I agree that being careful with language is key, and respectful dialogue is the way to progress. But as an academic in the social sciences, I have no qualms with the phrase “toxic masculinity” and it’s certainly not meant to be synonymous with “harmful behaviors.” It’s literally using an adjective to describe a noun, suggesting that some masculinity is toxic but some is not (and some femininity is toxic and some is not). Just like if I said “iced coffee,” you wouldn’t think I’m saying all coffee is iced, or that people use that to refer to all delicious beverages.

Bullying also involves a power imbalance, repeated behaviors, and an intent to harm; I certainly don’t want my essay to suggest that any concept that makes people uncomfortable is inherently bullying. Bullying requires an agent. So as I said in the essay, calling someone out has legitimate uses; callout culture, however, encourages a set of behaviors that are often executed in a bullying way, yes.

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