Straightening Out the Drivel About Toxic Masculinity
By now, most of us are familiar with this concept of toxic masculinity. Good luck getting any kind of real definition of what toxic masculinity actually means. I’ve been trying and it’s pretty hard to get some good definitions of behavior that are A) specific and largely pervasive instead of isolated and rare and B) shown exclusively by men. One person told me that toxic masculinity is the lack of taking personal accountability for one’s actions. Right, because females are never guilty of that. The only other real answer that I can get about toxic masculinity are behaviors around being “sexually aggressive” and as many of us have realized by now is that this definition seems to be left largely up to individual interpretation. “Sexually aggressive,” is just as vague and nebulous as the term “toxic masculinity.”
Sexually Aggressive Males
Those who speak up against toxic masculinity say that they condemn rape and non-consensual sexual contact. Well, no duh. The fact remains that the males that engage in sexual assault are a small representation of all total males, offenders are almost always repeating offenders. That is, one rapist usually perpetrates on multiple people before he is caught and stopped. And they don’t do it because they don’t know that it’s wrong. They know that it’s wrong and they do it anyways as is the case for all criminals. People don’t do bad things because they have no idea that it’s bad, they know it’s bad and they do it anyways. This idea that we need to teach all boys not to rape is beyond preposterous, they already know and this is just a way for some people to punish boys because they obviously hate them and want to punish the people that they believe are the villains.
Nevertheless, the narrative around toxic masculinity persists. And even though our modern age is, by far, lacking in traditional machismo behaviors than it ever has, we’re somehow supposed to believe it’s still a major problem. But I stopped believing that these narratives were pushed out of some kind of sense of altruism a long time ago. It’s clearly a power grab; the product of the never-ending power struggle between various groups. Not surprisingly, the narrative against males comes with a strong victim story. All males are evil, by nature, and they abuse and victimize all females. Thus society is split into two groups: group A is the evil abusers and villains while group B is the hapless and heroic victims. There is no consideration for personal character or behaviors, if you’re male you’re a villain and an abuser and if you’re female you’re a victim and a hero. And thus the term and ideas of toxic masculinity emerge and used as a weapon.
As many of us already know, there are many glaring problems with this story. Statistical data is just flat out inconsistent with the toxic masculinity stories and for the most part, I normally wouldn’t really care. A lot of people say a lot of things and I honestly think that everyone is kind of a moron, myself including. We’re all morons, it just depends on what kind but in my world, nobody should be listened to or given credence until they give good reasons for determining credibility. If we wait long enough, this wave of moral hysteria will pass just like the previous ones and as the great Mark Manson has advised, we should be really limited in what we actually give a fuck about. I’ve begun taking major issue and seriously giving a fuck with the ideas and narratives being pushed about “toxic masculinity” for one major reason: suicide.
Teen suicide continues to climb all over the western world with 80% of the completions being boys. My work with teen boys is discouraging, to say the least. Boys are being constantly bombarded from every direction by every self-righteous, social justice, narcissistic moron that has appointed themselves as the hero who believes that they are personally responsible for making sure that every boy knows about his toxic masculinity. I know that the spiking rates of teen boy suicide have many moving parts, I know that this is one of them. Boys are growing up being told that they are inherently bad just because of how they were born which I find to be a particularly narcissistic and evil thing to do.
But it’s not just boys taking their lives, it’s adult males too. Males have come to adopt, widely, that their masculinity is evil, destructive, abusive and toxic. They have come to see themselves inherently this way. Now, I will not dispute that traditional male roles have had a tendency to be too rigid, and I agree, this isn’t a good thing but perpetuating the idea to all males that they are born evil and born toxic, is a seriously warped and heinous thing to do. I see these guys, young and old, they are in pain, they are suffering. They live in a world that seems to hate them and they feel like they cannot be redeemed.
Altruism or Power?
I have two sticking points here: 1) Those who push toxic masculinity narratives are only doing so to gain power and to dominate. It’s not about altruism, it’s about power. 2) Males are actually quite lost. They are told to deny their toxic natures without any guidance, whatsoever, on healthy masculinity. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired, really tired, of seeing women in the mainstream talking about what it means to be a “real man.” Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot, if men were on TV talking about how to be “real women,” certain people and groups would be losing their collective minds. Women can’t teach us how to be real men. That would be like a surgeon telling you how to be a good mechanic. If they’ve never done it, they shouldn’t be telling others how they are supposed to do it.
My Call to Action
I know that there are so many good people out there that agree with me on these points but they have a tendency to be dominated by the narratives pushed by the social just bullies. It has become increasingly difficult for me to ignore them because they are pulling kids into their toxic masculinity and I stand firmly that is a wrong and evil thing to do. People aren’t motivated to do good things when they are shamed for what they were born as. Especially when it just looks like a power play by those that want males to fail. There are many steps that we can take to take this on but I want us to tell a different story. People do bad things, day in and day out, some of them are men and some of them are women. Blame is useless so we need to stop telling stories of blame. If we focus on the heroes and the males that do amazing things, I guarantee that we’re going to see a hell of a lot more it. My goal is to actively challenge ideas of toxic masculinity. You don’t have to say “men aren’t toxic,” but instead you can talk about heroic things that men do or talk about a personal hero and what makes them great. Point out uplifting stories in the news.
Here at Orion, we’re going to be talkinga lot about healthy masculinity. Instead of a big list of what’s wrong with you as a male, we’re going to talk about what is great about being male. What traits come out stronger in males, how to develop them and how to express those traits in ways that are positive and empowering to the self and to others around us. A few examples of these traits are things like courage, strength, brotherhood, positive use of anger, composure, protectiveness, compassion, and empathy. Yeah, I know, women have a lot of these traits too, I fully accept and acknowledge that but I believe that the masculine expression of these traits is different than the feminine. Unique and equally great in their own ways. So stay tuned.