Rhik Samadder, Guardian columnist, actor and author, is a man who feels very strongly about opening up discussions on masculinity, mental health and body image.
When was the first time you realised you didn’t fit in with today’s ‘male’ culture?
I went to an all boy’s school– and it wasn’t until they introduced girls that I realised there were people I could relate to far more easily. It dawned on me that male culture was needlessly competitive, insensitive and diminished by the constant threat of violence. I think I was 9.
What do you think toxic masculinity means and what are effects on equality of women?
It’s men who know they will never be held accountable running rampant, their aggression unchecked by respect for others. It’s behaviour that exploits the unaccountable, grey areas of the law and codes of behaviour. Most men let women carry the water when it comes to social progress. Toxic men try to tip the bucket.
Who do you think are doing a good job at being positive male role-models?
Gary Lineker, Eddie Izzard, Frank Ocean, Terry Crews. He has many detractors, but I think Russell Brand is an interestingly conscious person.
Why is it important to challenge traditional male cultures and behaviours?
Men have been in power too long. Selfishness, complacency and aggression are not synonymous with masculinity, as they are often presented. We need to nurture different aspects of the masculine. All cultures should be challenged, so we know which values are unnecessary and which to reaffirm.
Was there a moment in your life that changed the way you behave around women?
Not one moment, but many times in my twenties I observed how infrequently women could relax. They were always a target, always being stared at, which I was guilty of, or fending off approaches. Always polite, lest they provoke violence against themselves. And I realized how exhausting it looked, just to be themselves.
Rhik Samadder (actor and Guardian columnist) talks more about his thoughts on masculinity and mental health in his new memoir, I Never Said I Loved You published by Headline.