, we just have to shut up and listen.

“We’re living through an era now where survivors can speak and are having a platform to realise that there is not enough recognition of abuse, there’s not enough recognition of disadvantages.”

The actor also suggested that: “maybe not now, but somewhere along the line, we need to do what the film does as well, which is examine the reason behind the oppressive behaviour to fix the men”.

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Actor Meryl Streep has previously expressed opposition to the term toxic masculinity, explaining she believes use of the expression can be harmful for boys.

Taking part in a Q&A for the second season of Big Little Lies, the Oscar winner explained that she dislikes the term because, in her opinion, all individuals can exhibit toxic behaviour, regardless of gender.

“Sometimes I think we’re hurt. We hurt our boys by calling something toxic masculinity. I do,” Streep said, as reported by InStyle.

“And I don’t find [that] putting those two words together... because women can be pretty f***ing toxic.”

“It’s toxic people,” she added. “We have our good angles and we have our bad ones.”

Streep added that she thinks labels can be “less helpful” than direct communication when calling out detrimental behaviour.

“We’re all on the boat together. We’ve got to make it work,” she said.

Read more: 9 Gillette divided viewers on social media for an advert tackling the subject of toxic masculinity.

Benedict Cumberbatch has called for an end to toxic masculinity, pictured in November 2021. (Getty Images)
Benedict Cumberbatch has called for an end to toxic masculinity, pictured in November 2021. (Getty Images)

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Back in 2019 Gillette divided viewers on social media for an advert tackling the subject of toxic masculinity. 

The short film, circulated on YouTube, asked: “Is this the best a man can get?” – a play on the brand’s 30-year-old tagline, “The best a man can be”.

It featured male characters in a variety of scenarios including harassing women – at work and in the street – fighting and playground bullying.

While some criticised the advert for seemingly including all men, others believed the video had an overall positive message, and suggested men should be more open to self-criticism rather than reacting strongly.

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