Toxic masculinity. It seems a phrase that’s thrown around in epic proportions with very little understanding, or even meaning.
It’s like when I wrote an article on Narcissistic Personality Disorder and how you can recover from it and I had an influx of men asking me for help.
The thing with NPD is that mostly everyone who has it, are either blissfully unaware or generally won’t acknowledge it — so these men running to me in a panic most probably had a bad date or relationship, nothing more.
This is just the same. It’s nothing more than a buzz word to describe bad behaviour.
I’d like you to hold onto this phrase before you read on with this article:
Masculinity is a tool. A screwdriver is a tool. You can stab someone with it, or you can use it to build a house.
Toxic Maleness is not inherent
There is nothing inherent in masculinity that makes men bad or evil, or “toxic” for that matter. It all depends on the support a man has from his parents as a child, their external influences such as friendships, and the decisions they have made from the latter two.
I’ve used the term toxic masculinity in the past. I do feel there are elements of masculinity that can toxicize men into doing horrendous things, but in the same breath other men can use those same traits to do amazing things. It all depends on their upbringing and external influences. For instance my father’s relationship with me was very toxic, but on the flip-side his experiences in his youth weren’t the best. He wasn’t just placed on earth inherently bad. There was a slow continual process to the change.
The problem with the term bad masculinity is that it’s framed from a woman’s viewpoint — the entire phrase is gynocentric. It doesn’t take into account the lived experiences of men or the very real viewpoints of men; the entire term toxic masculinity is solely based on the consequences of men’s actions with women. Little to no research has been done on the consequences of the interactions between men and men. Maybe because it’s too controversial and highly politicized? I’m not too sure. One thing is for sure — is that it’s not good to criticize the “woke” culture. Cassie Jaye being of prime example. You couldn’t get a nicer lady, but since she challenged her own views in a calm, respectful, reflective and thoughtful manner and she is now brandished as a heathen alt-right sympathizer.
I was once a Feminist
My own story is that I spent a long time working with men with severe mental health problems, mixed in with the problems I was having with my own father at the time caused me to believe that men in general needed help. Whilst that was probably true for the men I had surrounded myself in, this wasn’t indicative of the entire population of men. I’ve probably known personally a couple of hundred men in my life — there are 3 billion men roughly on this world. I couldn’t state that men were all toxic because the proportion of men that I knew in my life was relatively the size of a needle in a giant ocean.
The real change was when I moved out of my ordinary circles and began meeting men that were different to me; I stopped assuming things about men and went in with an open mind. I created the Man Cave; a failed crypto project that aimed to empower men. It failed because of funding, but it didn’t fail on the groundbreaking work that we did. It was a non-judgemental area for men to just.. talk. And boy did they talk.
I learned a lot about men via the man cave. Primarily that my own bad experiences had shaped my viewpoint towards men in general. I experienced quite a bit of cognitive dissonance as I began meeting fathers, sons, pastors, Nigerian men, Chinese men, Eastern men, Western men and yet these men were warm and friendly and wanted the best for their families — it didn’t play in to the toxic maleness element at all. Of course, there was one or two tearaways but this is in every demographic.
The idea of the patriarchy tells us that we as men should let go of our feelings when we need to; that society corners us into bottling up our feelings forever and thus creates a pit of male rage funneled through toxic masculinity, yet those same people don’t seem to understand that those feelings aren’t nice and fluffy feelings, those feelings are of fear, anger, loneliness, and fragility. And somehow, yes, there is a thing called male fragility. So, men need to open up more, but somehow.. male fragility? And if you haven’t guessed, male fragility is a bad thing. This is a catch 22 if I ever saw one.
I’ve worked with A LOT of men
I’ve worked a lot with men in the past, and it would be surprising for you to know those that eschew the feminist diatribe are usually the men that need working on. Myself as prime example. My lack of father figure in the household caused all sorts of later-life issues. My inability to keep in a relationship was directly related to my idea that women needed saving. The pure hatred my mother espoused on my father caused me to both love and hate my dad at the same time. I grew up with such conflicting messages that I didn’t know if I was coming or going. I was told by women that I would be a great catch, but on the other hand those same women would never date me. They didn’t want to date a friend, and a friend was all I was.
The current narrative on toxic masculinity has me scratching my head, mainly because the proponents of this term are usually women; women with sometimes very unhealthy backgrounds ranging from abuse to neglect, and whilst they have very real experiences with bad men and unhealthy masculinity, this is not reflective of the entire populace of men and shouldn’t be held to the same standard. I say this because I come from a background of abuse and neglect, and until I had fully healed there’s no way on earth you should have taken my ideas on women seriously (yes, I was abused and neglected by women)
Now say, perchance, that I was to write an entire article on Toxic Femininity and became a global knowledge-point on females and femininity? Would I be a bit of a charlatan? Considering that I have never once known what it’s like to feel like a woman, think like a woman, or be considered as a woman by other people? This is the quandary I have when presented with females telling me how to live my life as a man, when they have absolutely zero experience in that domain. That’s like me telling you to invest in a product but I’ve never tested it before.
Alison Tieman from The Honey Badger Radio said it best 4:00 minutes in when being interviewed by Cassie Jaye on rejecting feminism when she said,
To be honest, it became such an easy way to deflect the lack of care or self esteem towards myself, onto hating men
And that’s all it is. It’s a way to acknowledge the bad traits of men but completely ignore the bad nature of women. Women can be bad too; any middle-aged mother will know how it feels to be socially isolated by the “cool mum” clique, but we don’t acknowledge any of that, or the bad behaviour of women that sometimes fuel certain elements of masculinity that feminists find toxic. We just purport the idea that women are these abused, fragile little damsels in distress getting on with their business, doing no wrong, when the big mean old men from the patriarchy come along and destroy everything.
The idea of toxic masculinity is a very immature way to view the world
But that’s a very childlike view of the world. There is no clear-cut good and bad at all, and there’s always two sides of a story. For instance until the 26th year of my life all I had known was neglect and abuse, but that didn’t make me fragile and oppressed — the most intervention when I had it, was done so that I didn’t carry on that cycle of abuse. My potential to carry that on with a son, a friend, or a partner was high if I didn’t have any intervention at all.
So if you think toxic masculinity is a thing I’d say go out and meet more men. Go outwith your normal social cliques; go to places you wouldn’t normally go. There are hoardes of good men out there. I’d say if all the men that you know suck, then go somewhere you don’t normally go. And work on yourself. All these buzzwords today are a way to distract you from doing what’s important. Working on yourself.
It’s easy to point the finger at other men than reflect on what’s going wrong in your own life — and change it.