Toxic Masculinity and Me

A Creative, who would like to remain anonymous, shares their experience of working with a Creative Director who embodied the very definition of toxic masculinity.


You work as a creative in an ad agency, do you enjoy your job?

I love it - I love the creative process and the the fast-paced nature of it all. For me it’s a real thrill and I’d say I enjoy all aspects of the job.

Except for recently? You were working with a creative director who sounds like he fits the very definition of toxic masculinity; can you describe what working with him was like?

He was new to the agency, but decided to “reinterview” me for my own job. He would constantly put my work down and pin creatives against one another. He did not see projects as collaborative. He also refused to see us as people on the same team, let alone playing field. He was so vocal and so aggressive, he forced himself onto all my projects.

Eventually he kicked core team members off projects just so he could claim them for his own. He would openly criticise me in front of my colleagues, and one time - when I wasn’t in the room - made fun of my sexuality. 

That sounds awful. How did you deal with it? 

I tried to distance myself from him, but it was hard to do. I just wanted away from him. 

For me, going to the gym is my biggest form of catharsis. I feel that it is very important for people to understand the strengths in their own bodies. To me nothing feels more therapeutic than turning my brain off and pushing things with my body, especially working in such a creative field where my mind is constantly coming up with ideas. I also find it a great space to work through trauma and find that I am able to successfully channel anxiety or negative emotions into positivity through exercise. 

He knew this, and purposefully would schedule meetings that would make me working out impossible. I ended up changing my entire routine for his daily meetings, which were always after work hours and often had no other purpose but to make me suffer and for him to establish a sense of dominance over me.

What would you say the experience of working with this person had on your mental health?

I ended up becoming really depressed, my energy levels wanned, and my creative output was worse as a result. This became my biggest stress, but when I complained about it noone cared. But I don't think I really realised the impact it was having on my mental health until after he was fired. I had became so accustomed to his attitude and general domineering tone, that I became disillusioned by it. I hated coming into work everyday, because I knew I was going to be assaulted verbally, fear for my job, and I just generally loathed him as a person... but I didn't realise how much it truly impacted me until he was gone. 

He was fired and, the day after he left, there was a completely different spirit in the agency. We finally felt like a team again, and my general happiness was so much higher. 

Has the experience of working with him had any lasting impact on you? 

It has made me more vigilant about that type of behaviour, and more importantly: my subconscious ability to normalise it. 

You chose to write this anonymously - thank you for sharing. I hope the individual in question can now take some time to reassess their behavior and not act in the same way in another workplace!