Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

Toxic Masculinity (1 Viewer)

notsocordial

Senior Member
I am walking down the street when I feel a few eyes on me. I look sideways and see a few guys gaping at me. Is it my dress? Is it my hair? No. I keep walking, they hoot. They call out a few names and laugh among them. I am uncomfortable now. I walk faster. They follow me. I am scared. Should I call someone? What's the police's number? Should I run? I look back and see that they're stationary now, laughing nevertheless. I am relieved. They are proud of how they were successful in making one tiny girl scared. They are proud of successfully being able to make someone uncomfortable with their remarks. Kudos, guys!


This is just a drop in the ocean that I am talking about. Every day we come across different versions of these scenarios. Oh, wait, I am not here to rant about how oppressed we are and how we need help. I am here to discuss the upbringing and the pressure of the society that most likely leads to situations like these. This issue has so many tributaries that it will only take a second for us to diverge from the one that I am writing about- Toxic Masculinity.


I have always been a little under-confident about what these words meant together. How a general characteristic of a person can be considered toxic always startled me. I had assumed it has more to do with women than with men and I was wrong. It is more closely associated with how the upbringing of men in a patriarchal society instills a false ego, a sense of superiority and pride, and a dominance over other "weaklings" creates a kind of behavior that is harmful to them and their dear ones.
When I look back on that incident, I see a bunch of guys who are laughing about being able to scare a single girl when they are in a group, by cracking lame comments at her as she passes by. This gives them the "pretense authority" over her and they know how they seek validation of being a superior gender every day. This is their easiest way. I feel sad for them.


More often than not, men get offended when this issue is addressed to them. Perhaps, they know it's wrong and yet they do not know how to defend it because no one in their childhood sat them down and spoke to them with words of acceptance, understanding, and compassion. They were told to put up a brave front and wipe off those tears and show strength, arrogance, and exterior of "manliness". They were told that crying is for the weak and dominance was their power, even if that led them to abuse and assault others.


"Boys will be boys" doesn't have to be a bad thing anymore. Shedding tears is not weak, it's human. Lending a hand of help to those who need you is a sign of generosity; turning your face away is inhumane. Harassing others doesn't make you more of a man. You don't have to raise your voice to prove how masculine you are. If you slightly feel the need to prove yourself to anyone, I think that's where you need to pause, take a break and rethink the toxicity that you might have been harboring.
 

Amnesiac

Senior Member
Interesting... Thought-provoking piece. It is my theory that these sorts of guys, (I hesitate to use the term, men) were not taught how to treat women by their own fathers, mothers, and grandmothers. And I don't recall ever being formally taught these things, myself. It's more the general atmosphere during my upbringing. Men were supposed to protect, provide for, and respect, and cherish women. There is never anything to gain by beating up on, ridiculing, or belittling someone smaller than you, whether man or woman. A man that does ceases to be a man, and instead, is little more than a coward, a bully, a brute;scarcely better than a rabid dog. For better or worse, that's how I see it. I've never catcalled a woman, whistled at one, or ever hit a woman, and I never will.
 

velo

Staff member
Supervisor
[trigger warning]

I was raised by the epitome of the toxic masculine figure. My father was a cretin. He taught me to value women merely as penis receptacles and that their worth was bound tightly with their attractiveness. Thankfully, I'm lucky in that I've been able to change the lessons he taught me and remake my own value system into something much more appropriate for civilised society.

Men like you describe get a lot of pity from me, as well as disgust and anger. You are right that they likely did not receive healthy examples of male-female interaction growing up and, for whatever reason, have not been able to break out of that mould. Even though, this isn't the 18th century...the information is out there that this is not an acceptable way to behave. They should know better.

There is another side to men, however. Two weekends ago my 10yr old stepdaughter was at the lake and had a run in with a couple 12 year old boys who said truly horrific things I will not repeat here. These kids are catcallers in training. The incident was observed by several men (luckily I was not there, I'd like be in police custody at the moment) who all stood up (my wife was very impressed) and made it very clear that they would protect my stepdaughter from these little [BLEEP]s and all the men in attendance expressed disgust for the boys' comments/actions. The stepfather of one of the boys, by all accounts a heavily tattooed and rather rough 'biker' looking bloke, made it very clear that lessons would be taught when they got home.

It's a sad truth that we remember the negative more than the positive. I know this doesn't make walking past a cadre of douchebags any easier and I'm sorry for that but I'd just like to offer that a lot of us men are not this base and crude.
 
Last edited:

notsocordial

Senior Member
I was raised by the epitome of the toxic masculine figure. My father was a cretin. He taught me to value women merely as penis receptacles and that their worth was bound tightly with their attractiveness. Thankfully, I'm lucky in that I've been able to change the lessons he taught me and remake my own value system into something much more appropriate for civilised society.

Men like you describe get a lot of pity from me, as well as disgust and anger. You are right that they likely did not receive healthy examples of male-female interaction growing up and, for whatever reason, have not been able to break out of that mould. Even though, this isn't the 18th century...the information is out there that this is not an acceptable way to behave. They should know better.

There is another side to men, however. Two weekends ago my 10yr old stepdaughter was at the lake and had a run in with a couple 12 year old boys who said truly horrific things I will not repeat here. These kids are catcallers in training. The incident was observed by several men (luckily I was not there, I'd like be in police custody at the moment) who all stood up (my wife was very impressed) and made it very clear that they would protect my stepdaughter from these little [BLEEP]s and all the men in attendance expressed disgust for the boys' comments/actions. The stepfather of one of the boys, by all accounts a heavily tattooed and rather rough 'biker' looking bloke, made it very clear that lessons would be taught when they got home.

It's a sad truth that we remember the negative more than the positive. I know this doesn't make walking past a cadre of douchebags any easier and I'm sorry for that but I'd just like to offer that a lot of us men are not this base and crude.

I agree. Not every man is the same. And, it is how it is. It is a sad scenario and needs to be corrected ASAP.
 

Ralph Rotten

Staff member
Mentor
Interesting piece.
Mechanically speaking, you did a good job. No derailments, the text and conversation flowed, you painted the images quite clearly...

...but it felt like the article never really went anywhere. During the first 3 paragraphs you were building like a volcano, then it tapered in the 4th paragraph, and your emotion became more analytical. I'd clip the last 2 paragraphs and keep building that thing until it explodes and wipes out Pompeii. You were on a great trajectory.


PS: Don't worry about offending the men-folk in the forum, we can take it.
 

CyberWar

Senior Member
I don't believe there exists such a thing as "toxic masculinity". There's only "being a douchebag", which is quite distinct from and should not be confused with masculinity in any sense.

I find that term poorly-worded (and likely conceived by men-hating feminazis) since it implies that masculinity itself can be "toxic" and therefore a bad thing (as opposed to some men being rude and obnoxious assholes).
 

Winston

WF Veterans
Good piece. I personally prefer brevity, but in this case, I find myself craving a bit more from you. I would consider this a good "pump-primer", for a sociology class discussion.

I am conflicted with the premise of "toxic masculinity". The toxic part is irrefutable, but there is no masculinity demonstrated. In my Universe, being a "man" and "masculine" has nothing to do with being an asshole, which these cretins were. Anyone using their "power" (or presumption thereof) to demean or belittle another person is beyond contempt. "Real Men" treat all people (including women) with respect and decency.

I've always hated identity politics, because it excuses (or explains away) individual loathsome behavior with nonsensical terms. People are responsible for their actions. Velo's tale of events illustrates the proper handling of miscreants. I would only add that beyond putting The Fear of God in such people, we must inculcate a Love of People.
Scaring and intimidating misogynistic jerks is easy. Encouraging empathy and understanding is Herculean.
 

CyberWar

Senior Member
Good piece. I personally prefer brevity, but in this case, I find myself craving a bit more from you. I would consider this a good "pump-primer", for a sociology class discussion.

I am conflicted with the premise of "toxic masculinity". The toxic part is irrefutable, but there is no masculinity demonstrated. In my Universe, being a "man" and "masculine" has nothing to do with being an asshole, which these cretins were. Anyone using their "power" (or presumption thereof) to demean or belittle another person is beyond contempt. "Real Men" treat all people (including women) with respect and decency.

I've always hated identity politics, because it excuses (or explains away) individual loathsome behavior with nonsensical terms. People are responsible for their actions. Velo's tale of events illustrates the proper handling of miscreants. I would only add that beyond putting The Fear of God in such people, we must inculcate a Love of People.
Scaring and intimidating misogynistic jerks is easy. Encouraging empathy and understanding is Herculean.

I wouldn't even go as far as to call that type of people "misogynistic". They are most probably rude and abusive towards everyone they feel can be harassed and bullied without immediate and painful consequence. Furthermore, similar conduct is just as, if not actually more common among women, and if anything, I find female bullies to be way more vicious, persistent and toxic than their male counterparts. Which I think has in no small part to do with women consistently being given the "pussy pass" for transgressions that men would not be let off without a good beating.
 

epimetheus

Friends of WF
The first paragraph is certainly the strongest, actually putting us in an uncomfortable position.

I don't believe there exists such a thing as "toxic masculinity". There's only "being a douchebag", which is quite distinct from and should not be confused with masculinity in any sense.

I find that term poorly-worded (and likely conceived by men-hating feminazis) since it implies that masculinity itself can be "toxic" and therefore a bad thing (as opposed to some men being rude and obnoxious assholes).

So you don't think toxic masculinity exists, yet feminazis is a thing? By your own logic both groups don't exist and there are a just some douchebags.
 

CyberWar

Senior Member
The first paragraph is certainly the strongest, actually putting us in an uncomfortable position.



So you don't think toxic masculinity exists, yet feminazis is a thing? By your own logic both groups don't exist and there are a just some douchebags.

I think that "toxic masculinity" isn't a thing because it refers to a set of behaviours that isn't, nor ever has, been perceived as a sign of masculinity by the majority of society, nor is really exclusive to the male sex. Furthermore, this term is commonly encountered in radical feminist discourse, intentionally and dishonestly conflated with traditional masculinity in a thinly-veiled attempt to discredit it.

The kind of behaviour that is characterized as "toxic masculinity" by some has never been acceptable in mainstream society even in times and places where women have had considerably less rights and opportunities to fight back than in contemporary West. It isn't, nor has ever been, perceived as a sign of manliness and toughness by anyone besides maybe the offending boors themselves, much less so in societies where traditional concepts of masculinity is still strong. It has always been a hallmark of crude and churlish low-class people in Western culture. For this reason alone it is wrong to conflate masculinity with boorish behaviour of some individuals and claim that it somehow makes "toxic masculinity" an actual social phenomenon.

---

Feminazis (more properly known as radical feminists), on the other hand, are ideological extremists - which I think we all can agree exist and are found among followers of just about every ideology there is.
Like all extremists, radical feminists do not shy away from using exaggerations, half-truths, blatant lies and other intellectually-dishonest tactics to propagate their ideas and advance their cause. The aforementioned claim of "toxic masculinity" as a widespread (and by implication socially-accepted) social phenomenon is one such dishonest attempt at manipulation, for while it addresses a real issue of boorish men harassing women, it also attempts to cast it as a widespread and accepted pehnomenon, by implication ties it to the broader concept of masculinity in general, and intentionally ignores the fact that such behaviour neither is nor ever has been considered acceptable by the mainstream society that includes most men.

---

I hope that answers your question satisfactorily.
 

epimetheus

Friends of WF
I think that "toxic masculinity" isn't a thing because it refers to a set of behaviours that isn't, nor ever has, been perceived as a sign of masculinity by the majority of society...

Toxic masculinity is a relatively new term, but it applies to many past and present behaviours - anything from excluding women from education and voting (only available to women in the west in the last ~100 years), the law not recognising marital rape (last few decades) and women needing to physically struggle against assailants for coerced sex to be legally considered rape (last few years, if at all).



Furthermore, this term is commonly encountered in radical feminist discourse, intentionally and dishonestly conflated with traditional masculinity in a thinly-veiled attempt to discredit it.


Why are you obtaining definitions from extremist literature? You wouldn't read Nazi literature to understand Nietzsche, or Jihadist literature to understand Sadaqah, so why would you read feminist extremists? By definition they have extreme ideas about these concepts. Words are defined by their common usage, not their extreme usage.


The statistics show that while technically a minority, a significant minority of ~30% of women in Western countries experiencing domestic violence (just one manifestation of toxic masculinity and perhaps the easiest to measure). That's not dishonest or manipulative, just data.



...masculinity with boorish behaviour of some individuals and claim that it somehow makes "toxic masculinity" an actual social phenomenon.


That's why the modifier toxic is added before masculinity:to distinguish benign concepts of masculinity from malignant ones. No one here is trying to conflate general ideas of masculinity with the toxic ones. Maybe people do in the extremist feminist literature you read, but it's a strawman in this thread as no one made that claim. And there is no harm revisiting ideas of masculinity and femininity: they've always changed throughout time and place. After all, if we still thought like our stone age forebears, we'd still be in the stone age.


.
Feminazis (more properly known as radical feminists), on the other hand, are ideological extremists - which I think we all can agree exist and are found among followers of just about every ideology there is.
Like all extremists, radical feminists do not shy away from using exaggerations, half-truths, blatant lies and other intellectually-dishonest tactics to propagate their ideas and advance their cause.

Some people are douchebags, agreed.


...it also attempts to cast it as a widespread and accepted pehnomenon, by implication ties it to the broader concept of masculinity in general, and intentionally ignores the fact that such behaviour neither is nor ever has been considered acceptable by the mainstream society that includes most men.

The implication to masculinity in general is yours, and maybe a few extremists. By agreeing with their definitions you are validating their position.


Given your narrow definition of toxic masculinity i can see why you think the term need not exist; it is covered by the term misogyny. But the definition of toxic masculinity is much broader, including any cultural norms that are harmful to society or individuals therein. The term was actually first coined by a men's self help group. Toxic masculinity includes misogyny, as illustrated in the OP, but also includes homophobia, unhealthy drinking habits, bullying (physical and psychological). It is an attitude in some strata of society. If you are fortunate enough to never have encountered it, count yourself lucky. It was the norm where i grew up (though it rarely descended to overt violence).
 

notsocordial

Senior Member
I don't believe there exists such a thing as "toxic masculinity". There's only "being a douchebag", which is quite distinct from and should not be confused with masculinity in any sense.

I find that term poorly-worded (and likely conceived by men-hating feminazis) since it implies that masculinity itself can be "toxic" and therefore a bad thing (as opposed to some men being rude and obnoxious assholes).

How is it that "toxic masculinity" is not a thing but "men-hating feminazi" is?
 

notsocordial

Senior Member
epimetheus, thanks for backing me up!

And, CyberWar

Again, my words were not written with hate or malice. Those were directed towards those "douchebags" who have been living under this roof of false pride and ego of carrying the title of "boys" and "men" in their profiles. Why people associate toxic with masculinity is because that is the very word that gives them that sense of superiority. "Masculinity" is a general characteristic of a person but anything, including this, that hampers, hurts or demeans someone in any way becomes toxic at some point and that's exactly what it means.

I am not propagating any idea. This exists and it is real. People do not want to give it recognition because they are scared to take the accountability. That is fine. I am sure this is not a one-article job; it will take time. And, I really hope this idea propagates so deep and broad that there are no more articles written about this.
 

Bard_Daniel

Senior Member
Interesting piece, notsocordial. I think it touches upon many things that are coming more to light and, for that reason, is relevant. I think that this is a significant issue in society and that you approached the issue well-- treating it that only some men suffer from this while others do not. It was an interesting term too, "toxic masculinity"- not one I'd heard of before.

Like I said, interesting!
 

CyberWar

Senior Member
epimetheus, thanks for backing me up!

And,CyberWar

Again, my words were not written with hate or malice. Those were directed towards those "douchebags" who have been living under this roof of false pride and ego of carrying the title of "boys" and "men" in their profiles. Why people associate toxic with masculinity is because that is the very word that gives them that sense of superiority. "Masculinity" is a general characteristic of a person but anything, including this, that hampers, hurts or demeans someone in any way becomes toxic at some point and that's exactly what it means.

I am not propagating any idea. This exists and it is real. People do not want to give it recognition because they are scared to take the accountability. That is fine. I am sure this is not a one-article job; it will take time. And, I really hope this idea propagates so deep and broad that there are no more articles written about this.

I certainly get how bullying and harassment is a real problem, it's just that I'm having a hard time associating it with masculinity in any way, because there just isn't anything masculine about acting like a punk even if the offender mightbelieve there is. How can boorish behaviour possibly be a sign of manliness gone toxic, if nobody besides the boor finds it manly in the first place?
 

Bayview

WF Veterans
I certainly get how bullying and harassment is a real problem, it's just that I'm having a hard time associating it with masculinity in any way, because there just isn't anything masculine about acting like a punk even if the offender mightbelieve there is. How can boorish behaviour possibly be a sign of manliness gone toxic, if nobody besides the boor finds it manly in the first place?

I think the term is based on the idea that boys/men are often socialized in ways that encourage them to misdirect their "manliness" into avenues that harm themselves and others. Boys are often taught not to show sorrow or fear or vulnerability of any sort, and I know a LOT of men who are only comfortable redirecting those negative emotions and expressing them as "strong" anger instead of the "weak" emotions. This hurts them as much, if not more, than it hurts others. The "even if the offender might believe there is" part of your post is pointing to the toxicity. These kids, and men, have somehow been trained to believe something that hurts them and others. Recognizing the training will help them overcome it.

I have no idea what real "masculinity" would even mean. I don't know what "manly" is supposed to mean, beyond stereotypes. But I've definitely seen men who have never learned to express their emotions in a healthy way, and I think we need to keep trying to find ways to help them get better.
 

Kevin

WF Veterans
I think the issue is that it appears that the term is being used ( by some) to smear men in general. You have the term angry white men as well. Those terms are use ( again , by some) to silence or to politically 'neuter' anything a person who is male, or who is a white male has to say.

Anytime you use a term like that which identifies by race, color, sex or creed, it is perceived ( by some)as discrimination, bigotry, hate. You could test this by adding toxic prefix to any group and see how it triggers. Here are some examples: Toxic Females, Toxic religion, toxic people of color, toxic activists...

So while there may be a set of negative behaviors associated with a certain cultural subset, to state such is... problematic. The fact that it is acceptable for certain groups or subsets to be labeled as such, and others not to be, points to an unequal standing or status.

This carries over into other terms, for instance Brown Power vs. White Power. One is considered empowering a group while the other is considered empowering a group to the exception of all others.
 

CyberWar

Senior Member
I think the term is based on the idea that boys/men are often socialized in ways that encourage them to misdirect their "manliness" into avenues that harm themselves and others. Boys are often taught not to show sorrow or fear or vulnerability of any sort, and I know a LOT of men who are only comfortable redirecting those negative emotions and expressing them as "strong" anger instead of the "weak" emotions. This hurts them as much, if not more, than it hurts others. The "even if the offender might believe there is" part of your post is pointing to the toxicity. These kids, and men, have somehow been trained to believe something that hurts them and others. Recognizing the training will help them overcome it.

I have no idea what real "masculinity" would even mean. I don't know what "manly" is supposed to mean, beyond stereotypes. But I've definitely seen men who have never learned to express their emotions in a healthy way, and I think we need to keep trying to find ways to help them get better.

I think a manly man absolutely must have the qualities of a warrior and protector. Courage to do what is right and stand up for oneself, one's family, country and beliefs. Integrity and reliability - always making good on one's word and never giving it idly. Chivalry - acting with courtesy and respect towards everyone, especially elders and women, and standing up for those weaker than himself. Dignity - acting respectfully towards others and demanding the same towards himself. Generosity - willingness to help those in need. Think of a knight, and there's your example of true manliness. I certainly think there's no need to wonder and argue what a proper man should be like when our ancestors already had it figured out for us many centuries back. Rather, those of us who are parents to sons ought to strive and instill them with such virtues, but for that to happen, first and foremost learn them ourselves.

I think the reason there are so many boorish and disrespectful, "toxically masculine" young men these days a lot to do with our overly permissive society. The lot of them probably either never had fathers at all, or had useless deadbeat fathers, and still others only ever saw their fathers leave early in the morning and come back late at night, too tired to talk or care. Having no good example of manliness at home, these young men will take whatever example they have, oftentimes a no-good one. Our society's obsession with individual rights at the expense of responsibilities generally prevents society and authorities from stepping in, and that's why we have so many useless douchebags without anyone to beat some manners in them.

Another reason, also tied to Western society's excessive permissiveness, I think, is the abandonment of the traditional family model and gender roles. How can you expect young men (and women, for that matter) to know what they should be and act like, if the very roles they should assume are questioned, revised and even discarded entirely on an almost weekly basis? How can they possibly know what is right and proper, if even their elders can't seem to agree on anything in that respect? You yourself admitted not knowing what real masculinity is, and I don't blame you, considering how we live in a time when it is completely acceptable for a guy to dress like a woman and demand to be addressed by female pronouns while deluded Marxists are allowed to openly lecture in universities that gender is a social construct. In such a setting, I find absolutely unsurprising that many young men desperately struggle to find their roles as men in society that fails to give them an adequate guidance, and consequently end up picking the worst and basest examples as their role models - oftentimes because they are the only ones they see in contrast with the effeminacy that is now in vogue. None of this would be a problem if only young people were given clear expectations and ideas of how members of their respective sex should act like.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top