‘Toxic Masculinity’ is Misnamed
Men who rape women? Men who play contact sports? Men who watch contact sports? Yep, all of them are examples of “toxic masculinity.” One of the left’s latest rallying cries, the term gives liberals a new way to attack a favorite target: straight white men. Straight white Christian men even more. And especially conservative straight white Christian men who believe men differ from women and think that difference a great thing.
The terms implies that all men are toxic, of course. But those conservative men are the worst.
Not All Men
But it’s wrong. Not all men are toxic. Rapists, abusers, murderers, etc., are toxic. Children’s sports coaches, pastors and men who are caregivers are not. Gillette came out with a controversial ad last month condemning toxic masculinity. It featured men looking the other way as boys behaved badly. But what kind of men did it show? Not thugs and absentee fathers.
As author Barbara McKay pointed out, these were neatly dressed, middle-class men barbecuing. These are fathers “deeply invested in family life.” But the ad made it look like even the best of regular, good guys enable toxic behavior by their gender.
The reality is there are plenty of evil women too. Why not “toxic femininity” then? Because feminists know that it will tarnish all women. I asked a lefty friend of mine why no one uses the phrase, and he says because it means the same thing as misogyny. Well if that’s true, and toxic masculinity means misandry, then why is it OK to use it to describe men?
An article in The New York Times paints a broad brush defining toxic masculinity. It describes it as tough-guy behavior, suppressing emotions or masking distress and maintaining an appearance of hardness. It makes no pretense to even include serious crimes.
But you can’t paint a broad brush of all men engaging in these behaviors. Some men really enjoy getting physical; whether as a boxer, police officer or engaged in manual labor. And the latter two are necessary jobs, we need tough, strong men in those positions.
There are plenty of men who don’t feel comfortable talking about their feelings and that’s just the way they are. Just like there are many women who don’t feel comfortable talking about their feelings. The problem is the left likes to paint everyone with a broad brush and fit them into group stereotypes. Why not treat men and women as individuals?
What’s wrong with men maintaining an appearance of hardness? Maybe it’s necessary for some men if they work in a field such as the military, in order to maintain control. Look at the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. She represented the epitome of maintaining an appearance of hardness. Was it OK for her because she’s a woman?
Sexes Pitted Against Each Other
The effort to label men as toxic seems to be contrived, in order to pit the sexes against each other. It’s part of a larger strategy by the left to keep women within the Democratic fold. Since more men than women are conservative, they’re an easy target. Portray them as toxic and conservatism looks toxic by association. Democrats look like the party that cares about protecting poor innocent women from all those dangerous men.
It’s difficult to refute accusations of toxic masculinity, because the Democrats will just point to real criminals, such as mass shooters. No one wants to be seen appearing to defend mass shooters. The Democrats portray toxic masculinity as a slippery slope, with shooting people just a step away from tough-guy behavior. It’s hard to prove a negative — how can any man prove that he’s not going to become a serial murderer or rapist?
The sad result of this is it’s taken away energy from focusing on the real criminals. Instead, every man is looked at suspiciously and required to do things like obtain written consent from a woman on college campus before dating her. Men are walking on pins and needles around women, afraid their “toxic masculinity” will be attacked as sexual harassment and result in discipline. It’s gotten so bad men are afraid to hold doors open for women. Feminist site The Lily says it’s an outdated gesture and men should stop doing it.
How did we go from men doing something nice for women to something lumped in with rapists and murderers? It’s time to start calling out the phrase toxic masculinity for what it is — a dishonest way to delegitimize half the population.
Follow Rachel on Twitter at Rach_IC. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.