Is Male Stoicism Toxic?

by | Dec 10, 2018 | Emotional Intelligence, Emotions, Men's Issues, Values

Male Stoicism

The first thing that I want to make clear is that I don’t believe in so-called toxic masculinity when it seems fairly obvious that this narrative was produced by groups that not only care if males, as a whole, fail, but want males to fail. By now most of us have gotten it baked into us that we are toxic and evil simply because of how we were born and it’s not like we had a choice in the matter. Nevertheless, many of us have fallen into these ideas and subjected to ideas on how to be a real man by, well, angry women. Out of all the traits that supposedly define toxic masculinity, stoicism is the one that has stalled me out the most. The definition of stoicism itself is nuanced and abstract and has been the topic of philosophical debate. But it has become apparent that those who want to see males fail have applied their black and white thinking to stoicism. As a side note, that’s one of my personal and professional red flags about a person. Black and white thinking or just the inability to see or understand nuances but that’s another topic for another time.

Stoicism, according to the dictionary definition, is the ability to endure hardship while maintaining one’s emotional composure. As I’ve already said, stoicism is also a school of thought in Greek philosophy. It’s really interesting and good stuff and I recommend that people do their own research and read up on stoicism.

In the context of toxic masculinity, stoicism seems to have been equated with being apathetic, indifferent and uncaring as though being stoic is what enables males to abusive, cruel and sociopathic. Again, there is so much subtlety and nuance here. Some people fail to see it and some people refuse to see it and that’s problematic. Being stoic is not the same as being uncaring, indifferent and apathetic and it’s unfortunate that stoicism is being lumped in with cruelty and equated with the idea that because someone is stoic, they also lacking compassion and that’s just not true.

Let me give an example here, to provide some context. Police officers, who are mostly males, are often placed in situations that are pretty gruesome and grim. People have lost their loved ones, they see dead bodies and I recently listened to an off duty cop tell me about how he had to cut a teenager down after they had hung themselves. It’s in these situations that it’s crucial for them to remain stoic and maintain their composure. Could you imagine what would happen in that situation if he had been crying hysterically and coming apart emotionally?

One of my favorite scenes in all of cinema is the opening scene to Saving Private Ryan when all the troops are on the landing barges, approaching a beach where they knew that they were going to running into machine gun fire. Can you imagine what would have happened if they had been screaming, crying and freaking out? The whole operation would have fallen apart. In my own experience working with teens in residential treatment centers, I was in many situations that were scary and dangerous. The worst of which was when a young girl snuck away from her group, shattered a window and proceeded to slice her arms to ribbons. There was blood everywhere. The staff that remained calm and composed saved her life that day; they were heroes. But there was always one bottom line lesson, day in and day out, no matter how big or small a problem was, freaking out was guaranteed to always make it worse.

Stoicism isn’t a toxic or negative trait. It’s a good one. It’s what makes males great. The ability to be stoic is what enables people to do heroic things. Firemen run into burning buildings and cops run into active shooter situations because of their ability to keep their composure. As a parent, when your child comes home screaming because they scraped their knee, you must stay calm and keep your composure because it has a calming effect for them. There are countless situations where it could be demonstrated that being stoic is a virtue and personal strength.

Stoicisim isn’t toxic, it’s what makes males great.

But we shouldn’t be surprised that stoicism has been labeled as toxic by those who have a one size fits all, scream, yell, make a scene, throw a tantrum over everything, irrational types. When in doubt, distribute insults, always blame, always take the stance of the victim types. Honestly, why do any of us take them seriously when they act like this? But unfortunately, they have been taken seriously and droves of young males are being taught that they are toxic for insane reasons like this. But shouldn’t that tell us something really important about feminism and social justice groups? I stand by the notion that when a positive trait like stoicism is labelled as evil and toxic, that speaks volumes about those who take this stance.

Ultimately, I also stand firm on my stance that women, especially the ones that want males to fail and those that see the success of females being hinged on the failure of males. Again, why should we listen to those who want half of the general population to fail? If half of us fail don’t all of us fail?

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