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On Toxic Masculinity

Unless you happen to live in a cave, you’ve probably noticed that masculinity has undergone quite a thorough examination. Actually, examination is an understatement; demolition appears to be a more fitting description. Masculinity, in some quarters, is labeled a dirty word, with some labeling it “toxic.” With the abuses revealed by the #MeToo movement and the misogynistic rhetoric of Donald Trump, the desire to use such a visceral adjective is somewhat understandable, but is it warranted?

From New York to New Delhi, significant debates are taking place. Many of these debates revolve around one question: what, in both an ethical and moral sense, does it mean to be a man? This question, among many others, wrestles with the concept of “toxic masculinity.”

You’ve likely read a lot about toxic masculinity, an all too disingenuous term used to highlight men’s dominant position in society, largely achieved through the subordination of women. Critics of masculinity claim that such noxiousness helps sustain and solidify men’s dominant position in a patriarchal hierarchy. More recently, the phrase has been adopted and broadcast by fourth wave feminists and supporters like The Good Men Project. Interestingly, the latter defines toxic masculinity as a “narrow and repressive description of manhood, designating manhood as defined by violence, sex, status, and aggression.”

As a professor of psychology (and a man), I find the term “toxic masculinity” both offensive and misleading. Firstly, the term is depreciative—a pejorative against men. It implies that even the smallest amount of masculinity is lethal, poisonous; thus, by using the term, it invariably suggests that all men are toxic. Secondly, it’s a sound bite, not a theory. “Toxic masculinity” may be a catchy, throwaway remark, but it is not supported by scientific studies. The idea of toxic masculinity unfairly characterizes all men as products picked from the same assembly line. Is the world full of horrible men? Of course it is. As a collective group, men cause a lot of damage, both mentally and physically. However, different, more appropriate ways of calling out these monsters do exist.

Those of us who make snap-judgments about the toxicity of masculinity fail to identify the intricacies involved. Myopic in the extreme, the use of the phrase oozes ignorance and simplicity. After all, some of the behaviors associated with toxic masculinity—willingness to take risks and willingness to use violence, to name just two—are eulogized in some settings (such as in war). So, you ask, what language should we use when we’re calling out men who exhibit behaviors that are, for a lack of a better word, toxic?

Maybe it’s best if we stick to facts rather than using umbrella-like terminology. What’s more, maybe it is safer and smarter to refrain from using gendered language when critiquing. Although the condemnation of misogyny and sexual harassment is clearly warranted, to say that these are obvious characteristics of toxic masculinity is dangerous. Such generalizations are not acceptable when it comes to issues of race, religion, or sexuality. It is unjust, both in a sociological and moral sense, to chastise the whole by the actions of a few. An Asian man who commits a crime is not exhibiting “toxic Asianness”; a white man who spills coffee on a black man is not exhibiting “toxic whiteness.” They are human beings, individuals with distinct identities and complex lives, not necessarily representative of the whole. Not only does the term “toxic masculinity” falsely incriminate all men, such rhetoric helps foster a seditious war on the entire concept of masculinity.

John Stoltenberg

John Stoltenberg, the radical feminist activist, author, and magazine editor, believes that if we hope to live morally sound and meaningful lives, we need to do one “simple” thing—renounce manhood forever. The Californian scholar famously (or infamously) paralleled the idea of “healthy masculinity” with the idea of “healthy cancer,” a rather peculiar oxymoron. Stoltenberg, like millions of others around the world, sees manhood and masculinity as concepts fostered by a history of oppression. However, although there is some merit to his conjecture, masculinity is multifaceted, with multiple cultural constructions. To label all male qualities or attributes “toxic” is not just puerile, it’s patently false. Progressives have, for years, fought to establish a constructivist view of sex and gender, one established and perpetuated by a male dominated culture, but culture alone cannot provide a complete depiction of humanity; we must also recognize both evolutionary and biological factors.

There is a reason why biological and evolutionary studies are so well-respected—both offer insights that can shed light on aspects of masculinity that are not explained by social psychology or gender studies. Obviously, we know that certain physiological characteristics are more often associated with males than with females, namely hefty brow ridges, bigger jaw, inherently deeper voice, broader shoulders, and bodily and facial appearance best described as hirsute. A quick Google search will provide you with a host of popular narratives discussing the evolution of masculinity, especially how men have become more competitive and aggressive. This, many argue, is the reason why our species’ is now undergoing an existential crisis of sorts. However, fossil analyses make one thing abundantly clear: recent human evolution was made possible by an overall reduction in physical masculinity, think lower brow ridges, smaller jaws, less hairiness, as well as lower testosterone levels. Our ancestors were significantly more masculine and physically vigorous than modern day males. This scientific fact dismisses prevalent, all too popular notions that man survived because he excelled at killing wooly mammoths and clubbing females over the head.

Modern human societies and civilizations are complex systems. It’s possible that the aforementioned declines in masculinity were a prerequisite of sorts, allowing societies to emerge and flourish. Unsurprisingly, as average levels of masculinity weakened, the human race became relatively less antagonistic and more amiable. Increased sociability helped nurture cordial relations between individuals, resulting in greater levels of social complexity and collaboration. Consequently, this stimulated the development of language, the imparting and sharing of knowledge, as well as scientific advancements.

Although the pre-historic motivators of this decline are fiercely debated, human evolution was made possible by an overall decline in average masculinity and an increase in civility. Decreasing levels of masculinity have equipped us to traverse an intricate and collaborative sociocultural terrain.

Nevertheless, evolution is a game—albeit a cruel, “Hunger Games”-type contest.

The Darwinian nature of survival centers around two essential goals, natural selection (surviving) and sexual selection (mating). Basic science tells us that, for sexually reproducing species, including humans, evolution has endowed males and females with universal mating partialities. From both an evolutionary and biological perspective, the so called “toxic masculinity” traits appear to serve beneficial, dynamic purposes. For example, female calling crabs favor males with excessively large claws; while hens favor roosters with larger tails. Furthermore, displays of aggression also serve a purpose. Male sheep and goats engage in head butting contests, the equivalent of two humans squaring up and trading blows. When it comes to mating, female goats, known as nanny goats, favor bucks (male goats) that emerge victorious. The reward for targeted aggression is sex. Are goats displaying toxic masculinity? Are hens capitulating to archaic concepts of masculinity perpetuated by the rooster patriarchy?

In humans, evolutionary psychologists have identified universal patterns of mating preferences. Studies show that women prefer men displaying more masculine facial features, such as large jaws and prominent cheekbones. These men are perceived to be more dominant, and dominance is associated with genetic potency. High levels of testosterone signals status, but it also signals power and virility. Research shows that male teens with dominant facial features, such as square jaws and high cheek bones, report more sexual liaisons at an earlier age than less dominant looking peers. Interestingly, men with baby-like faces are considered kinder, more honest, and more open—but also more naive and less physically capable. As you can see, from an evolutionary perspective, the concept of “toxic masculinity” doesn’t carry much weight. Women appear to be hardwired to favor men who favor risk, are socially officious, and who display patterns of behaviors that allow them to climb the social hierarchy ladder.

Of course, the ideal man, if such a thing even exists, must be more than a glorified, chest-thumping ape. He must be rugged yet sensitive; macho yet considerate; forceful in some pursuits and peaceful in others. Just think of the male archetype in every romance novel ever written, a literary form almost exclusively marketed to and consumed by women. A strapping prince who loves his mother, he is a bold risk-taker who also happens to write poetry. By day, he defeats bad guys, overpowering them with his bulging biceps; in the evening, after doing 1000 pushups, he dons his apron and cooks up a mean lasagna.

And what about Hollywood? Take the movie “Fight Club,” for example; there is a reason why Tyler Durden, played by the inimitable Brad Pitt, is so universally loved. Men want to be him, women want to seduce him. Durden’s archetype ignites desire in women and jealousy in men.

To conclude, men are inundated with missives highlighting the negatives of masculinity. 2018 has been a year where men have started to engage in a sort of self-castration, distancing themselves from many behaviors that have served an evolutionary purpose. Buddhism and Taoism, two of the world’s oldest and most respected traditions, teach us that the world manifests itself in schisms—think yin/yang, masculine/feminine. C. J. Jung, a scholar of both traditions, contested that humans contain both a masculine and feminine side (what he called the anima and animus). It is only by deliberately and purposefully developing both of these, he thought, that we become fully conscious, fully aware, fully human. This concept is not to be confused with gender neutrality; instead of seeing gender as some sort of spectrum, Jung argued, we should view it as two spectrums. There is an inner masculine and feminine in each of us, both necessary for a state of equilibrium, and true meaning comes from incorporating both of these elements in ourselves.

 

John Glynn is a psychologist from Ireland, currently residing in Bangkok, John is passionate about two things in life – Guinness and writing. Follow him on Twitter @Irishdawg1916

120 Comments

  1. abondarenko01 says

    I enjoyed this article overall, but I feel like there’s a small, yet significant point that needs to be clarified.

    I can’t help but feel that complaints against the label of “toxic masculinity” is a point of pedantry and only communicates a totally negative image of masculinity insofar as it is used and appropriated by those who don’t understand what it means.

    Glynn writes:

    “As a professor of psychology (and a man), I find the term “toxic masculinity” both offensive and misleading. Firstly, the term is depreciative—a pejorative against men. It implies that even the smallest amount of masculinity is lethal, poisonous; thus, by using the term, it invariably suggests that all men are toxic. Secondly, it’s a sound bite, not a theory. “Toxic masculinity” may be a catchy, throwaway remark, but it is not supported by scientific studies. The idea of toxic masculinity unfairly characterizes all men as products picked from the same assembly line. Is the world full of horrible men? Of course it is. As a collective group, men cause a lot of damage, both mentally and physically. However, different, more appropriate ways of calling out these monsters do exist.”

    The issue is that even in the the article from The Good Men Project (GMP), that Glynn refers to, clarifies what “Toxic masculinity” means such that they are conceptually operating on the same page, though they may differ in execution (and this is key).

    For instance, the GMP article says even at the beginning:

    “No, it isn’t just a way of saying men are bad.”

    And their definition of toxic masculinity includes:

    “When it derives from a rejection of the perceived opposite, femininity, that is so pervasive as to become unhealthy for both men and those around them.”

    Glynn says much the same when he references Jung later:

    ” According to the Austrian, it is only by deliberately and purposefully developing both of these that we become fully conscious, fully aware, fully human. This concept is not to be confused with gender neutrality; instead of seeing gender as some sort of spectrum, Jung argued, we should view it as two spectrums. There is an inner masculine and feminine in each of us, both necessary for a state of equilibrium, and true meaning comes from incorporating both of these elements in ourselves.”

    Not only this but the GMP article even admits that:

    “It may well be the case that men are somewhat more biologically prone to violence and aggression, but we exaggerate this with a culture that shames men for even the slightest emotional display.”

    which Glynn also admits.

    It seems to me that, in a lot of ways, they are both compatible.

    To put it simply, when Toxic Masculinity is understood as the concept that it is, it does not refer to the fact that all masculinity is toxic, just that it can be toxic and has done so (and in an hegemonic manner).

    It seems to me that Glynn shouldn’t be so much against the idea of toxic masculinity, but how toxic masculinity can be misconceived or popularly portrayed, or perhaps in the finer points of what attitudes and resultant behaviours constitute toxic masculinity.

    Of course, when certain people claim that all masculinity is toxic, or that aggression/assertiveness/disagreeableness/violence/strength/physicality is always toxic (and there never being appropriate contextual expressions) those people are idiots and can shove their definition of toxic masculinity up their ass.

    • The problem with this is that it’s using a phrase (“toxic masculinity”) that everyone more-or-less understands to suggest one thing (“men are bad”), and when they take exception to that just blindly insisting that no, what it *really* means is ever so slightly different (something along the lines of “being *too much* man is bad”). Which is always both horribly vague (it’s whatever the writer associates with men and sees as harmful or harmful in large amounts) and very precise (only the bad parts).

      I’ve seen this pattern called “motte and bailey”.

      • peanut gallery says

        The problem with people defending the term, is that words already exist to describe this thing. “Asshole.”

        IMO, people defending Toxic Masculinity are like how the non-violent members of Antifa defend the violence by being an anonymous crown you can blend into. “I’m not sexist!” /follows noxious progressive on twitter that calls men toxic M&Ms.

        Yeah, I’m convinced it’s not meant to degenerate men. Maybe some terms aren’t worth defending?

        • Uli Gold says

          @peanut gallery

          “The problem with people defending the term, is that words already exist to describe this thing. “Asshole.””

          BAHAHAHAHAHA! 👏

          Can you imagine how much breath we could save? If racist, sexist, toxic male, fourth wave feminist, nazi, misogynist, troll, critical theorist, social justice warrior, mansplainer, homophobe, transphobe, micro-aggressor, anti-fascist, etc, all went back to just being “asshole”?

          Eff me. Whole college departments would have to close down. They’d have to all merge under “Asshole Studies.”

          Then the medical schools would be like, “Hey, we have a department for that already…”

          • Mitch says

            Lol! Uli, I believe “Asshole Studies” takes place in the University’s Department of Proctology 😛

      • Indeed at this point, “motte and bailey” entry in a dictionary could just read “see: toxic masculinity”.

      • scribblerg says

        Violence is necessary, moral and appropriate at times. Aggression can be incredibly helpful and constructive. Like any other behavior, context is decisive.

        The overly arch construction of redefining toxic masculinity as merely the repulsion or rejection of the female is hyperbolic nonsense. Men are encouraged to be masculine by female sexual selection, if you want to get to ultimate causes. The idea that shaming and rejecting effeminate behavior in men is somehow toxic is pure drivel.

        Otherwise, females obsessing on being maximally feminine and attractive in a feminine way would have to be considered as rejecting masculinity or shaming it. When of course, nothing of the sort is going on.

        Men used to reinforce masculine behaviors much more rigorously in male social settings and this was a way of learning how to be a man. Look at the men coming up today, they don’t even know how to be aggressive in manageable, socially acceptable ways because they just shun this part of themselves. As for violence, it’s even worse. They mostly form their ideas about it based on the media, not fights they’ve had with other boys growing up.

    • Mark Konstas says

      If it wants to be taken seriously, the whole concept of toxic masculinity must be accompanied with a discussion of toxic femininity. Until then, its just man hating in disguise. In fact why not just rename it toxicity in general and leave the gender element out of it. Bad behaviour can be abhored, called out and addressed without labelling half of humankind with it.

      • Fluffy Buffalo says

        I think that if used appropriately, “toxic masculinity” could be a useful concept, because there are typically male kinds of horrible behavior, and it’s worthwhile to identify them and think about ways to deal with them (and to recognize the ways by which toxic masculinity has been brought under control in other times and places). Just like, as you point out, there’s toxic femininity – typically female ways of being horrible, which are worth discussing.
        All of that is moot, however, as long as the term “toxic masculinity” is used by a significant number of SJWs as an all-purpose club to bash all kinds of male behavior.

        • peanut gallery says

          Indeed, point out both feminine and masculine negative traits and I’m more on-board. Personally, some bad male behavior isn’t even masculine. That comedian wanting jerk off in front of women is the lamest and least masculine things ever. Other similar passive-aggressive behavior is similarly non-masculine. I prefer active-aggressive. If you wanna fight, let’s get it done. (To be clear: arguing with words is preferable) Don’t mean-girls me.

      • You’re spot on, Mark. Is there truly a need to even label certain “toxic” behaviors as masculine? And if so, it would be instructive to ask whether women could also display “toxic masculinity.” I think you’d find that many people’s answer to the latter would reveal an implicit bias.

      • Well said – toxicity. Maybe gender-based toxicity acknowledging that there are gendered preferences for how they behave badly? Bad behavior should be called it – regardless of the genetics or gender of the person behaving badly

      • Mitch says

        Well said Mark. I often wonder if there is such a thing called “toxic femininity”. If toxic masculinity exists, then toxic femininity exists as well. As you said, let’s call it toxicity and be done with the gendered element.

    • Heike says

      Women have a sophisticated array of psychological adaptations to weed out the unfit and select the best available mate and one of the most reliable and elegant ways to do this is to set onerous rules that only low-status men will adhere to, exposing the Milhouse mindset of “When she sees I’ll do anything she tells me to, she’s bound to respect me!” so those men can be eliminated from her enquiries.

      • George G says

        @ Heike

        that is a very interesting point. Could this be partly behind the seemingly counter intuitive support many women have for trans issues ? that the intention, maybe unknowingly, is that they are actively encouraging low status males to select themselves out of sexual selection?

        • Ghatanathoah says

          @George G

          I think there are a couple reasons why your theory doesn’t hold up.

          Firstly, women’s support for trans issues doesn’t seem to waver depending on the status of males who transition. They seem supportive of high-status males like Caitlyn Jenner.

          Secondly, there isn’t really anything counterintuitive about women supporting trans rights. If we accept that various stereotypes about women are generalizations with some truth to them, then one common stereotype about women is that they are more sensitive to the plights of people who are suffering than men are. And transpeople are definitely suffering, and supporting them tends to alleviate that. I think that by itself has enough explanatory power.

          Lastly, women seem fairly fairly supportive of transmen in addition to transwomen.

          • George G says

            @ Ghatanathoah

            thanks for your thoughts, yes I think your definitely right on the compassion / reduction of suffering being the main driving force behind the support that’s probably 95%+ of what’s behind the motivation.

            I’m not convinced about Bruce a being high status male. He certainly was at one point an able athlete, presumably is very wealthy and famous from being on TV, but did women view the older, married Bruce as high status at the stage in his life when he was transitioning? I’m not so sure, but I suppose it depends on how women define status. S/He’s going to make a very interesting case study for future generations.

            Regarding the counter intuitive point, I’ve thought more on it reading your response. Counter intuitive isn’t exactly what I was thinking off, what I more meant is that whilst I don’t doubt many / most / a majority of women support Trans rights, I do doubt that even a fraction of those would have a relationship with a Trans person. hypocrisy is too strong a word but there is something disingenuous between their words and actions. many/ most / a majority of women want a partner that will be able to create children with them.

        • Giselle P. says

          @George G

          I think you guys are on the right track.

          Evolutionary psychologists have noticed that women seem to signal their desirability as mates by displaying social empathy and cooperation. Women often do that by supporting social causes that are highly visible and that others will think well of them for (sorority girls volunteering at soup kitchens or whatnot).

          Trans people have had a hard go for a while. It’s only recently that the Women’s Movement has decided it’s the most important thing in the world, which suggests they find it valuable as a signal now but didn’t before, because now, it’s sexy.

          But I also like Heike’s point: men who follow the rules are useful and pliable. Men who break the rules are desirable but also hard to manage. So by setting rules–particularly arbitrary ones that aren’t really critical to functioning–you quickly find out who’s who. John Wayne says, “Hell no, I’m not taking my boots off to walk up your driveway. Take your rules and shove ’em.”

          Of course the best guy is the one who knows when to follow the rules and when to break them. He won’t take his boots off to walk up the driveway, but he has the sophistication to take them off in the house without being asked.

          • George G says

            @ Giselle P.

            thanks for your thoughts. I think Heike is spot on too and Millhouse men is a great term for them

    • Piotr says

      In common conversation that meaning exhausts the term. There is no virtuous masculinity that is the other pole.

      Also there is a broad intensive discussion of toxic masculinity… but almost none of it about toxic femininity. This characterizes stoking a division. It eventually leads to backlash, in this case some MGTOW that blame all civilizations ills on women. Starting with on side just bullying another, then it’s two sides vilifying each other and they are slowly pulling in more and more bystanders into the conflict.

    • MEN NEED TO BE FEMiNISED??
      That is the view of many feminists. They say that men are responsible for so much of the evil in the world, murder, violence, warmongering, sexual abuse and rape – the list goes on into the night They have been told that men are evil, toxic creatures and it is their duty to change them. But what they have found in reality is that effeminate men are the biggest sexual turn off and so they are totally confused, the poor little dears.

      The truth is that there is indeed a dark side to male nature which is an unfortunate fact of life but there is also a very powerful dynamic, creative side to the same coin. Both of these natures are largely down to the drug of testosterone coursing through their bodies and there is nothing women can do about that short of castration or maybe aborting all male fetuses. I have no doubt that there are many feminists who would quite seriously entertain such policies if they had the opportunity such is their twisted vision of the toxic male influence on society.
      Women have quite seriously got up in parliament and said things like “Is it our fault that men are such morons and pigs” (Google it)
      and they get away with it – if any man should dare to counter them with the likes of “Is it our fault that women are such sluts and prostitutes and gold diggers?” They would be roared out of the house in disgrace and they would be condemned and abused on social media with all sorts of costly consequences. Men are still held to the standards of “Being a gentleman” even though women have long ceased to be ladies. Why?

    • Hamster Dance says

      “the misogynistic rhetoric of Donald Trump”

      That’s just poor writing. Are you sure you didn’t mean to send this to Vox or The Daily Beast?

      Many here including me will find this statement HIGHLY debatable. In effect, you are telling a sizable number of readers, “If you don’t accept broad criticisms of Donald Trump prima facie, don’t bother reading on.”

      And I didn’t. 🖕

      • D-Rex says

        I also found that phrase problematic. Could the author please give examples of Trump’s “misogynistic rhetoric”?

    • Werlauer says

      @abondarenko01: May be the ones who have formed the term ‘toxic masculinity’ did not intend what it is used for today. What I always find remarkable is that especially people who fight without remorse against well established linguistic generalisations use this very generalistic term to express themselves. And seem to be astonished if someone generalises the usage of this term.

      That’s very weird to me. Mabe you can explain this inherent contradiction of behavior to me?

  2. ccscientist says

    Women are strict enforcers of men acting masculine. Who will they give their attention to? The more masculine men, the football players in high school. Women are constantly dressing to attract attention. Don’t tell me that black leggings are worn because they are “comfortable”–if that was why then all the men would wear them. The girls are showing off their very attractive legs and butts. And I am happy about it.

    Wives enforce upon their husbands that they do not want to hear whining from their man. They expect pretty heroic efforts to fix things and do the chores. They expect him to fight for that raise, to ask for and accept overtime. They expect him to comfort her worries, not the other way around. And mothers do the same with their children. All of this is just fine because that is what the world needs to function.

    Let me ask you, in a dangerous situation (a barking dog, a potential mugger, a crazy homeless person, a snake, an IRS audit), don’t you ladies want a man who can handle it and protect you?

    • Ghatanathoah says

      @ccscientist

      What you describe is completely contrary to my experiences with women. Most women I have known find masculine men to be boring, annoying, and rude. They get upset when men ask for and accept overtime because that means they get to spend less time with him. They enjoy comforting mens’ worries and dote on men in a maternal fashion. They get annoyed when men whine to excess, but not any more annoyed than when their female friends whine. They appreciate it when a man can help them out and protect in a dangerous situation, but also want to do their part to help the man and protect him.

      I would never put up with a woman who behaves in the way you describe. Women like that are assholes. I think it’s important for men to understand that that kind of behavior isn’t just the way women are. It’s the way some assholes who happen to be women are. There are plenty of women who aren’t like that. Go find a good one and don’t settle for one of the assholes. You really don’t have to.

      • Joe C says

        Meanwhile the jacked quarterback with the chiseled abs gets laid on the weekend, while the soy boy computer nerd is staying home and jerking it to online porn. Girls will always select the most physically attractive, even if it’s just for the night. We all know this happens, we see it happen over and over, and yet we still believe women when they say to guys, “Just be yourself and it’ll happen.” Yeah right. Men need to start paying attention to “how” women act, and not worry so much about what they say.

        • Softclocks says

          Yes, traditionally most people will choose someone they encounter rather than someone they do not encounter…

          What about the “cool artist” stereotype? They seem to have a pull of their own, uniquely removed from the jock-nerd dichotomy. One I honestly find to be a purely american phenomenon.

          • Giselle P. says

            “What about the “cool artist” stereotype?”

            Interesting question. One way to think of it is that “cool artists” have shown creativity not just in making or performing art but in creating a status ladder all their own.

            Rather than accepting the jock-nerd spectrum, they say, “Hey, what if we make up a status hierarchy and adhere to it? Instead of athletic/rich/nicely-dressed being the high status, we make it so that edgy/unusual/creative/sophisticated/sensitive is high status among us? Then more of us have a chance at some status!” Such social engineering shows initiative and creativity, and women find that very attractive, as long as there is originality and initiative behind it (if you just dress like the current rock groups and try to pass yourself off as cool, it usually doesn’t work).

            And yes, it’s more common in America. Since the 1950s, Americans have found ingenious ways to make alternative status hierarchies over and over, that often spread throughout the West. It’s dynamic, but it can also be exhausting and fleeting.

      • Froggy says

        Ghatanathoah

        Regardless of any anecdotal experiences regarding what women like or do not like, the fact remains that it is the women in Western Civilization who perform mating selection. Women choose whose genetics are passed along by choosing the men they mate with. So to the extent that women are plagued by, oppressed by, or tormented by the current crop of males running around, they are ultimately responsible for it.

        If masculinity is truly “toxic” and something to be not only loathed by women, but constitutes a threat to them, then we should see the result of that in coming generations. More beta males should end up reproducing at a higher rate, and we’ll finally be rid of this scourge on humanity. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    • BioRealist says

      “Don’t tell me that black leggings are worn because they are “comfortable”–if that was why then all the men would wear them. The girls are showing off their very attractive legs and butts.”

      Yes, but not to men; rather, to other women. Women dress to compete with and intimidate other women, by exhibiting to other women their superior figures. This is why Cosmopolitan Magazine, the premier women’s magazine and thoroughly feminist in editorial policy, used to place models with prominently displayed big breasts on the front cover, until recently when it became politically incorrect. Its the same as men’s magazines which put muscular male models with big pectorals on the cover. Such images portray the successful intra-sexual competitor. This is why women get so upset when someone suggests that the way a woman was dressed is relevant to whether she was consenting when she says she was raped. Because to a woman it isn’t, because she didn’t dress that way to signal availability to men, but to signal superiority to other women.

      • David says

        Where did they get the idea those attributes were superior? They are displaying their sexual attraction. It may be that attracting men is such a given they are ‘more’ concerned about displaying/posturing away other females. Male posturing/displays are similar.

      • @BioRealist – Perhaps, but women clearly signal men as well as women. The idea that men lift weights only to look strong to other men misses the mark, which while true, is mostly because that male competition is over women.

      • CFGauss says

        So if women are competing with each other, what, pray tell, are they competing for?

  3. O.R. Ange says

    I really enjoyed this article.

    I think one of the parts that struck me the most was concerning the portrayal of men in literature, movies, and in myth. Immediately, my mind turns to the Arthurian Tales concerning Lancelot and Arthur and the rest. Chivalry for the medieval audience was an unobtainable goal as it is nearly impossible to be both a cold-hearted warrior, a romantic poet, a devout Christian who obeyed God’s laws, and more. It’s why most of the characters die at the end as a showcase of their failure to uphold these lofty goals.

    Men today suffer similar problems. The baby-faced, slightly overweight high schooler, who no matter how much he may try can’t seem to get the girl, slay the dragon, and find the grail. Competition for status between men has always been fierce and there’s no doubt that today it remains the same. Ideas of body image, behavior, and more shape how we interact with the world, why we exercise, why we listen to certain music, or wear certain types of clothes.

    But I think all this talk of Toxic Masculinity is best used as a springboard for men to reaffirm themselves to the ability to create, design, and improve the world. Men do well with a dose of stoicism. Not to sit and grumble and complain about how media sources portray men but instead to affirm a very central place in making the world and do so.

    • I’m not sure gender quotas and negative attitudes about boys only clubs will help men “reaffirm themselves to the ability to create, design and improve the world.”

    • Asenath Waite says

      What does a man do, Walter? A man provides. And he does it even when he’s not appreciated, or respected, or even loved. He simply bears up and he does it. Because he’s a man.

      – Gustavo Fring

  4. Peter from Oz says

    Those who want to put everyone within a group and then assign qualities to everyone in the group are not thinking with any real clarity. They continually commit the same sin as those of whom they most vociferously complain.
    The concept of ”toxic masculinity” is complete nonsense. Each man is different. There are so many factors involved in each mans every action, that it is totally stupid to invent some catch all reason for acts of violence. It is pseudo-science at its worst.The ebst we can say is that some men engage in bad behaviour. We have no way of pinning that down to their sex.

  5. Wentworth Horton says

    Most human traits are shared roughly equally by women and men, but there are a few distinct traits that tend more to one than the other. All traits run the spectrum from healthy to perverse and an open discussion of societal norms (remember those?) should be ongoing. Well perhaps it is, but that discussion itself has become the victim of one of our shared traits, tribalism. In this case the perverse version. If we’re going to get by this the first thing we need to do is challenge perverse tribalism.

    Just as an aside, the antithesis of toxic masculinity are the impossible beauty standards our women and girls are bombarded with 24/7. Women preen (thank y’ Jesus, thank y’ Lord), but it has to absolutely suck to be daily slapped in face with a perverse version of a natural trait.

    • jimhaz says

      No, toxic masculinity certainly exists. It comes along with the extra testosterone (or by male hormone injections).

      The problem is that generally women with higher levels of mental masculinity (often lesbian or queer) view everything they do not like, everything that interferes with their own desires to experience via actions the masculinity within themselves, as being toxic.

  6. Channel 5 says

    Toxic masculinity, white privilege, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia –- these are among the most commonly used terms used, almost reflexively, by millions of people on the left every day, on Twitter, in classrooms, in the media, in conversation.

    You can tell a lot about who a group hates or wants to weaken by the kinds of terms or labels they create.

    Using the term “toxic masculinity” = A desire to weaken men as group by putting them on the defensive.

    Using the term “white privilege” = A hatred of or desire to weaken white people as a group, again by putting them in a position in which they constantly have to defend themselves. (Has a term been coined yet to describe the accumulation of privileges available to black people, e.g., de facto college admission quotas, affirmative action, set-asides, endless excuses made for and billions of dollars spent to try to remedy their low academic achievement, a pass in the mainstream media and polite conversation regarding their hugely disproportionate violence and criminality?)

    Using the terms “homophobia” and “transphobia” = A desire to weaken the status in society of majority sexuality.

    And what about “Islamophobia”? How is it that the left has created a term meant to protect from criticism a religion that was responsible for the deaths of 84,000 people just in 2017 alone, but hasn’t created a term to protect Christians (who aren’t killing tens of thousands of people in the name of their religion) from the type of insults and criticisms its adherents endure on campuses and in the left-wing media every day?

    • @Channel 5

      Using the left’s own “intersectionality” model, it should therefore be apparent that the prolific use by the left of the particular terms you listed tells us that it believes the greatest enemy of mankind is the white heterosexual Christian male.

      In other words, the very group that has contributed the most to human progress.

      Which tells me that perhaps the real enemy of the contemporary left may actually be progress itself (or at least my understanding of the term). The SJW/progressive left’s understanding of what constitutes “progress” is probably something entirely different than my own, probably involving the destruction of those very ideas and structures (e.g., capitalism, scientific method, free speech, traditional family) that has moved humanity forward.

      • @a_centrism

        Well yes, the *whole point* of Critical Theory is to destroy civilizational institutions. Because they’re power structures, and therefore created for the purpose of oppressing minorities / the disadvantaged (used to be “the proletariat”).

  7. As a supposed doctrine of gender equality Feminism is awfully quiet about female equivalents of their criticisms about maleness. Do they ever talk about ‘Toxic Femininity’? A good starting point for discussion could be the highly acclaimed Mean Girls.

    • E. Olson says

      KJ – there is no such thing as toxic femininity – any “mean girl” elements you might observe are purely a female defense against toxic masculinity and patriarchy. It’s just like Hillary Clinton recently said about Democrat toxicity – that it would stop as soon as they get power back. Thus if we would get rid of all signs of masculinity and put women in charge of everything (as they fully deserve), then the world would be at peace and utopia would be achieved.

        • E. Olson says

          Paulo – very sad commentary on society today that any sane individual can’t be sure if my comment is or isn’t serious.

      • scribblerg says

        Experiment has been run numerous times already. Human matriarchal societies never rise above mud-hut level development and are always conquered by patriarchal societies.

        Nietzsche was prophetic on how the masculinization of women and their “equality” in politics and our social order would turn our public intellectual dialog into a hash of nonsense.

        At one point I decided to read Rawls Theory of Justice. At another point I read all of Marx’s original works. Then some feminists etc. It’s all weak, pseudo-intellectual drivel. It’s all political and mostly trivial. It’s just that anti-western and now anti-male scholars were given the scope to turn this garbage into an alternate canon of thought so they can stop teaching the classical canon.

        The average social justice female just out of university has never studied say Montesquieu or Spinoza or Popper. I tend to question SJWs about just John Rawls who invented social justice theory as a rubric of its own. Well over half don’t even know who Rawls is…

        They are useful idiots and they are overrunning us..

      • scribblerg says

        Do you think for a second rational thought and analysis is driving this debate? The idea that women should hold themselves to the same standard as they hold men to isn’t possible for a women to hold in her mind. Try it, I dare you…

        They are about destroying, not building. They are about fighting made-up enemies, the more mythological the better.

  8. jimhaz says

    John Stoltenberg is a very queer man. My guess is that mentally he is 60% female.

    “His emotive 1993 book The End of Manhood highlights his personal struggles trying to live up to the restrictive norms of manhood”

    • scribblerg says

      No such thing as “60% female”. In sexually dimorphic, sexually reproducing species, sex (gender doesn’t exist in biology as gender implies that sex roles are merely performative, which is provably nonsense) is determined by the gamete you transmit during reproduction. Every species on earth has its sex determined this way.

      The best theory on homosexuality out there posits that it results from in vitro hormonal exposure. Gay men are exposed to high levels of estrogen. Their effeminate behavior is best seen as a mating strategy, as its intended to attract males. Fyi, not just homosexual men.

      It’s more correct to say that some men are more gay than others. But never a pct female. It’s simply not true. Gay men are male through and through they just have a different thing that fires off arousal in the back of their brains and have adapted and developed to win their mating games, just as hetero people do. If you haven’t read Michael J. Bailey, I suggest you do. You won’t say such silly things in public anymore.

    • Trollificus says

      Very queer and extremely arrogant. Whenever I have fallen short in any of societies’ measures of manhood, my solution has never been to “Do away with manhood.”

  9. Mark Konstas says

    Great stuff John and well argued. Perhaps mankind is not a blight on the planet after all. Who knew. No doubt you’ll get sone hate mail for this article … but you have one overwhelming advantage … truth!

  10. E. Olson says

    Toxic masculinity should definitely be taken out of all those romance novels. We should start by giving women what they “deep down” really want by featuring androgynous looking male “heroes” with a real sense of personal style as evidenced by a wardrobe of designer fashions and personal care items. Such a hero would always give up his male privilege by turning down promotions at work (in favor of a woman), would always be quiet in meetings (so woman are more comfortable speaking), spend their spare time working in an abused women’s shelter where he would listen quietly to the abuse stories without trying to “solve” their problems. His residence would be basement of his mother’s house where he selflessly takes out the garbage, cleans, cooks, and pays rent to help mom out. During his free time he attends events to promote woman’s equality or workshops on how to stop toxic masculinity, and earns his fair and equitable living as an adjunct lecturer in the gender studies department of the local community college, or as a nurse’s assistant, or assistant care-giver in the local pre-school. He is definitely NOT gay (not that there would be anything wrong with it if he was), and when he does find true love, he always asks permission before each romantic or sexual progression, is always attentive to his partner’s needs, faithful despite temptations, and forgives his partner for her sexual wanderings when they get lured into cheap sex by some brutal toxic male with big biceps, broad shoulders, and heavy beard. I predict a best seller and a movie version staring Jim Parsons (aka Sheldon Cooper) as the hero in his first dramatic role.

    • George G says

      @ E. Oslen

      it’d be interesting to see the sales figures if you did write this, compared to , for instance – 50 shades of grey with its 125 million copies sold. There’s an awful lot of women suffering from internalised misogyny buying books based on the premise of being physically and mentally abused by a sexually dominating, millionaire, square jawed man.

  11. Heike says

    “the misogynistic rhetoric of Donald Trump”

    Like what?

    Misogyny is hatred of women. It’s a completely different beast from anti-feminism, and educated people know the difference.

    It is important not to confound Anti-Feminists with Misogynists, or women haters. Some of the early Church Fathers, John Knox, Schopenhauer and Strindberg, for instance, were Misogynists. They disliked and scorned women as such and found little to say in their favour. But men like Herbert Spencer, Nietzsche and myself are Anti-Feminists. We bear no hostility to women nor do we denigrate them gratuitously. We merely assail and resist that Movement which has endured with more or less prominence and success ever since Hellenic days, and has aimed at driving women from domesticity and the home into industry, public life and, in fact, every male sphere.

    Anti-Feminism differs from Misogyny in that, while the former is friendly to normal women, the latter attacks all women. Anti-Feminists see in Feminism a conspiracy against the normally functioning woman; a Movement favourable to a minority of masculinoid females ill-endowed for motherhood, and tending to lure women favourably endowed for motherhood along paths where their psycho-physical needs cannot be satisfied.

    — Anthony M. Ludovici, “Enemies of Women”, http://www.anthonymludovici.com/ew_int.htm

    • Agreed. women are great. Radical feminists are the pits.

  12. The problem with the phrase “toxic masculinity” is that it conflates “some elements of masculinity are toxic” with “masculinity is toxic”. For any sensible definitions, the former is clearly true and the latter is clearly false. Classic motte and bailey.

    I propose a deal:
    Men stop acting like arrogant, swaggering dickheads
    Women stop liking men who act like arrogant, swaggering dickheads

    • Deplorable masculinity says

      Arousal is not subject to negotiation.

    • Martin28 says

      Swaggering does not equal arrogant does not equal dickhead. A lot of cowboys were swaggering, so were many pilots in WWII. That doesn’t make all of them arrogant. Steve Jobs was both, but few would dismiss him a dickhead. My guess is that you are guy who has never had what it takes to swagger.

    • You obviously don’t understand human nature. Women love arrogant, swaggering men because they exude confidence and that’s one of the key traits they want in the father of their children- the attractive women that is. The unattractive ones hate them bitterly because they can never win one.
      That’s the way it has always been and is not likely to change any time soon.

  13. Darwinian says

    If women, on average, prefer masculine traits, then those men who succumb to the missives and become less masculine (and those women who do not tolerate masculinity) will have lower reproductive success and their genes, and attitudes, will become less frequent in following generations. In essence, the “toxic masculinity” issue is a problem that solves itself (by getting rid of those who think it is a problem). Natural selection is wonderful – but slow….

  14. Emmanuel says

    The concept of toxic masculinity was crafted by professional activists of “facts don’t matter school of thought”. Their scholarship relies on unsupported assertions and whining. Jabba the Radfem (also known as Andrea Dworkin) and Stoltenberg’s works are ludicrously bad : they assert whatever come through their mind without paying attention to facts.

    Also, we should not forget that nowadays, the scholar who discuss masculinity are almost always men hating lesbians and caricaturaly effeminate gay men (that is people who are neither representative of the general population nor of homosexual people). Perhaps we should acknowledge that kind of bias.

  15. Northern Observer says

    I am tired of reasoning with ideologues and their NPC minions who spreak about me the way Julius Streicher spoke about Jews. Their intent for me, my brothers and my son is beyond clear and demands a political solution, toute suite.

    • Adjunct-Filth says

      The only political solution is the restoration of freedom of association (and non-association), and restoration of this freedom will only be possible under military dictatorship. And it’s very unlikely that there will be a military coup.

      So, basically we’re waiting for the rise of the cyborg-supermen who will administer the global human zoo from outer space.

  16. Martin28 says

    The writer does not go far enough in exploring the reasons for masculinity in human survival. None of us would be alive without masculine traits in tens of thousands of generations of our ancestors. Our ancestors may have required far more masculinity when they were hunter-gatherers, but we still required a great deal even to survive a few generations ago. That masculinity manifest itself in leadership, bravery in the face of hardship and danger, competence and strength to build and provide, and a willingness to be the sexual initiator and pursuer. No society did not value and need these masculine traits, now interpreted as toxic and oppressive. We needed lots of children and we needed to care for these children and defend our families and communities, not to mention feed and house them. Now the feminist narrative interprets all of this as oppressive, for all time, across all societies. It must be so, otherwise there arguments fall apart. What an ungrateful, limited, point of view. This narrative is toxic to humanity because punishing these traits will make us weak, and is making us weak.

  17. Stephen Harrod Buhner says

    Thanks for the well thought out article. Enjoyed the subtle parsing. An additional point: split gender among species is an evolutionary innovation of long standing. it enables genetic intermingling for a number of specific reasons. As such every man and every woman gain half their genomes from their father, half from their mother. Another way of putting this is that every woman contains within themselves genes from fathers that go back in time to the beginning of us (as do men with their mothers). Believing that the male is toxic is really a form of self hatred, for both men and women who have taken on this belief. As always it will lead to no place good.

    • Martin28 says

      Exactly right–because no one would be alive without both sexes, more or less just the way they are.

  18. TofeldianSage says

    It would be simpler to just renounce John Stoltenberg.

  19. Without acknowledging a corresponding “Toxic Femininity,” the men maligners reveal themselves as abject sexists. To suggest that only men can be “toxic” illustrates a monumental blind spot toward human nature…a pathological denial of thousands of years of female psychological manipulation, mercenary behavior and (although on a far lesser scale) murder. Men are more often the physical aggressors – but this applies far more to circumstances where aggression results in protection and better lives through competition, rather than in violence against women. Demonizing the biology of an entire sex, for the actions of a small majority, is criminally stupid.

    • Martin28 says

      Right. But there has been a 50-year prosecution of men. To bring back a balance, men need a defense that has been as vigorous and thorough as this prosecution. But whenever someone even makes the obvious points, that not only would you not be alive, but also no generation would have survived without men being men, thousands of people stand up and shout “Objection, your honor—that is sexist and bigoted!” and the discourse is driven from mainstream intellectual discussion. Only the prosecution is allowed to stand. Perhaps we have gotten to this point because men are trained to be chivalrous toward women. Men need to stand up, not for themselves, but for humanity. This is not going to be easy for many reasons.

  20. Take 100 pacifists in an enclosed area, add 1 predator, and see what happens.

    There will always be 1 predator, and there will always be men ready to lay down their lives to protect the weak and vulnerable. In fact, someone once said that was the true definition of love.

    In the developed world, there is a lot of safety provided by the state and police forces, and much less use for DIY masculine self-help, but that safety is probably a temporary situation.

    The world has passed through periods of relative peace and security and war and insecurity. We have had relative peace and security in the developed world for a long time, but when someone let’s the predators back in, this kind of applied nonsense will evaporate.

  21. Something great is portended in the future, as the degree and depth of fertilizer that has been strewn upon the Earth to prepare the soil for its coming birth is without historical precedence.

      • Turning and turning in the widening gyre
        The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
        Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
        Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
        The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
        The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
        The best lack all conviction, while the worst
        Are full of passionate intensity.

        Surely some revelation is at hand;
        Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
        The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
        When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
        Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
        A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
        A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
        Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
        Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
        The darkness drops again; but now I know
        That twenty centuries of stony sleep
        Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
        And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
        Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

  22. TofeldianSage says

    Two paragraphs in and I’m sorry to say, this is crap.

  23. peterschaeffer says

    At some level this is a consequence of the relative peace and stability of the last few decades (which may or may not last). Back when men were storming the D-Day beaches, even the phrase ‘toxic masculinity’ would have seemed absurd.

    • Morgan says

      There is that.

      But it is far better to live in a world with name calling than with artillery fire.

      So let us give the “toxics” a wide berth, a wave, and a smile.

      • Gordon Smith says

        Yes it is better to avoid war until the barbarians enter the gate then we can hide behind the toxic masculinity so that we can be defended

      • peterschaeffer says

        Morgan, No one knows when and where we will hear artillery fire again. America had plenty of ‘toxic masculinity’ back in the 1940s. Otherwise, we would be speaking German or Japanese. American had plenty of ‘toxic masculinity’ in the 1950s. Otherwise, our history books would teach use that Stalin was a hero and that Washington was evil.

        Europe today shows that a culture devoid of ‘toxic masculinity’ can’t defend itself. Europe can’t defend its border or even keep Russia / Turkey at bay. Europe has resources (both population and money) that utterly dwarf Russia / Turkey. Yet the Europeans seem absolutely terrified of Russia and Turkey.

        Like it or not, societies lacking ‘toxic masculinity’ fall to societies that have plenty of it.

      • peterschaeffer says

        Kipling understood this quite well. The following is the last verse of ‘Tommy’.

        “You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
        We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
        Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
        The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
        For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
        But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
        An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
        An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!”

  24. V 2.0 says

    Masculinity is neither toxic nor uncaring. There is nothing hotter or more endearing than a muscular guy gently holding a rescued puppy in his giant calloused hand. Stop ruining our fun, feminists!

  25. Paulo says

    Neoteny, retaining juvenile characteristics in adult age. More curious,. more agreeable, more imagination, etc, but also more emotional instability. Every coin has two sides.

    • Paulo says

      Good grief, what horrible English in my last comment (this is a meta comment!).

      • Morgan says

        Well then, my friend, rephrase and elaborate. Do take the time.

  26. Women have testosterone too. The article implies our evolutionary ancestors were mating some version of our modern gracilized females, and nothing could be further from the truth. Erectus women would have looked very masculine to us. It’s also important to recognize that the people pushing this debate are mostly low-t men and high-t women. Sorry, but it’s true.

  27. When your masculinity makes another person sick from exposure, you’ll prove toxic.
    Otherwise, it’s derisive, something a toxically masculine guy would do, but clearly toxically masculine women can be equally vile.

  28. Tim Hjersted says

    Any time I read a critique of toxic masculinity, my hope is that the author will at least accurately define the term, so that the critique can be based on what TM means and does not mean. Instead, as is so often the case, the author chose a hurt feelings-based definition that posits TM means exactly what it explicitly doesn’t mean.

    As a professor of psychology, and someone who presumably knows the difference between a straw-man critique and a steel-man critique, I’m disappointed that you chose the former.

    You said TM “implies that even the smallest amount of masculinity is lethal, poisonous; thus, by using the term, it invariably suggests that all men are toxic.”

    Except, it doesn’t imply that. Not objectively. That’s your subjective experience of it, based on your offended feelings and perception of the phrase.

    I’m also a man, and get this, I didn’t get offended by it. The term doesn’t attack me personally nor does it attack all men.

    When I first heard the term, I assumed toxic was appended to masculinity specifically to separate it from healthy masculinity and the rest of the masculinity spectrum. That was the implication to me. And turns out, that was an accurate assumption.

    Like this video explains (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gha3kEECqUk):

    “Just to make sure there’s no misunderstanding I want to make something absolutely clear. This term is not a condemnation of men or manhood.

    Because again “toxic masculinity” only refers to a particular set of harmful actions and cultural practices.

    And none of those behaviors are inherent or biological traits of men.

    There is nothing toxic about just being a man, but some men do act in toxic ways.

    So in other words “toxic masculinity” is not something that men ARE, but rather it’s something that some men DO.”

  29. Defenstrator says

    I will be blunt. Show me a person that truly believes in toxic masculinity then you are also showing me a person who could be a guard at any death camp or genocide you care to name. They may not be vicious, or even unfriendly. They may in fact be pleasant. But you are dealing with the banality of evil that allows someone to believe that half of humanity is tainted. That their very being is poisonous. And human beings no what to do with poisonous things that hurt them. They destroy them. I have zero problem calling out anyone who advocates the idea of toxic masculinity as sexist and evil. And this is what is required. Only when it is made clear that repulsive ideas of this sort will not be tolerated by people of good moral character will the be forced out of the main stream.

  30. Nearly Normal Frederick says

    Men are angular. Women are spherical. If you paint women, you paint the whole universe. Every woman is a particularization of the one thing – the “She”, the universal power.
    A woman’s body rotating expresses the unity of existence. It (the World-Process) is all just She, Shakti, the Goddess.

    Meanwhile heartless abusiveness is the dis-order of the day.Abusiveness of the entire Earth-world, all human beings, all non-humans, She, the feminine itself, what the world IS. Is in the domain of energy, of feeling, of de-light, shown by a pattern of the senses, a pattern of perceptions.

    The pattern that is Woman is the very source, the substance, the sign of art, of feeling. What is urgently required is the re-integration of She into every aspect of Western culture.

    Men are essentially terrified of the pattern that is Woman. Men are mostly only interested in getting (it) off, getting our stress off, using women in all kinds of ways. We dont want to enter into the unguarded domain of feeling, and the senses, and to be pleasurized there. We cant see ourselves guiltless, lying on a sack of pillows, listening to music,talking spontaneously and happily with your friends about God and nonsense. We are all too stressed up. We want to get our “rocks” off, and get out,and kick ass.

    Men want to forge woman and simultaneously treat the world, then, as some sort of object to be manipulated, because it’s so dangerous. Male is afraid of the female now. To have respect for woman, there must be respect for the natural world. Respect for women, then is respect for the feminine, for She, for yin, for the domain of feeling and the senses, to embrace it utterly, to be conformed to it, to be gentled by it, to be enabled to become whole through that association, woman to man, man to woman. Men have to grow up, and abandon their adolescent wham-bam-thankyou-mam sexuality, and their self-serving adolescent religiosity too.

    What then is the prospect for Woman, and everything that Her pattern represents, with an uber-toxic male as the POTUS.

  31. David Lee Off says

    Feminism is about not raising children. That’s all it is and all it will ever be. Whether through killing the unborn, sterilizing a fertilized zygote, steroidal birth control, or – in the increasingly rare event of a western woman purposely creating offspring – dumping that child off in a day care for someone else to raise.

    There is no “need” for a capable, masculine man. All that a man is needed for is a one-time sperm donation after several hundred short term courtship simulations. Fatherhood and long term reliability is an archaic manifestation of oppression, they say.

    Men can now be “used” for sex and for genetic material. Men must also conform to the expected social norms of paying child support – an increasingly difficult task in the age of equity hiring. It is not outside the realm of possibility for a man to compete with a former mating partner for the same job, while also being forced to pay her child support.

    This is a shitshow. An absolute, unmitigated shitshow. Men have been reduced to boys, albeit a lethal variety. Millions of years of evolutionary adaptions are being purposely obscured for one reason: women don’t want to raise children anymore.

    As for gender toxicity: it wasn’t men who killed 60 million unborn children. And it doesn’t get more toxic than that. Women were given a license to kill 1973. The result has been a holocaust of unborn children and the birth of toxic feminism.

    • TarsTarkas says

      A partial repeat from a comment I made on an earlier article:

      Third wave feminism is about getting preferential rights and opportunities.

      Fourth wave feminism is about eliminating male rights and opportunities.

      Fifth wave feminism will be about eliminating males.

      Third wave feminists want to be considered every bit the equal if not superior to men in everything, but are still capable of comprehending that they never can and never will be able to physically compete with men except on an occasional individual basis. So their solution is to culturally emasculate men so that men will not compete with women. Well, when the toxic masculine Muslim jihadis they support so much come for them, they had better not start crying for help from the eunuchs they created, because those ex-men won’t be capable of providing it.

      • George G says

        @ TarsTarkas

        I think you are on to something here, the fact that the recent Grievance Studies scandal exposed that a feminist journal, Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work, accepted a chapter of Mein Kampf amended to reflect feminist prejudices rather than 1930’s German nationalist ones tells a lot about their direction of travel.

  32. The problem facing all tribes and cultures in all times and places is what to do with adolescent males and young men.
    Our culture has in most cases never really known what to do with young males. And it certainly does not know in the 21st century.

    What are the two the most formative influence on many/most young males in the USA, and world wide too?
    Video games which are saturated with violence and more often than not deep seated misogyny.

    And of course pornography, which is to say many/most young males get their sex “education” from watching pornography which is quite often vile, and increasingly so. Such pornography is of course deeply misogynist.
    Some/many young adolescent males now pressure vulnerable young females to have anal intercourse on their first date! The old scenario of find them, follow them, pork them, and forget them still applies of course, and probably even more so.

    Remember how the Jesuits claimed that if they were given the child for the first seven years of its life, it would thus become the church’s for the rest of its life. There is also an almost immutable law of how the mind functions, namely you become what you put your attention on. So young males in their millions being are being quite literally brain-washed via their electronic screens

    But it is not just the mind that is so effected, every aspect or dimension of their bodies and psyche are simultaneously patterned by such brain washing. Such emotionally retarded techno-zombies are now the norm.

    Two references which apply to the situation.
    The Natural Superiority of Women by Ashley Montagu.
    The Sibling Society: An Impassioned Call for the Rediscovery of Adulthood by Robert Bly.

    • Defenstrator says

      First off, misogyny is a hatred of women. Since nothing you described entails hatred I suggest you stop using words that you do not know the meaning of. Second, your knowledge of video games is less than your vocabulary. You clearly know nothing about them and are simply articulating your own beliefs, rather than describing them as they are.

  33. Andrew Mcguiness says

    This article adds nothing sensible to the debate;

    and

    I’m giving up on reading Quillette.

  34. Indiewifey says

    I read/hear the label as being a descriptor for a very particular, singular type of masculinity, just as I would read/hear the phrase “toxic femininity” as being very particular and singular-

    and every bit as real.

    So I think basic error exists in granting the term too broad a validity brush to begin with. Masculinity in and of itself, a quantitative quality, is subjective to either beholder or possessor, or both

  35. There are two sexes and zero genders. THAT'S IT. says

    Maybe we should start talking about toxic social constructionists. They’re the ones damaging our societies.

  36. Interesting article. I too am getting sick of the term “toxic masculinity,” and I’m someone who used to use it. However, I’ll disagree on one point; the term itself doesn’t mean all masculinity is toxic. That may be what that John Holtenberg article said, but that’s an extreme case, and I don’t see it very often.

    It’s always been my understanding that when people use the term “toxic masculinity,” they’re not saying all masculinity is toxic. They’re just referring to men bullying, treating women as less than human, and being overly alpha male. I think you can be strong and assertive without being an asshole. Unfortunately, I think the term has now been so overused that it lost its original meaning and should be retired.

    Maybe “don’t be an asshole” should be the new creed, I dunno.

    • Damn right, Ken. Toxic assholery has a nice ring to it, I think.

  37. Peter from Oz says

    Didn’t Kissinger say when told that Iraq had started a war with Iran that he wished that both could lose?
    That’s how I feel when I hear about the batteles between the trannies and the feminists.
    Having said that, I can still feel some annoyance at the fact that these trannies think they have the right to disrupt the speech of others.
    What is it that they are so afraid of hearing, these girly-boys? If they are so certain of their argument why aren’t they making it, instead of trying to shut down others. Do thranny activists ever offer violence to men? I doubt it somehow.

  38. Mitch says

    I think “toxic masculinity” is a joke. We can thank postmodernism and its apparent preference for explaining reality though the use of social constructions for this. Hear me out on this one folks.

    Arguing that male and female are social constructs flies in the face of science. We know that character traits are largely influenced by biology and genetics – after all, our minds dictate our behaviour and the way we express ourselves and our minds are products of our brains, which are products of eons of evolution. Casting science out as a “way of looking at things, dominated by western white masculinity” doesn’t treat science with any due respect. If science was a “way of looking a things”, then human induced climate change is simply “a matter of perspective”. We know that isn’t the case. Just because the discipline of science has had a skew towards male representation doesn’t remove its role as a bearer of truth on our reality. The way that society (used loosely) characterises traits can indeed be negative, but that doesn’t remove the scientific reality. You can’t justify evil by science in the same way that you can’t dismiss science because of evil. There seems to be a great deal of confusion on that these days….

    Enter “Toxic masculinity”. I think it is an excuse for the disillusioned and resentful to vent their spleen. They are more than welcome to do it, as am I to say what I will.

    For all of society’s ills and ailments I don’t believe we will do ourselves any favours by confusing healthy masculinity with tyranny. Let men help other men be better men. Let women help other women be better women. When we cross paths and help the other sex, we should do that in a way conducive to one another’s wellbeing and health. Rather than correct the alleged “ills” of one gender and in so doing appropriate historical injustices to character traits – which are apparently social constructions anyway – how about we shift focus and avoid toxic attitudes altogether. Gender doesn’t even come into that. It’s truly terrifying when one begins to pin historical injustice on a race, a gender or sexual preference (or in some cases all three). Evil actions are evil actions – they don’t discriminate.

    IF – that is a huge if – we define “toxic masculinity” as a negative attitude towards the expression of emotion, the pursuit of higher status at any cost, the love of violence and untapped aggression then so be it – but I hardly see why we need to put the word “masculinity” in there. These characteristics are toxic by nature. Unless we want to label “toxic femininity” as the over-expression of emotion, the desire to stay within an established status, the hatred of violence in justifiable circumstances and restrained, repressed aggression… Then I suggest we drop the gendered baggage and call things as they are – toxic.

    John Stoltenberg can say what he likes about masculinity; he has the right to do so. I also have the right to chuck his ill-thought out nonsense in the bin.

    Or perhaps my unconscious, straight white male bias is showing?

    If so, then I turn to Mary Wollstonecraft:

    “Virtue can only flourish among equals”

    Maybe we can cut the virtue signalling out and treat each other equally? Both men and women alike? Then we shall arrive at true virtue.

  39. The one element overlooked in the original article is that masculinity is indeed toxic: to men. Men die at younger ages than women. Men are more likely to successfully commit suicide. Men are more likely to be victims (as well as perpetrators) of assault and homicide. Men are more likely to be paralyzed. Men are more likely to have heart attacks. Men smoke more. Men drink more alcohol.

    How much of this difference is inherent to a body that is permeated with testosterone and has Y chromosomes? And how much of it is due to cultural norms of violence, competition, a repression of negative emotion? There’s persuasive argument that, like most behavioral traits, the answer lies somewhere in between 100% inherent biology and 100% cultural conditioning.

  40. Pingback: On Toxic Masculinity – The winds are changing

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