The author says, they don’t think all “masculinity” is “toxic.” They think that there’s a lot of it that harms men because of the restrictions it places on our expression of emotions, especially grief or pain.
That’s absolutely true. But the thing I have been thinking lately is, there’s nothing we call “masculine”, that’s both a positive and only masculine. A trait that women just don’t manifest. Can you think of one? I’ll wait.
I have long asserted that the apparent stupidity of Rethuglicans is wilful and malicious. If you saw Pumpkin turn his daily COVID-19 hour of lies (“press briefing” LOL) into a commercial for My Pillow today, you now know what I mean.
But even more seriously: read this article. The aim of the right-wing noise machine now appears to be literally to reduce the population. To kill as many of us as they can.
Other conservatives have framed protective measures as a threat not only to America’s rugged individualism but to masculinity. The Christian pastor Jonathan Shuttlesworth referred to social distancers as “sissies” and “pansies” who have been “neutered,” and described Christians who use hand sanitizer as having “fake faith” and “no balls.” Another minister said he would never close his church, because his congregants were not “pansies.” Some politicians, including the lieutenant governor of Texas, and pundits, including Glenn Beck, have gone so far as to suggest that older Americans should be willing to risk death to preserve the economy.
Good old toxic masculinity! Just when you thought that was something we only worried about in happier times, like 2018. This may be evil of me but I really sincerely hope they get exactly what they wish for. That is to say, they should get exactly what they wish for you and me.
My wife Jill was having lunch today with two male colleagues. Let’s change the names to protect the benighted. We’ll call them X and Y.
As they were waiting for their food a table next to them broke and they watched the three men at it walk away, one wearing pink sneakers. X offered the opinion that men ought not wear pink sneakers.
Jill asked why? Pink and purple and even sparkles are all perfectly valid things for anyone to wear who wants to.
Oh sure, said, X. I have a pink shirt! But shoes, that’s not OK for a man to wear in pink. Y piped up, Or underwear!
Jill said, I don’t care if you’re wearing pink underwear right now, as long as you’re comfortable in it.
The conversation moved on from there, but I think we all know what the underlying message was. A giant serving of homophobia, with a heaping side of rigid insistence on the gender binary. She wondered to me later if she should have called it out, as one should at work. But I think the setting of a work lunch and the fact that the homophobia was never expressed openly puts it into enough of a grey area that it was OK to just let it pass.
Of course when I heard this, the provocateur in me simply had to order a pair of those from Zappos. I will be sure to be wearing them to the next family event at Jill’s office.
As you might know from reading older entries I am a huge non-fan of this thing we call the man-box. Well, recently I found a podcast and NY Times article that bring this issue to the foreground again.
Aymann Ismail comes out of Arab culture: one of the most stereotypically fecund sources of toxic masculinity. Honor killings, srlsly? If you needed a reminder that the man-box is deeply rooted in misogyny, there you have it. His podcast will show some of the personal aspects of what it’s like to journey out of that milieu. Highly recommended.
This distressing NY Times Magazine article tells how the author’s cousin was suddenly motivated to kill. A violation of a narrow idea of what being a man means brought hormonal rage dangerously to life in a lightning-quick moment. I found this hard to read in one sitting; I needed breaks.
I do believe that the most recent presidential election result and, not to be redundant, the decline of our civil society, is mainly due to basic American racism. But that said, I think the vast majority of the remainder is due to toxic masculinity. Abating or eliminating both of these would certainly result in a return to progress.
Slowly, slowly, organizations are moving to the right side of history.
Now, of course, there is a backlash. Men are furious and responding with everything from calls for boycotts to mass destruction of Gillette products. I do wonder what is going on in the minds of these men who have such a visceral need to defend rape culture and bullying.
Of course, the remedy Gillette offers to toxic masculinity is, well, less-toxic masculinity. The binary shall reign supreme, but men should just be a bit more… polite? So this video is quite incrementalist in its approach. And still, it’s easy to imagine the jitters in the boardroom before this was approved.
As for Gillette – let’s see if they stick with it. It’s not far enough, but it’s still a considerable step for a brand like that. If they hold firm, and move it forward… if they run this ad or one like it during the Super Bowl…
I might even consider buying their products again.