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Toxic Masculinity is not about masculinity

It is not about anything to do with maleness. Bits will not fall off if men stop being toxic.

It’s about status. Being toxic is the mark of high status. Being vulnerable or kind or nobody or pleasing is “not being a man.” Fighting off fifty storm troopers singlehanded while having a bunch of faceless naked women in the background gets you the unattainable Super Man card.

It’s all about the man card. It’s all about the social definition of being a man because it’s all about status. Biology has nothing to do with status. Status is 100% social. Playing the man card is not about being a man [1].

That’s good news and bad news.

It’s good news because if we really had to change what men are born with, something like preventing the development of testes, it would be impossible.

It’s bad news because changing people’s desire for social status is much harder than changing biological reality. It is physically possible, unlike ordering up a different biology, but it’s like pulling teeth without anesthetic.

However, and this is the point (I do have a point), if we understand what we’re actually trying to do when curing “toxic masculinity,” our efforts can apply to the real problem instead of the wrong one.

The problem is not maleness. The problem is the social definition of masculinity.

So, sure, it’s useful for men to stop toxic behavior. But that’s never going to stop the crap from regenerating bigger and worser than ever.

To cure toxic masculinity we have to stop having a top caste of men. We have to stop admiring it. It has to stop being in ads. It has to stop being in movies and videos and music and news programs and clothes and the pushing of a million products to get men to spend money to bolster their man cards. (Yes, the economy would crash.)

It means men would get 50% of the money and assets for 50% of the work instead of, as now, 90% of the benefits for 30% of the work. It means women would be 50% of government at all levels, and 50% of police and of the military at all levels. And … well, you get the picture.

There’s a lot of work to do. A lot more than men stopping their current bad behavior. A lot less than ending maleness.

6 Comments (Open | Close)

6 Comments To "Toxic Masculinity is not about masculinity"

#1 Comment By Pdxpat On 27 Oct, 2017 @ 08:43

All of the foregoing just to say I’ve very glad this blog is still here.

Your clear sighted view of the male caste system is especially needed on the Internet, especially now.

(Could you just delete the first two comments under *nerd*? Editing changes are sort of embarrassing when they show up – one reason I -love- the preview feature here. Thank you!)

#2 Comment By quixote On 27 Oct, 2017 @ 16:35

So sorry you had trouble, Pdxpat! And there I was thinking nobody cared :D. In all seriousness, thanks for the kind words. I wish the understanding of what’s actually wrong could become everybody’s starting point. We could all be deconstructing toxic man cards then. But one thing I’ve learned is that any sentence which starts, “If we all just …” ain’t gonna happen. Everybody working together is like all your molecules lining up at once and enabling levitation. Or that’s how it feels today. (Widespread condition. Technical name: Muellerosis.)

#3 Comment By Pdxpat On 27 Oct, 2017 @ 20:26

Thankee kindly for the edits, Quixote. I’m very glad to have broken through. I don’t know if it’s WordPress getting nasty all over sudden (as Pogo would say), or just that unlucky constellation of circumstances I’m in.

I -do- know that Twitter has suddenly put in place all sorts of safeguards against robots scraping their site (came across that on a technical website by accident while researching “hate WordPress”), but don’t know about WP.

I like your molecules analogy. It really does seem to be that hard. But I desperately hope that after so many outrages, the lightening storm that made 2008 an inevitable Dem sweep will happen much sooner. Talking to random fed-up people here seems more and more to point to that.

#4 Comment By NW Luna On 27 Nov, 2017 @ 12:42

The problem is not maleness. The problem is the social definition of masculinity.

“Social definition” is key. There are many attributes considered male by the current society yet have no inherent connection to maleness.

Thinks fashion is silly? Would rather go to a museum than go shopping? Doesn’t care for chocolate? One of the first to speak up in classes or meetings? Proud of scars from rock climbing? Doesn’t feel a need or desire to have children? Goes off-trail in wilderness by self for several days with map and compass and loves it, never mind the scratched legs? Never oooohed over Princess Di? That’s me, and I have female anatomy. There are also plenty of “male” attributes which I do not have. I grew up with little television-watching, had parents who read voraciously, and so missed out on much of the contemporary socialization of females. Sometimes I feel like an outcast among other women but I wouldn’t change.

#5 Comment By quixote On 28 Nov, 2017 @ 21:06

Luna, you grew up without TV too??! In a bookish household? Next you’re going to tell me you also never could quite see what all the other kids in school were getting into group flaps about!

Seriously. That’s me too. (Although I do oooh over Diana. She and Nichelle Nicholls who played Uhura on Star Trek are my top two stunning beauties of all time.)

I think not having marinated in television really does make it a lot easier to see the social myths/definitions/BS for what they are.

#6 Comment By quixote On 12 Dec, 2017 @ 09:11