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What is "Toxic Masculinity"

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by Nickw, Nov 1, 2019.

  1. Nickw

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    I hear this term a lot and I don't really know what it means all the time. I can see guys I have met that display traits that I would consider "toxic". The way some guys dominate women or won't allow any displays of emotions etc.

    But, when it comes down to "acting gay", I am not sure I understand the nuances. My boyfriend and I had a long talk last night about growing up in a society where being gay was not allowed. But, one of the things that kept both of us from recognizing our sexuality sooner was that we would see the "out and proud" gays and we both felt they were different than we were. So, we couldn't be gay...right? This plagued me for years being a bisexual. Since I wasn't the least bit Elton John like, I considered my m2m attractions to be a fetish. It was easier to dismiss them as unimportant since flamboyant or campy would never describe me. Although I am not afraid to hug my buddies or cry in public and I never am dismissive or domineering of women. I'm just masculine and that's who I am. I like to get very physical, hate fashion, hate theater, hate pop culture, I'm unshaven and I don't tuck my shirt in. I might find myself under a car changing the oil. And, I feel it is a man's duty to protect women.

    So. When does it cross the line. Is it toxic for me to look in the mirror and be proud of my rugged looks? Am I supposed to have a feminine side that I am hiding? Cause, I just don't feel it. Certainly, sex with a man, even when I am the receptive one, never makes me feel feminine. If anything, I find gay sex to be an expression of masculinity, especially, since neither of us is submissive and it is about raw male power.

    I'm interested in learning more about this and would appreciate any thoughts.
     
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  2. Lin1

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    Toxic masculinity means thinking being male should be expressed in a very specific way and everyone straying from that is (derogatory terms and) not manly enough.


    Telling guys they can’t cry and need to toughen up if they are men is toxic masculinity.

    Telling a boy he can’t wear pink because it’s a « girl’s color » is toxic masculinity.

    Calling a guy who enjoy things that are not the typical (ballet over football for example) and calling them derogatory names and telling them they shouldn’t as it’s not what « real men » like is toxic masculinity.

    Thinking that a feminine guy is automatically gay is toxic masculinity.

    Thinking a masculine guy can’t be gay is toxic masculinity.

    Everything that reduces men to having to be the typical alpha jock type to be « real men » is toxic masculinity.

    If you (talking in general here) think you are not manly enough just because you are you and not the « typical » guy, you probably have been a victim of masculine toxicity and your low-self esteem is the direct product of toxic masculinity.

    If you think « real men » are a thing, you (again general talking here) you probably grew up surrounded by toxic masculinity (we all do) and are a by-product if that and reproducing what you have learned, perpetuating toxic masculinity.

    In other words, toxic masculinity is everywhere and the divide between types such as bears and more “feminine” gay men in the LGBTQ+ community is also a produce of toxic masculinity.
     
    #2 Lin1, Nov 1, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019
  3. Lin1

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    You are not wrong to like who are but yes your post is filled with clichés about what you think “men” are and what you assumed/(still assume?) “gay men” were/are.
    The fact that you thought gay men were only the flamboyant type and that because you were more « manly » in your tastes means that you and your boyfriend couldn’t potentially be gay. Means that you have been a victim of toxic masculinity and that it has influenced your definition of men and what the word « man » represents.

    Not working under the influence of toxic masculinity doesn’t mean being « feminine » or embracing your « feminine side »

    (by the way the fact that everything « negative » in the eye of a « man » such as crying, liking musicals, being submissive is seen as «feminine» is problematic in itself. And 100% toxic masculinity)

    It’s about being you and if you are born with a penis and/or identify as male then you are a man and manly enough. Regardless of if you cry, submit to your sexual partners, wear heels and sequin pink dress while exposing your shaven legs. Because a real man is whoever identify as male. Regardless of interest, frequence of crying, interest in sports, sexuality, clothing etc...

    Once you stop comparing yourself to other gay men flamboyant or not and accept that you are both manly (due to being males) then you step away from toxic masculinity. Until then you are just hurting your own community.
     
    #3 Lin1, Nov 1, 2019
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  4. OnTheHighway

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    Exposure to the heteronormative script includes within it Toxic Masculinity. Exposure to masculine stereotypes to the extent our true self do not fit the mold as we are socialized creates shame. This shame generates internalized homophobia.

    I do not personally believe in the construct that we all have a masculine and/or feminine “side” to us. I believe we are who we are but the heteronormative script seeks to place labels on everyone and every characteristic. So girls are supposed to be feminine and guys are supposed to be masculine.

    As a side note, I have been studying Spanish for the past year. Talk about a language built on stereotypes! A word ending in “a” is feminine and a word ending in “o” is masculine. Who made this stuff up?? Hahaha Hahaha
    .
    I am neither masculine nor feminine. I am who I am. I have personality characteristics that society would deem to be masculine and I have personality characteristics that society would deem to be feminine. I personally have no idea how to differentiate between the two other than when someone sees a specific characteristic and calls me out for being either masculine or feminine based on how such characteristic fits into the heteronormative script.

    I was chatting with a straight Latin friend of mine. Latin culture which includes high doses of toxic masculinity. And he asked what role I take on during sex. I told him I am versatile and sometimes I am the top and sometimes I am the bottom. His response to me was “wow, you can be both the guy and the girl?” I had to educate him a bit on the proper way to view gay sex. I had not heard it put that way in a long long time. LOL
     
    #4 OnTheHighway, Nov 2, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2019
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  5. I'mStillStanding

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    Some really good points have been made here, but I did want to point out one thing.
    I feel this is a byproduct of toxic masculinity. I mean the idea that women need men to protect them in itself can lead to all sorts of places. It sets this idea that a women who don’t need protecting are threatening and they tend to be targeted with words like aggressive, rude, volatile, etc. When in fact she just is normal, strong and independent. Then the for some of the other women, they fall into the damsels in distress role so they can be saved by men to make men feel like the hero and this sets up horrible dynamics. Women constantly having to feed men’s ego all because the ideas that men are smarter, stronger, more capable, etc. leads into these roles of females in constant need of male saviors rescuing them.

    Honestly there’s a lot about our society structure that is influenced by toxic masculinity. A person being hyper masculine and liking the things that are “traditionally” viewed as masculine interests isn’t bad. It’s seeing someone less than who isn’t masculine and doesn’t like the same things no matter the gender. That some how their lack of masculinity makes them less in some way, an you more superior. That’s the toxic part.

    *side note:
    People always talk about flamboyant or campy gays and how they don’t represent them. I totally get this... where I am at it seems that there isn’t a lot campy flamboyant gays. But they do represent me... I’ve always been that way though, since I was a little kid. Even when I was “straight” I was campy. So much so my ex called me her gay husband. It’s just me, who I am. It makes me nervous at times when people say things about the “stereotypical” gay guy because I lived my life feeling out of place and now I’m like hell... am I gonna have to feel out of place now that I’m out too? I will say though, it’s like a southern accent (I am in the south) there is nothing that gets under my skin faster than someone faking it. Maybe that’s what turns people off the most I don’t know. Sorry for the ramble!
     
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  6. Nickw

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    Thank you for your thoughts on this. One comment that I found especially interesting is your suggestion that I stop comparing myself to flamboyant gay men. This was definitely something that has bothered me my whole life. But, now, both my boyfriend and I are feeling this from the other direction. We were at an LGBT event the other day and a guy came up to my boyfriend and asked if he was gay and going to come out. He has been out for 10 years. He told the guy he was and was scolded for not "being proud of who he was".

    This has stimulated a lot of conversations between the two of us about the subject. We are both very similar in our tastes of activities. Both of us do not care for a lot of " gender specific...stereotypically speaking...activities. We both hate that is is assumed we have a "sports team" we follow...we both dislike watching any sports. On the other hand we also really hate it when we are with other gay men and it assumed we will do something like go clothes shopping. The stereotypes are what I really dislike.

    Linning. Your points give me a lot to think about. Even though I might not do things because I believe I need to to be masculine. I still define them. Which means I need to work on it. FWIW, I enjoy and admire Elton John and his style and do attend events that honor and respect the more flamboyant sides of gay culture. If there are any drag shows in the local area, I always buy tickets for the charity even though I don't relate, even in a bit, to the performers. And, to be sure, I do not avoid ANY person, based on how they present themselves. If I did, I couldn't attend any family events! I didn't mean to present more traditionally feminine activities as negatives...only that they are not me.
     
  7. Nickw

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    I agree with what you wrote.
     
    #7 Nickw, Nov 2, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2019
  8. Nickw

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    @I'mStillStanding

    I wanted to add something on protecting women. My father taught me that it was my responsibility to protect anyone who is threatened who is physically weaker than I am. Just because of size, this means women in a lot of cases. But, my sister's partner could have kicked my butt on any particular day and my wife makes double my income. So, it is not about respecting women. I don't feel every man needs to step forward and be the one who will take the hit if the group is threatened. But, I feel I do. It was so automatic when my wife was threatened once by a mountain lion even though the lion could have just as easily taken me as her (the lion ran off and nothing happened BTW...not as dramatic as it sounds) It's just that my reaction was to be "the man". And, this reaction may be seated in toxic masculinity. Thing is. I am proud of that part of my personality...bragging about it here. So, I know I suffer from it.
     
  9. I'mStillStanding

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    I totally get what you’re saying. I was taught the same thing. To stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves no matter the gender. This was lessons by both my mom and step dad. I guess mom made sure it was not a “man up” kinda lesson because my sister is the same (she’s tiny though lol). Some bullies were being mean at a beauty pageant she had won the year before so she had to crown at. She was dragged out by the leaders after she was caught taking her shoes off and her earrings out about to go in on the girls being mean.... she pulled it together and crowned the winner still lol My point being a bad ass who stands up to the bully, the mountain line, or what ever isn’t being “the man” it’s being the bad ass person who’s gonna do what ever to help those around them.

    I wanna say for real I’m not judging at all... just offering another perspective. My bio dad and his family are the poster guys for toxic masculinity and they love it... my mom didn’t want my brother and myself growing up like that so we learned to cook, sow, do laundry, flower arranging, etc. all the things most boys didn’t do at all. It was her effort in showing us it’s not a woman’s role to do that and a man’s role to do the other. So we kinda view things differently. He’s a masculine guy, with a few feminine traits lol, but mainly masculine. I’ve always been feminine so...

    Also a group of bullies in high school is not the same as a mountain line I know hahahahaha just the image of her taking her earrings out still makes me laugh... she was gonna tear them up and she had never even been in a fight but they had hit some nerve and it was over lol...
     
  10. Lin1

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    @Nickw I am glad you feel, you have learned something and I have given things to think about but I do think you are going to have to analyze A LOT of the language you use, because it’s still very toxic language.

    It’s wrong for gay men (as for anybody else) to stereotype other gay men and their interest and want to force them into fitting a stereotype under the pretense that it’s the only way to be gay (again it’s toxic masculinity), it’s also wrong to look down on gay men who stray from what society consider “male” interests and feel like you are being inclusive by not being fully repelled by it yet feeling a certain sense of superiority for not being them. (Comes across a little this way, I am afraid).

    Also, there is not a thing such as “traditionally feminine activities.” There just isn’t.

    If you look at History (and I mean pre- Jesus Christ history and Antique Greece era and following), you will see that “typically feminine” activities were in fact “male activities”.

    theater and Opera was men-only meaning, men would wear dresses and sing and play female characters, pink and stockings was pretty common to see on a man (and blue on a woman!), it was encouraged to develop gay behaviors due to male being superior and feeling like connecting to men in all ways could only be beneficial. One of the strongest army in Antique Greece was actually a “gay army” because they realized that people fight harder when they see their loved one get hurt and the fight is about keeping them both alive. Hence people being encouraged to fall in love with fellow soldiers.


    A lot of the things you deem “female”, and a lot of the association between “gay” and “feminine” and “feminine” with “weak” are toxic masculinity and based on erasure of history that doesn’t suit this narrative (hence why people killed Joan of Arc instead of celebrating her) and why you most likely haven’t heard of half of the things I have just mentioned.

    Women aren’t weak and don’t need protecting. Men strength literally come from women (would you be around if it wasn’t for a woman having the strength to carry you and then go through having her inside (and potentially outsides) torn apart to give birth to you? Didn’t think so). Saying or even believing that women are weaker and need protecting and feeling proud to see women as weaker and be the protector is incredibly sexist and incredibly toxic.

    I suggest you watch the documentaries “women at war” about the role of women during both wars and how they are different ways to be strong and how, often women were much stronger than men, yet received no recognition and were forced into submission again as soon as the wars ended.

    I can guarantee that in your life, you have most likely been protected from harm by a woman (starting by your mother) more times than you have protected a woman from harm (there is so many ways to get harmed yet men only focus on one, the one they are most likely to be able to deal with and “fix”).

    it’s easy to acknowledge the one time a man (or you) helped a woman, much harder to see the constant sacrifice most women do for men. (A quick comparison of what your mother most likely had to give up for you and the mental and physical strength it takes vs your father, should do the trick).

    Often time, men get to be “strong” because women do everything else.


    I personally hate it when guys get involve because they think they could deal with a situation better than I do. If I need help, I will ask. If not, assume I don’t. I survive the other 364 days of the year without a chaperone so assume I can defend myself or find clever ways to deal with a tricky situation.
     
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  11. Nickw

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    Gosh Linning

    I think I might be presenting a view of women that is not what I feel at all! my mom is, definitely, a stronger person than my dad. And, my wife is a stronger person than I am in everything except physical strength. And, I rock climb and bike with women who are much stronger physically than I am.

    But, I will see a woman who is struggling in one way or another and feel that, as a man, it is my responsibility to help her out. An example is my wife bringing her windsurfing gear into shore in the breaking waves. No matter how tired I am from my session, I will go in and help her in...without her asking.

    I have been on mountainsides in very bad weather when we were worried we might not make it if the weather didn't clear. I sheltered my wife at my expense. True that I love her...but, I also felt, deep down, that I am supposed to do that because that is what a "man" does. And, the guy who leaves a woman on the mountain to die is someone I would feel "superior" to. The woman who leaves the man I would give a pass on. So, that sorta proves your point.

    As far as feeling superior to other men who do "softer" activities. I guess that's true to some extent. It has nothing to do with their sexuality though. I'm sorta an elitist about some things. What I hate though, and my gay climbing friends will hate, is that people are surprised that a gay man would do those things.

    I was guilty of the same growing up. I saw myself being this guy who had the ability to excel at adrenaline activities so I wasn't gay regardless
    of m2m attractions.

    I know better now. But, I also know that I attach a lot of my self esteem to these activities. When my wife teases me about turning my ski poles in for knitting needles, it goes way deeper than it should.

    I'm understanding this is a form of toxic masculinity even though I sorta like knitting.
     
  12. Lin1

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    It's good you acknowledge that you have ways of thinking about certain things/people that are not ideal and need challenging/to change (we all do).

    Now you know what toxic masculinity is and how it plays a part in your life and how you perceive people, the question is, how do you plan to tackle it and what are you planning to do about it?
     
  13. Nickw

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    Linning

    I don't have an answer for this. There are some things I cannot/will not change about the way I relate to other people. I don't see myself changing in the way I feel about protecting my wife, and my boyfriend, and feeling like this is part of being a man. I get its part of being a human, but I also know I feel it is tied to my self worth as a man. I can, understand how I learned this. But, I, don't really think it is possible to change because I like the way it makes me feel and both my wife and boyfriend want that from me.

    The other things about not worrying about what others think is an ongoing process that takes time. Being in a gay family, I have learned over time to accept anybody for who they are. I don't really judge others based on sexual stereotyping. For some reason, we have a very high percentage of gay and lesbian friends. Most don't even know my orientation although they might have guessed by now. Discussing sexuality is not part of our usual dialogue.

    I'm a lot harder on myself. I lead a very atypical life that is complicated by my sexuality. I have always hated to be told how to act. And, even more so, I hate to follow a scripted path. So, if someone would learn I am bisexual and apply their own definition of what that means...especially in regards to my "manhood", I would be very sensitive about it.

    So, I tend to feel the toxic masculinity that causes these feelings are something that I bear and not something that hurts the way I relate to others. I am a giver in all my relationships. So, I'm not used to wanting or needing something, such as approval or validation. It's all on me and I am a generally happy person. I guess I am accepting of others but know I might not be accepted in return and that's just way it is.

    I know the only way to grow out of this is to just come out to world. But, in my case this just seems like it would be a burden on many of my friends and family.
     
  14. Contented

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    For me toxic masculinity included having to pretend to like “masculine” activities and attitudes that I really didn’t feel. I hated sports but participated, trash talked about homos while feeling attraction to other guys, all the usual macho BS. Dated girls and later women but never felt any real connection however talk about them constantly. All to mask that underneath it I wanted to be with another guy. For many years I wanted to expose my inner more feminine (softer) self but was petrified to do so. Found men in ballet so sexy and desirable but would rather die than admit it. All that is part of my definition of toxicity.
     
  15. Nickw

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    @Contented

    What you describe is more what I thought was toxic masculinity and I think it certainly is. I have to say that I never pretended to be more masculine...consciously.

    My mom taught me to never make fun of someone for who they are. So, I never really got into gay bashing. I mean my friends would say things like "that's pretty gay" and then I would grab their butts and say "no this is gay and I think you like it". So, I guess in a way we were.

    But, I was with those same guys when a gay couple was being harassed outside a bar back in the eighties and we all pretended to be gay and threatened the bullies if they didn't back off.

    I guess that's not really different...sigh.
     
  16. musicteach

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    There's nothing with being masculine. Just as there's nothing wrong with naturally being the burly man type. I would say the line isn't a black and white thing (because personally I think it's a bit of a buzz word but that's a separate conversation). But rather it's the idea that boys can't like traditionally girly things because they're boys. For instance, if a boy is playing with a doll, telling them "no, don't do that, boys don't play with dolls". It's the idea that we're teaching boys they can't have a feminine side, or like traditionally girly things just for the simple fact that they're boys. It's cute for girls to be Tom boys but it's an insult to nature for boys to be girly.
     
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  17. johndeere3020

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    Pride isn't about wrapping yourself in the colors for everyone. Pride can be what you feel for yourself on the inside. Especially for some of us guys that are a little older, we maybe have more problems with the idea of what it is to be a man. I remember at a very young age when my mom was going to get a pair of shorts for me my dad telling her not to because men don't wear shorts.

    When I was eleven years old I lost part of my left hand in a farm accident. I never cried, because boys weren't supposta to, until 20 years later when it all came gushing out.

    I knew I was different when I was 12/13, I didn't embrace myself until 46. Not healthy.

    Its the same for comparing yourself to other masculine guys. I fell into this one in high school gym class. Perfect body, perfect looks, 8 inches...that wasn't me, still isn't.

    I am just discovering Elton, Queen, and Boy George. Was afraid to listen when I was younger because I might get labeled.

    You are who you are, I am who I am that's just the way God made us. Hell my wife even suggested she buy me two calendars for my shop. One with sexy girls and one with sexy guys!

    So if you drove by my garage you might hear some Johnny Cash, Green Day, or Rocket Man on the radio. I don't fricken care anymore. I refuse to be ashamed of myself or care what anyone things of me any longer.

    As far as changing oil, check out my media.

    Dean
     
  18. JaymzR1968

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    I may be the oddball on this topic, so in advance I ask and thank you for your patience and acceptance (that I have always felt when visiting this site) while I do my best to shine a light on how I see this issue...

    I have a problem with calling it toxic “masculinity” in the first place. That I’m and of itself is putting a label on something that is so difficult to define or cram into a predetermined stereotype. Why can’t it just be “toxic human behavior”? I’m being serious. Labeling with the word masculinity only perpetuates the dangerous and inaccurate perception that anything to do with being “manly”, etc is bad and must be eradicated. If there is truly such a thing as toxic masculinity then by default then there also has to be a thing called “toxic femininity”. Hear me out - why is it ok for society to place the blame all on “men”? Sure, there are the past generations that perpetuated many stereotypes including “what it means to be a man”, it also many others like a strong successful woman is just a man hating bitch or that she slept her way to the top. Or the previously mentioned to be gay you have to be flamboyant or as a bottom you’re the woman in the relationship. It’s ALL bs!

    I’m not in ANY position to tell somebody who feels as a man it’s their “duty” to protect a woman or anybody else who is weaker than them that what they feel is toxic. Just as I’m also not in any position to place a label on someone who happens to be wearing a pride shirt, or someone who has tattoos and piercings, or whatever else somebody chooses to wear and/or present themselves, as anything. Gay, straight, manly, feminine, pansexual, and so on are just labels humans need to help define and differentiate others from themselves and attempts to validate their own shortcomings or insecurities.

    When I was married to a woman many many years ago, every fall before winter hit, I felt it my job, my responsibility to chop firewood and get it all ready to use once the colder weather hit. Was it because I am a man? No! Absolutely not. It was because my wife physically could not do it without adding to the pain and issues she had with her back and neck - that is why it was my job. It was also my job, once I became a single dad (a.k.a. MAN) raising daughters on my own to teach them “things” that o physically did not have first hand knowledge of, and biologically could never share what they felt etc. but I did every gd thing I could to help them learn and understand it all. Do you know what it’s like to walk into your local drug store in the middle of the night as a 38 year old gay man looking to purchase the right “feminine hygiene products” and the looks you get? Or the folks in Kohl’s giving you the stink eye while you’re waiting for your preteen daughter outside of the dressing room in the middle of the girls underwear section, as she finishes trying on her first bra?

    The bad behavior isn’t “masculine” or any other specific gender label...it’s just TOXIC behavior and unrealistic generic expectations period. No other adjective needed. My 21 year old daughter is currently finishing up her Master Auto Mechanic certifications and has every intent to open her own shop one day. Does that make her “butch” or whatever? Again - NO. It makes her her own person with her own interests and motivations. If somebody says “that’s typically a mans world” well then that’s not toxic masculinity, that’s just ignorant and uneducated thinking.

    OK rant over - sorry. I don’t know if I clearly expressed what o was intending, but it tried.
    peace, James
     
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  19. I'mStillStanding

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    I think some of you guys are confused. Toxic masculinity isn’t saying masculinity is toxic. It’s the idea that there’s only one way to be a man that you can be and should be proud of, and that’s super masculine. Anything that a man does that’s isn’t masculine makes him less of a man. Toxic masculinity is the idea that girl’s in school shouldn’t wear tank tops and shorts/skirts that don’t cover their knees because it’s distracting to boys and they have more responsibility to be modest in an effort to control a males thoughts than the male themselves. Toxic masculinity is saying a drunk woman, a woman dressed in what society would say is “provocative” clothing, a female who works in some form of the sex industry has some responsibility in her sexual assault/rape because her actions inspired the male and brought it on. Toxic masculinity is saying boys can’t wear certain items because of colors, cuts, prints, etc. Toxic masculinity is tell woman in the work place not to confront a man in a public setting because it makes him feel threatened and less is productive so do it in a private meeting (legit a meeting document that was recently leaked). Toxic masculinity is having a male politician elected to the highest level who was caught on tape bragging about sexual assault, and then having a female who was elected resign because her ex husband used a nude photo as revenge porn to shame her.

    The reason it’s called toxic masculinity is because it is toxic human behavior, done by all gender identities, that is fueled by the idea of maintaining the superiority of males and what is viewed as traditional masculinity. Forcing boys to be boys and girls to be girls doesn’t serve any other purpose, except maintaining the status quo. While for younger people the ration of men to women is pretty much even, in older groups there’s nearly double the women as me. But only a quarter (and even less in the house) of the senate seats are women. Around 18% of the governors are women... In business for every female CEO there is like 25 males. So calling it what it is, toxic masculinity, isn’t a shot at what it looks like to be a “traditional man” but at the idea that you are less than if you aren’t that no matter if you are female, male, or non-binary.
     
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  20. Tightrope

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    I think toxic masculinity is a free standing concept and doesn't have as much to do with women as some of the posts above say. It has to do with dumbing down masculine behavior that is over the top and, sadly, sometimes even fairly normal. The big chunk of it that is harmful is when it assaults a boy or a man for choices such the music he listens to, the sports he plays or doesn't play, and his owning a pink polo shirt, among other similar things, and shaming him for these things. Beyond that, I don't think it's a healthy term and it has overreached into areas where it doesn't belong. Sorry, but I am not a fan.
     
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