I want to clarify the difference between “men” and “toxic masculinity” because people (mostly men) seem to be confused.
Men are human beings who can make decisions and act in ways they are able to choose based on their biology and experience.
Masculinity is a concept of an imaginary male ideal which people use to tell men how they should behave.
Healthy masculinity is when men are told that being a man means protecting people who are weaker than you or putting the needs of others ahead of your personal desires. It means contributing to society in a positive way. Healthy masculinity is teaching men to strive to be the best they can be professionally, academically and at home. Are these positive qualities of any human? Yes. Men are human and positive human qualities are also positive male qualities.
Toxic masculinity is the process of telling men that they are not allowed to display emotions or appear weak. It is failing to teach them to respect the autonomy of women. It is making jokes about men in prison being raped by other men. Toxic masculinity is saying that men are inherently evil and incapable of controlling their anger or lust.
Men can promote toxic masculinity. So can women. It is an equal opportunity disease and its victims are first men and then the women they love.
And yes, there is a toxic femininity as well. It is the idea that women have to be small, powerless and attach themselves to a man and produce babies in order to have meaning. It used to be a huge problem and still is, but not as much as it was because women stood up and took control of their narrative.
Men need to do the same.
4 thoughts on “Is Masculinity Toxic?”
I applaud you, you do a great job explaining the difference. This explanation is one that it lacking in the conversation space. Some of the biggest problems I see on this subject is a lot of blaming, lack of teaching, and everyone wants something to be done on the matter. One of the absolute biggest is those with the loudest voice feel men can;t contribute to the conversation and must listen silently. That doesn’t help in the progression away from the bad area and towards the better area.
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There certainly is a place for listening.
I believe I’ve been doing a lot of listening and feel I am close to having an understanding of the problem. Modern feminism has two conflicting desires. There is a desire for men as a whole to hold each other to a higher standard of behaviour on one hand, there is a separate and competing desire for women to be able to express the first desire without consideration for how it will be received by their intended audience.
I think that there is a way forward, and that is for men as a whole to stop waiting for women to give us the solution.
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Okay I think I can agree with that point of not waiting to be given the solution. I feel that if we follow that lane men will be and have been criticized because it doesn’t follow their entire grand plan. Modern feminism seems to follow two paths “cancel all men” or “women are better and lack the ability to make mistakes” at least the loudest voices seem to be echoing this to my ears. We need an better, inclusive, considerate, way forward and so far none of the women i communicated with have provided it. At best i get “just don;t talk to us, don;t breathe in our general direction”
A cultural difference between how men and women are taught to communicate leads to this problem in communication. Men are taught to exchange ideas in an adversarial way in over to compare their understanding of an issue. Women are taught to discuss ideas in terms of identity.
The result is that if a man enters a feminist dialogue seeking to present observations and ask questions, they will be perceived as taking a contrary position and will be viewed as coming into a feminist space just to argue. This creates an impression in men that feminism exists to minimise men.
It is worth taking the advice feminists give to watch feminists interact without directly engaging to observe the communication style. Most of the comments will be stories rather than statistics. Most of the reactions will be supportive rather than critical.