Toxic masculinity isn’t real. I believe anyone who thinks it is real is a science denier.
When I went to school, I learned about things that were real. Whether it was the hard sciences or the social sciences, there was a process to uncovering truth that needed to be followed. You weren’t allowed to make things up.
Toxic masculinity, however, is a made-up concept.
I know what you’re thinking. What about the fact that men commit most homicides? Or are rapists? Or serial killers? Wait…what does that have to do with masculinity? Shouldn’t we consider cause and effect? What about masculinity would motivate men to murder? Does murder mean masculinity became toxic in that person? Or that they made a bad decision for a number of reasons? And why doesn’t toxic femininity exist?
You see, men are naturally more aggressive, prone to violence, interested in fighting, and more disagreeable than women. Is this a bad thing? Are men not allowed to be aggressive?
And if aggression and violence are always considered “toxic,” then what’s actually toxic about them?
In biology, toxicity is defined as a dose of a drug, or any substance that produces ill effects in an organism. Consider a poisonous substance, like cyanide. It is poisonous because at low concentrations it can destroy tissue. However, it’s not always toxic. That depends on the dose. In chemistry, these doses are defined as therapeutic doses, or lethal doses. The LD50, for example, is the dose of a substance which will kill 50% of the organism population being tested (like lab rats).
Other substances, like medications, are also toxic, depending on the dose. But at other doses, they are therapeutic—meaning, that’s the dose at which they are considered a “medication.” Tylenol, for instance, is a popular antipyretic (fever-lowering) medication. But it’s also a common way to commit suicide. It is also the most common cause of acute liver failure. Therefore, toxic masculinity, to me, sounds like the dose at which masculinity becomes toxic. So what is that dose? And what, first of all, is masculinity?
It seems as if the same people invoking toxic masculinity are the same people suggesting that the genders ought to be seen as equal in every way.
If the genders are equal, and if women can do anything men can do, then why would masculinity be any different from femininity? For example, boys outscore girls in math at the highest levels of ability. Perhaps this stems from natural differences created by testosterone on the brain. Women, on the other hand, possess a greater ability to distinguish facial expressions and emotions than men.
Can we force boys to be as good as girls at recognizing emotions? Or are these differences something we are born with and must harness to our advantage? In my experience, many feminists ignore what science has to say about the differences between men and women. Corporations profit off the movement by selling a message to girls that they can be strong and independent in the ways men are.
It’s a woman’s world today, and men are being told to suppress their natural instincts.
This is what Gillette told us when they featured an advertisement on toxic masculinity, where they portrayed approaching women on the street as a crime that must be stopped, as if this would further protect the women. What were they trying to say? That approaching a woman is a form of sexual harassment? Because that doesn’t meet the most liberal definition of the term. Later, they showed a father intervening when two boys were wrestling. The boys were told to stop their natural behavior because wrestling is apparently harmful. Perhaps it’s a form of “oppression,” a cause that social justice activists are passionate about ending.
If these actions are toxic, it should imply that the organism with excessive masculinity will suffer.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case. As the tremendous backlash to the advertisement indicated, men aren’t suffering from toxic masculinity. They’re suffering from being told that their natural behaviors are criminal. It seems as if the people who are labeling masculinity as toxic are the ones suffering.
I believe these people have one thing in common. Their beliefs come in a package, and include “social justice,” LGBTQ rights, fighting white supremacy, and parading against rape culture. They all certainly hate President Donald Trump. I’m not sure how much consideration is given to each of these as separate causes before there’s buy-in to the whole package.
For masculinity to truly be toxic according to a biological definition of the term, the man harboring it would have to suffer. The only instance I can think of where masculinity becomes toxic is in users of anabolic steroids. Here, we can pinpoint the source of their excess “masculinity.” The hormones they are taking cause exaggerated growth of muscle tissue in response to weight training, further highlighting a difference between men and women. However, over time, their bodies suffer. Long-term steroid users experience an impairment in normal heart function and have smaller and thinner brains than non-steroid users.
Wrestling, on the other hand, and learning how to approach women give men joy. Boys have been found to require more physical activity than girls in schools, otherwise their performance suffers. Telling them to sit down and behave suppresses their nature, which can only harm them. Rough-and-tumble play, a behavior seen more often in boys, or in girls with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (a condition where the adrenal gland produces excessive testosterone), is cathartic to us. Let boys be boys. Otherwise, our lack of masculinity, rather than an excess of it, will become toxic.