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Toxic masculinity or intrusive ideology?

Posted by / January 21, 2019

The question of toxic masculinity resurfaced recently with Gillette’s “#MeToo” ad. Apparently, that commercial “proved” that toxic masculinity is real an still around.

It’s one thing to hear or read about toxic masculinity from quite liberal sources, but it’s another when the American Psychological Association rails against so-called toxic masculinity:

Western culture defines specific characteristics to fit the patriarchal ideal masculine construct. The socialization of masculine ideals starts at a young age and defines ideal masculinity as related to toughness, stoicism, heterosexism, self-sufficient attitudes and lack of emotional sensitivity (Wall & Kristjanson, 2005), and of connectedness. Boys learn to be men from the men in their lives, from their own experiences navigating our social norms, and from the large social and cultural context. Boys live under intensified pressure to display gender-appropriate behaviors according to the ideal male code.

But there are several problem with the “toxic masculinity” thing. As the New York Times points out, it’s entirely ahistorical to assume that we’ve “discovered” problems with masculinity. It’s also absurd to think that there is one overarching view of masculinity. And finally, as this satirical publication points out, our culture is not particularly masculine.

So this begs the question: is toxic masculinity the problem its made out to be, or is an intrusive ideology making a mountain out of a molehill?

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