The concept of toxic masculinity was first associated with the mythopoetic men’s movement in the 1980s. It was a movement that sought to restore men’s “deep masculinity” which they have lost due to modern post-industrial lifestyles. This loss of deep masculinity manifested in: men competing with each other in the workplace instead of being comrades, excessive interaction with women in the home (aka not enough “bro time”), separation of sons from their fathers which led to emotional damage, men suffering from feminist accusations of sexism, men being discouraged to show emotions aka “male inexpressivity.” In short, toxic masculinity was a term used to highlight the toxic aspects of what life for men has become after the shift from agricultural living.
Nowadays, toxic masculinity carries on a different meaning. It is now a blanket statement for anything remotely relating to male behavior: being assertive, hanging out with the boys, thriving in high-risk high-reward careers, preferring male-only spaces, “manspreading”, “mansplaining,” the list goes on. It seems like anything men do now is considered “toxic” and therefore, reproachable and needs correction.
But here’s the thing: masculine men perform roles in society that still need to be filled when men step away from their duties. Many men have abandoned their posts as pillars of the home and their communities, perhaps due to not being taught by their own fathers or because the current culture punishes masculinity or because men are just like that nowadays. Whatever it is, young men are just not as manly as they used to be, and we are all worse for it.
Single motherhood is rampant in certain communities, thus predisposing children to a life of poverty and crime. Women are increasingly frustrated by their partners who don’t pull their weight in either the economics or upkeep of the home and family. As men stepped out of their masculinity, women are being pressured to step out of their femininity and into the abandoned masculine roles. But with the ease that men have abandoned their posts, such is not possible for women whose biology is tightly interwoven with their feminine roles. Such roles include childbearing and childrearing as well as the propensity for lighter physical labor due to our anatomy. In short, women are forced to perform both roles to our own detriment.
As a side note, it is curious that the mainstream idea of female strength is doing what a man is able to do, as if it is the masculine that is the ideal. To be a strong woman is not to be a man. To be a strong woman is to be a strong woman, regardless of what a man does.
Celebrating, or at the very least, not lambasting masculinity, is badly needed in our current collective consciousness. Men who display the extreme end of the spectrum of masculinity and who are considered to be toxic, do not represent all of masculinity. Masculinity is not toxic, but perhaps our negative view of it is.
Let us live in harmony with men for we need them as they need us.
This we manifest.