Epstein, Trump, War, Climate Crisis, Is Toxic Masculinity to Blame?
Calling it toxic masculinity must be considered very carefully
There is far too much confusion about the term “toxic masculinity.” The greatest misunderstanding is that is assumes masculinity, itself, is toxic. Of course, this is no more true, than, saying that because we hear the phrase “red pill,” all pills must be red.
People are weird about adjectives
However, people are even more weird about perceived threats to the very idea of masculinity, and cultural insecurity around gender roles, and equality. In an Atlantic article last February, one gem that could be gleaned was this:
Amid this heated discourse, newspaper and magazine articles have blamed toxic masculinity for rape, murder, mass shootings, gang violence, online trolling, climate change, Brexit, and the election of Donald Trump.
It depends entirely upon who is asking, and who answers, as to whether we can blame toxic masculinity for things like societal violence, domination of the planet and fossil fuel pollution — which has given us the climate and extinction crisis. We can even pin entire movements such as Brexit, on powerful men behaving badly. Deeper analysis always reveals an in-group and out-group mentality that often rears its sexist, and/or racist, head, when masculinity is discussed.
Clearly, that part of masculinity which allows such problems to arise is toxic for women, but also for men, and for society as a whole.
What men can do: Provide. Protect. Procreate.
However, the term is so misunderstood as to become useless. According to sociologists Wall and Kristjanson, (2011) our particular masculinity gender rules are a psychological and sociological construct, not a biological one. This does not say, (indeed NO scientists do say), that biology plays no role in what makes a man or a woman. It simply addresses the fact that what we do teach our children is malleable, and not fixed in stone. Some boys learn to be creeps. Others learn that the traditional masculine virtues, described by the three P’s: Provide, Protect, Procreate, influence everything about our culture. In addition to the P’s, let’s consider a C. Co-create, rather than just procreate, all the babies in the world from this point forward, not just as dads, but as community team players.
That is, men should be embraced and encouraged, as stay at home dads, nurturers, and co-creators of a nicer world.Such traits are best practiced with a view that sees females as equally deserving of respect, and liberty.
The second kind of masculinity, I call magnificent masculinity. How do we end up with such monstrous misogyny, how do we create the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump, or Jeffrey Epstein? I think the answer is that, yes, our non-intervention to teach these powerful men clear, and direct, respect for woman, causes severe consequences to all society. According to most researchers, the intervention would have to take place before the age of six. And, even after such intervention, older male people can be influenced by a rising tide of awareness about everyday decency.
Note, too, that Al Franken, Aziz Ansari, and Joe Biden, are also lumped together as examples of toxic masculinity. That is because no person exists outside of societal influence. But, the waters get muddy, and downright divisive, when people assume that predatory rape of children should be in the same sentence as impolite, personal space invasion.
My proposal is that we do not discard the term “toxic masculinity,” but that we clearly put forth an alternative of “magnificent masculinity” that men can grasp. Men, if they don’t want their wives and daughters to fall into the clutches of such men as Harvey Weinstein, or Jeffrey Epstein, can embrace their own male magnificence. They could move on that ‘like a bitch’ in the terminology of one particularly, toxic role model.
What about the whole damn world?
Climate crisis is being blamed on the old model of dominance and conquest that is linked to toxic masculinity. Well, that’s because there clearly is a problem with leaders who assert their power and wealth to indicate not only that they are superior to women, but that they are superior to whole classes of people, subjugated men and women, whole nations, and tribes, and certainly over the Earth too, which promises temporary wealth for the most rapacious among us.
This model is being challenged as never before in human history. And, curiously, the men who have preached the gospel to mostly deaf ears, are not presently as successful as Greta Thunberg, Alexander Casio Cortez, and the leaders of Youth for Climate, — young girls — in Europe.
I think this is not just coincidence, although the old guard, from John Muir, to Al Gore and James Hansen, to Bernie Sanders, et. al, have almost always been not just older, but whiter, and male.
In my mind, “It takes a man-child to raze a global village.” No one demonstrates this truth more accurately than the one ‘some are saying’ is Predator Trump. His popularity, at least a good deal of it, comes from those who are sick of being told they are toxic, or racist, or sexist, or blameworthy.
The most necessary trick of the millennium, is to get those people on board spaceship Earth so they can use magnificent masculinity, and fabulous femininity, to fix this dump.
Once aboard the fair wind, compassion ship, we can steer a better course towards equality.
The idea of toxic masculinity did not come from angry feminists
If you think feminists are angry, you are right. If you think they believe the world is still churning out the Epsteins, nasty coaches, and pedophile priests, you are right. If you think, as Oprah, and the whole #Metoo movement has declared, that “time’s up.” You are right.
You are right, too, that what we call political correctness and snow-flakery turns off many people.
But given all that, the seemingly judgmental accusation of toxic masculinity did not originate with angry feminists, but with Michael Kimmel, a psychologist who first used the phrase “toxic masculinity” in a 2004 paper.
The trouble is, that millions of women almost instantly nod knowingly, and understand completely, to what it refers. We all have lifetimes of examples, from violent, kindergarten booger flicking boys, to the charges made against Brett Kavanaugh and Predator Trump.
What to do, and how to take it
When you hear the term toxic masculinity, don’t take it personally. It is meant to describe aspects of our global cultures that identify destructive behaviors that tend to be perpetrated because ‘bad boys’ are not taught to be ‘good boys.’
Remember that the word “toxic” is in fact, an adjective. It describes just one kind of masculinity, albeit the annoying one. Embrace the idea of magnificent masculinity for all the potential Prince Charmings in the world that can be your kids, students, relatives, friend, and neighbors.
The persistence of myths that mess up meanings
Some other terminology that is divisive should be thought upon more deeply. The so-called “myth” of rape culture, the implicit unfairness of “patriarchy,” the taint of racism and sexism that comes with the trampling of women’s access to reproductive healthcare, when women are judged with slut shaming while male partners amass very little blame for ejaculation.
Then, there is the disputed, ‘mythical’ pay gap, and education gap. There are reasons why all of these terms are disputed. Knowing the facts helps a lot. For example, the myth of a non-credible victim of assault persists because all of us were taught from day one that somehow, a woman always holds part of the responsibility for unsolicited , harassment, and, or, sex. It also persists because most victims do not report. Why would they?
That, ‘One in five women will be assaulted in their lives’ is disputed, on one side many of us know it’s higher (unreported) and on the other side, people do not see forced kissing, or groping, as assault.
Victim blaming is the new slut shaming. Women, know the trouble they will encounter if they do. As to the ‘myth’ about pay gaps, and education gaps, Yes, women do earn less when they work part time more often, since they typically support the male role of breadwinner. Also, because they are usually the only ones allowed paid parental leave. They also go to college because they know a degree is the only way better paying jobs will be more accessible to them. Violent jobs are often cited as proof that men have it worse than women, but woman want to be police officers, soldiers, roofers, loggers, truckers, and fire fighters, and more. They are just discouraged from being ones.
As too dangerous occupations, the occupations used to show how men are more victimized are considered “legitimate.” But most unpaid, or work for tips work, is not considered so. Waitresses, strippers, sex workers, trafficked women, and unpaid home makers, and care-givers, not only are paid less than their male counterparts, many of them are in very dangerous occupations. They will never be represented in the victim statistics.
Therefore the pay gap should be called the “earnings gap.” The truth is women world wide do most of the work and earn little to nothing. It is not part of the data, just as most victims of domestic violence don’t report because they want the violence to end, not the partnership.