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Toxic Masculinity in Australia: Hannah Clarke's Case

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In recent news, Hannah Clarke and her three children were horrifically murdered by her estranged husband Rowan Baxter. Domestic violence and men brutally bashing each other causing death is seen far too often. Where boys will be boys should not be an excuse for violence, even murder. Toxic masculinity refers to harmful behaviour and attitudes commonly associated with some men. This negative influence of toxic masculinity increases the level of violence among young Australians within society. Now, in the wake of recent movements supported by celebrities and families of victims who have strength to create an awareness of toxic masculinity and help others who have been affected by it, the idea of toxic masculinity has started to gain more currency in wider society (Ketchel, 2019). In addition, the essay will focus on the correlation between toxic masculinity and violence and show why this act of male superiority is noticeably prominent in Australia. It will also analyse current strategies that challenge the social issue and portray effective ideas for change.

Masculinity is the common stereotypical attribute associated with men and is the way to becoming manly, such as the need to repress emotions, and to act in an aggressively dominant way (Barr, 2019). This negative influence of toxic masculinity also increases the level of violence within society, such as creating fights and encouraging domestic violence. Male violence and acts of aggression have occurred for years and were often the ways that power was understood. In contemporary more moderate societies, this has become somewhat tempered, yet it still exists in different forms and has now been given the name toxic masculinity. It is considered the misuse of power and positions by men to suppress traditionally socially marginalised groups or the powerless in society. This idea has since been extended to include other behaviours, such as aggressive competitiveness and intolerance of others (Ketchel, 2019). The tragic, horrific murder of Hannah Clarke and her three children stunned all of Australia, as they were killed in the most inhumane way possible and were murdered by the one that should have loved them. Unfortunanlty these murders and family violence cases are not unheard of in Australia as men creating or causing domestic violence continues to rise, with one Australian women murdered each week as a result of domestic violence and toxic masculinity (Blatchford, 2020). In a recent, a Current Affairs interview, cousin of Rowan Baxter, the man who was responsible for the death of Hannah Clarke and her three children, stated that Rowan grew up with a father who was an alcoholic who constantly abused his wife and did not think highly of women. This just demonstrates that male superiority is past down from generations as teenagers grow up, seeing their male role models treat women in this way thinking it is normal. Ultimately, leading to the recent murders. Toxic masculinity not only causes harm to women but also other men. Recently, a jury found Hugh Garth guilty of unlawful assault causing death. In 2017, Raynor Manalad, sustained extensive bleeding on the brain after a one punch attack which caused his death. Fuelled by alcohol, these acts of aggressive behaviour are far too common in Australia and shows dominance to the vulnerable by knocking someone down (Daniel, 2017). These days, the misuse of power by men causing injuries and death, is an ongoing, increasingly alarming issue due to the negative influence of toxic masculinity increasing the level of violence within society.

Toxic masculinity has a significant impact in Australia and has led to such violent acts which have permanently impacted the lives of many Australians. Men and young teens abusing their power in society is noticeable and prominent in Australia due to the certain culture revolving around young teens. Australia has a heavy drinking culture with 78.8% of Australians aged 18 years and over had consumed alcohol in the past year and an additional 8.5% had consumed alcohol 12 or more months ago. Moreover, men had consumed alcohol in the past year (84.5%) than women (73.3%) (Australian Burea of Statistics, 2018). Alcohol generally causes aggressions and is seen in local bars with young teenagers viewing and learning from what is being demonstrated in front of them. Also, certain betting commercials show men drinking and betting bars promoting that men should be drinking in bars. In Australia, sports such as the AFL and NRL are common sports for young Australians to watch and participate in. About 6.5 million Australians watch NRL (Sportytell, 2020). Nevertheless, in these sports, players don’t often show sportsmanship and start violent brawls to show dominance, rather than speaking about the problem. For young rugby players, this establishes that being a manly NRL player means that you have to create fights to be tough. Overall, young Australians are being exposed by Australia’s negative culture of being a man and is influencing young teens to be become more aggressive and violent.

As the growing issue of toxic masculinity continues to rise in Australia, many campaigns are put in place to reduce the ongoing violence caused by men due to these negative influences. World champion boxer and one-punch campaign advocate Danny Green is tacking charge in the fight to prevent one-punch attacks. He aims to give people, particularly young people, strategies to avoid violent situations and reiterate the community’s distaste for the violence. He said ‘That negative connotation I think would go a long way and be a very powerful, impacting tactic to simply stop blokes doing it, just for that reason. That’s a very powerful message, a powerful tactic that doesn’t cost a cent that would have wide ranging exposure and impact.’ (Henry, 2016). Meaning that the negative influences of toxic masculinity, for example hitting someone in the head making you tough, increases the level of violence within society. Advocates such as Danny Green help society and reduce the amount of violent cases as a result of harmful impacts of toxic masculinity.

Violence caused by toxic masculinity must be stopped. Right now, current strategies are in place to challenge the social issue such as advertisements, short films and campaigns. Although, additional, effective ideas can be looked into. Advertisements are seen everywhere. Whether it’s on TV, online and even on streets. Gillette had made a new advertisement for their products of razors. At the same time, the advertisement tried tacked the issue of toxic masculinity by showing men doing what men are stereotypically known to do. Though, this did not go well as majority of the viewers who watched it said that it was more an attack on men and not toxic masculinity, as the message was men should stop being men (Ketchel, 2019). To continue, Pixar short “Purl” was largely more successful in capturing and creating awareness on toxic masculinity. The film focuses on a pink ball of yarn named Purl, does not show the typical signs of being a man. Furthermore, Purl starts work for a new company with men all in suits who do not accept Purl. When other balls of yarn join the company, the other manly workers realise that it is better to include everyone as their differences make life interesting. This short film is a perfect example of ways to tackle toxic masculinity (Ketchel, 2019). Although there are current ideas and strategies reducing toxic masculinity, more can still be done. As male superiority starts from a young age, parents should talk to their children about violence are represented in movies, games and other media to say it’s not okay to do this in real life. Furthermore, schools or youth services should provide toxic masculinity education services to those young Australians who show signs of aggressive, violent behaviours due to the negative influences of toxic masculinity. With the implementations of these strategies, toxic masculinity can be significantly be reduced.

Toxic masculinity is only noticed when it is too late and the consequence of countless murders increase, as the recent deaths of Hannah Clarke and her three children were not prevented and instead became the reminder that the negative influences of toxic masculinity increases the level of violence within society. Society can change the way men think about violence and what being a man really is. Violence, assault and bullying is not the way or the answer to becoming a man, the real questions men must ask themselves is “What kind of a person do I want to be?” “What kind of a friend do I want to be?” and certainly, “What kind of a leader do I want to be?”


  1. Australian Burea of Statistics. (2018, December 12). ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION. Retrieved from Australian Burea of Statistics:[email protected]/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.001~2017-18~Main%20Features~Alcohol%20consumption~100
  2. Barr, S. (2019, January 17). WHAT IS TOXIC MASCULINITY AND HOW CAN IT BE ADDRESSED? Retrieved from Independent:
  3. Blatchford, A. (2020, February 21). Rowan Baxter murdered his family and it is the act of a man and his domestic violence not a senseless monster. Retrieved from ABC News:
  4. Daniel, N. D. (2017, December 2017). One-punch killer Hugh Garth jailed for 10 years over death of Ray Manalad at Rooty Hill party. Retrieved from ABC News:
  5. Henry, L. (2016, April 22). Danny Green fights for coward’s punch education. Retrieved from ABC News:
  6. Ketchel, M. (2019, February 8). The real problem with toxic masculinity is that it assumes there is only one way of being a man. Retrieved from The Conversation:
  7. Sportytell. (2020, February 5). Top-10 Most Popular Sports In Australia 2020. Retrieved from Sportytell:      

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