Dumping on Men Again by Calling Them "Toxic"


Here we go again: disparaging men and masculinity. I am really growing to hate the expression "toxic masculinity." Why are the male traits of men and boys "toxic"? And why are not more people asking that question publicly?

The most recent article I have seen in the popular press comes from the UK's Daily Mail:


This report of so-called "research" from Australia claims, "The biggest indicator was the nature of a [man's] friendships—the fewer [he] had, the more likely [he was] to be 'toxic.'"

Note first that the researchers have taken the leap from referring to masculinity as "toxic" to labeling individual men as "toxic." Seeing that make my antennae go up and helped me identify various anti-male biases in the article.

Beyond calling individual men"toxic," the article offers the tiniest glimmer of hope when it says, "[Toxic masculinity] may be due to a lack of quality friendships." Again, this article is not about the value of friendships in men's lives. It appears the researchers have no such interest in promoting men's quality of life. Instead, it looks for excuses or explanations in an attempt to attribute the toxic label of "toxic masculinity" to individual men and groups of men.

Lest there be any doubt about these researchers' agenda, note how they use another made-up term, "hegemonic masculinity": "It's been used synonymously with hegemonic masculinity, a practice that legitimizes men's dominant position in society." This claim strikes me as unduly coy; why don't they just say that it is their position that men are the cause of all that is wrong with the world?

Additionally, it is worth noting what male attributes the authors of the Daily Mail article and the Australian researchers deem "toxic" or disparage generally. In no particular order, such traits include the following:

* competitiveness,

* less willingness to show emotion,

* aggression,

* physical strength,

* self-reliance,

* stoicism,

* strength,

* virility,

* dominance,

* toughness, and

* independence.

I see many of the qualities listed above in the men I meet here at MANN. I can also recognize them in my male friends in the larger world. To me, these qualities seem virtuous, not vicious. While many things can be harmful when taken to an extreme, I believe that we ought to cultivate these traits in our boys and men. I strongly oppose labeling these qualities of good male character as "toxic."

One final problem with the term "toxic masculinity" is that it presents a familiar instance of a toxic dichotomy that asserts, "women are good; men are bad." Even on the rare occasions that I have seen the term "toxic femininity" used, it has been framed as a phenomenon that is due to men's fault! Moreover, a female author's book about "toxic femininity" was removed from Facebook and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook).


We need to oppose the term "toxic masculinity" and oppose those who would tag us, other men, and boys with that misandrist label. We cannot allow those who hate men to dictate the terms of debate any longer.

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When the researchers start with the premise that hegemonic masculinity and toxic masculinity are reasonable explanations of male expression and experience, then research becomes hate speech. Garbage in, garbage out. It's called confirmation bias.

This is what happens when you let feminist ideologues research men and masculinity. Sadly, the men;s longitudinal study in Australia has been placed in the hands of feminists. Their research has already included phrases like "traditional masculine norms" (code for toxic masculinity), blaming "maleness" for poor engagement with health services.

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