The failure of current culture to define the term “toxic masculinity” (as mentioned in the recent Gillette ad) is a serious problem. Does it mean a subset of masculinity is toxic? Or, does it mean masculinity itself is toxic?
If masculinity itself is toxic (as some people claim is the point of the recent American Psychological Association guidelines) there is no motivation for men to change anything about themselves. “I was born this way!” they might retort. In that case (according to Leftist logic) perhaps men deserve toleration, acceptance and accommodation in the same way sexual minorities have recently been championed by the general culture. There are more women, so men are the sexual minority after all.
If toxic masculinity is only an undesirable kind of masculinity, then we need to ask: what does good masculinity look like? But so far our culture’s answer seems to be: it looks like femininity, which is not very inspiring for most men.
Furthermore, the notion of toxic masculinity suggests the possibility of toxic femininity, in which case there is no need to target men and boys specifically as uniquely bad individuals. It’s like we are saying: “Whatever is good in you, boys, you share with females, and whatever is bad in you, boys, is just you.”
If a similar Gillette ad had been directed toward our daughters, maybe we could see how un-motivating this line of reasoning is: “Ladies, some of you are ok. A good many of you are failing. ALL of you could do better. Oh, and please buy our razors.” Men don’t like being condescended to, manipulated, and having assumptions made about them based on their sex. Men and boys, like women and girls, don’t respond positively to sexism (defined here as “prejudice, stereotyping or discrimination based on sex”).
Male bullying, male violence and male sexual sins cannot be isolated as only the responsibility of males. For instance, increasingly, women raise boys without fathers. If gender is a social construct, as the radical left claims, and children are increasingly raised by single women (40 percent of all births in the US are to single mothers), and women dominate child care, education, medical, counseling, and social work fields, then men cannot be entirely blamed for negative outcomes with sons who are being raised entirely by women, and that they may not even be allowed to see.
Female misbehavior can be just as devastating as men’s. Our honest experience should teach us that women are capable of being unjust, dishonest, and quite aggressive, (though usually socially instead of physically). However, the recent move to allow women to abort their own children up to the age of birth in New York State should teach us that both men and women are capable of devastating atrocities toward even the weakest and most vulnerable.
At one time, feminists seemed to teach that with the challenges we face, we can’t afford to alienate or devalue one half of the human race. Maybe they should revisit that idea?