The Disturbing Link Between Toxic Masculinity and Internalized Misogyny
Since the Gillette ad was released, the Internet has been a-buzz with “debate” about whether or not masculinity is under attack. Buoyed by basic misunderstanding of human gender dynamics and the wilfully ignorant belief that feminism is out to remove men from the planet, critics were quick with their outrage. “First #MeToo, now this?” pick-me girls and obtuse men both wailed. Supporters swiftly descended with real-world examples of toxic masculinity, including screencaps of yet another Nice Guy™ calling a woman a whore for rejecting him.
First, let’s make something clear. This notion that “toxic masculinity” includes beer, guns, and rock n’ roll is a reflection of ignorant folks’ assumption that (1) those things define masculinity and (2) that anyone is saying these preferences themselves are toxic. People posting photos of themselves in camouflage saying that they’re proud of their “toxic masculinity” are not only missing the point, they’re boomeranging the point into their own faces. Sociologists and feminists alike have been pretty clear that toxic masculinity refers to behaviors that enforce problematic notions of masculinity, such as a predilection for aggression, and the corollary that men who don’t meet these standards are “lesser.” In fact, of all the things gender scientists and feminists complain about, this is definitely the thing that most revolves around concern for men’s welfare. And yet critics continue to insist that feminism wants all men to suffer and die.
Recently, I got a response on one of my pieces from a guy who wondered why social scientists chose “toxic masculinity” as their term for “harmful behaviors.” (1) They didn’t. (2) “Harmful behaviors” is part of the definition of toxic masculinity, not synonymous with masculinity itself. Given that the function of adjectives in relation to nouns is fairly widely known, I have to assume that some people are desperately avoiding the discussion by hanging their hat on a wilful misunderstanding. Here’s how I explained it: iced coffee (adjective + noun) is a type of coffee. You wouldn’t say that scientists coined the term to describe all delicious beverages. You would understand it as a type of coffee, and you wouldn’t assume that when someone says…