In Defense of Masculinity

Actor Henry Simmons

In the last five years I heard social critics, artist, journalist, etc. use the phrase "toxic masculinity." I believe we need to have a real discussion about that phrase. I believe it is harmful to men.  I am using the images of Black American men because I believe they are being used as a the scapegoat for this term. Obviously Black American men are not the face of this ideology and should not be presented as such. I  also used these images of these men because they represent the Alpha Male which is what I am attracted to. So what is toxic masculinity? How is it defined?

Former NFL Player and Actor Fred Williamson circa 1973

Toxic Masculinity is defined as one of the ways in which patriarchy is harmful to men. It refers to the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth. This is the definition I found on Google.

Boxer and Activist Muhammad Ali

Maya Salam wrote an article in the New York Times entitled  "What Is Toxic Masculinity?" In the article she asserted that researchers suggested that "toxic masculinity" manifests through suppressing emotions, masking distress, maintaining an appearance of hardness, and  violence as an indication of power. Personally, I do not believe that masking distress and maintaining an appearance of hardness is limited to men. Women do this too. I believe that is more appropriate to say that an individual man can be toxic but masculinity itself is not inherently toxic. That is an insult to men. I understand that some men can be jerks but does that not mean that masculinity is toxic. It means that the individual himself is toxic. Also if we are going to make the case for "toxic masculinity" then one could argue that "toxic femininity" exist. As a Black woman I would be offended if someone said that my femininity is toxic. I would be offended because I know that is not true. It would be fair to say that I have behavior traits that need adjustment. Any man or woman can be a toxic person.

Carolina Panthers Quarterback Cam Newton

Feminist Christina Hoff author of, The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men. Hoff argued that there has been an attempt to attack the ideology of masculinity, which stemmed from radical feminism. Additionally, the notion of toxic masculinity has sought to pathologize masculinity in ways that can be harmful to a young man's sense of self.   I agree with this sentiment. I remember last football  season when my favorite quarterback Cam Newton was accused of exuding "toxic masculinity" when he gave a female reporter a compliment. Newton was impressed with the reporter's knowledge of football routes. He stated that he had never met a woman that had so much insight on the game he laughed when he said it. Newton was immediately accused of assuming that women knew nothing about sports and could not work in the sports world. I was annoyed with the media outrage and I was more pissed that he apologized. He did not say or do anything wrong. There was nothing sexist or toxic about his statement. I am a woman and I understood what he meant.  I want more push back on the term toxic masculinity. It does not exist because masculinity itself is not toxic, an individual man can be toxic.


Popular Posts