• Valued contributer
    10
    In debates on this topic, it is recurringly asserted that toxic masculinity does not have have a female analogue. That femininity as classically defined can't be toxic. There's nothing toxic about being too submissive, agreeable, etc.

    Arguments that could be made against those traits defining femininity aside, there's a double standard in the underlying conceptual framework* of the term that I never see addressed.

    Take a classic example of toxic masculinity: the fragile ego. It is often propounded that society's heavy emphasis on intolerance towards disrespect, as a core tenet of true masculinity, has given men fragile egos. Society punishes the acceptance of disrespect with such a steep loss of status: (pejoratives: you're a bitch; stigmas: you become an easy target, now anyone can disrespect you) that men feel tremendous pressure to take immediate action when disrespected, so to secure their status. and if they don't they experience enormous shame. This leads to a culture of macho-ism and violence settling a lot of heated encounters between men.

    But doesn't the above just reduce to men caring a lot about what society tells them to care about? Doing it to avoid the drop in status if they don't? If toxic masculinity as currently defined boils down to improper behavior that is ultimately the result of social pressure, couldn't the same be said for improper female behavior that's also coaxed by society?

    To use an example from a tv show: In the first season of the hit amazon series: 'The Boys' , one of the female characters(starlight) goes on a date with one of the main male characters(Hughie). During the date, which is a bowling night, Hughie confronts her on his suspicion that she's throwing the game and going easy on him. She recounts a past experience from high school where during a date, she and her date were assaulted by someone, maybe a group(can't remember), she kicks their perpetrator's ass and her date responded to all of this by proceeding to never speak to her again.

    The lesson learned from all this according to her, is to never, as a woman, display strength in front of a guy, so as to avoid shaming him. Hugh says the guy had a small pee-pee(implying that his behavior was due to heavy insecurity), they both have a chuckle over this, he assures her he'd never react in a similar manner, cuz he's not that insecure - the lesson the show is pushing that guys should learn from this - the tension is dispelled and they move on with their date and starlight stops holding back.

    So the behavior of the guy she went on the date with, is portrayed only as condemnable. This reflects the social feedback toward such behavior and buttresses the point I started with. When a man behaves in a way that's annoying, it is considered to be the token of a fragile ego and an example of toxic masculinity.

    On the other hand, I can think of countless similar examples with women where an example of superficially reprehensible behavior is given, but almost always someone(usually a woman) explains that the behavior is a result of the heavy pressure society puts on women to care about whatever spurred the behavior. And they're usually showered with sympathy in response.

    *not sure I used that term right
  • Wittgenstein
    442
    Toxic masculinity doesn't exist. It's a modernist phrase, invented to demonize men and behind all the facade, women still love tall handsome masculine man, biology doesn't lie.

    Here's a video to demonstrate my reasoning

    Don't bother with philosophy if you want to understand women. All you have to do is improve your looks + work on your body + be more neurotypical.

  • Clarky
    9.1k


    A wise woman once taught me this - If the only way you can stand up for men is by putting women down, you're just playing the same game as the people you oppose.
  • Tom Storm
    4k
    I've seen numerous examples of toxic masculinity over the years. The term may be controversial to some and even misused, but the behavior exists. Examples include - using physical strength and height to intimidate other people (especially women), hatred of gay people; hyper masculinity - sexually inappropriate towards women; use of violence (or threats thereof) to influence behavior or punish others; inability to access and fear of emotions (except aggression and anger). When I used to drink in bars, I sometimes got into scraps with such guys, who would bully others or come onto women using appalling and unwanted approaches (sometimes I had to channel my own toxic masculinity to sort things out. Fortunately I am a big guy with a buzz cut and a temper.) And yes, women can be badly behaved too but, from what I've seen, not quite in the same pugnacious manner or as frequently.
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    In England, great Brittain, to some, men kill their wives more than women their men. They get much lower sentences as their act is so-called not premeditated. Women kill by plan, and mostly in response to the man's wickedness. So, there are about as many years sentenced to woman as to men.
  • Hillary
    1.9k


    Gonna get me a buzz cut too. Pussins crawl on top of me...
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    And yes, women can be badly behaved too but, from what I've seen, not quite in the same pugnacious manner or as frequently.Tom Storm

    If only they had the power...
  • ZzzoneiroCosm
    2.1k
    Haha, welcome valued contributor. Love the handle!
  • Jackson
    938
    I've seen numerous examples of toxic masculinity over the years.Tom Storm

    Like saying a woman is on the rag. Bad term.
  • Tzeentch
    1.5k
    Examples include - using physical strength and height to intimidate other people (especially women), hatred of gay people; hyper masculinity - sexually inappropriate towards women; use of violence (or threats thereof) to influence behavior or punish others; inability to access and fear of emotions (except aggression and anger).Tom Storm

    Women exhibit all of these behaviors as well, including hyper masculinity (ironically).

    The suggestion seems to be that only men can exhibit 'toxic masculine' behavior, which is inaccurate, sexist and putting women on a pedestal.

    And yes, women can be badly behaved too but, from what I've seen, not quite in the same pugnacious manner or as frequently.Tom Storm

    Ah, there's the pedestal.
  • L'éléphant
    651
    women still love tall handsome masculine man, biology doesn't lie.Wittgenstein
    This is a myth.
  • Streetlight
    8.8k
    If the only way you can stand up for men is by putting women down, you're just playing the same game as the people you oppose.T Clark

    This is great.
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    Lovely query!

    Toxic Femininity. :chin:

    It appears that no qualities regarded as exclusively womanly can be weaponized if you catch my drift. If a woman is to become a royal pain in the ass, she must masculinize herself. Examples: Dominatrix, Virago, and so on.

    Perhaps I'm mistaken; some feature overlap betwixt men and women seem to be dual-use tech. How cool is that, oui?

    Statistically, there are fewer women in jail than men. This, however, is an argument from degree and not from type (women can be murderers, thieves, pirates, whathaveyou).

    I wonder what this means? :chin:
  • Tzeentch
    1.5k
    The issue with the term 'toxic masculinity' in the way that it is often used is that it implies that there is something inherently toxic about masculinity.

    Instead of regarding problematic behaviors as seperate phenomena, apparently the need is felt to link these behaviors to men and masculinity.

    That is very problematic, and it has appeared to me as though the term has become a society-sanctioned way of projecting one's personal grievances with men on men as a whole.
  • Wittgenstein
    442


    Examples include - using physical strength and height to intimidate other people (especially women), hatred of gay people; hyper masculinity - sexually inappropriate towards women; use of violence (or threats thereof) to influence behavior or punish others; inability to access and fear of emotions (except aggression and anger).

    The same was true of man in 1900s, 1800s, 1700s, .... back to the stone age. I don't see why there's a need to change the mass behavior of men suddenly. Asshole behavior is a side product of masculinity. This doesn't mean a masculine man can't be a nice guy but once you demonize the side product, masculinity self destructs gradually

    Modernity has undoubtedly reduced the demand of traditional masculine value/skills in society but l don't see how it's possible to separate the alleged "toxic" masculine behavior from masculinity. It's a naive way of looking at our biological behavior.

    That said, l admire Greek/Persian culture for promoting the androgynous Man as the ideal. An ideal man should possess feminine beauty and and adorn it with masculine strength
  • Tom Storm
    4k
    This doesn't mean a masculine man can't be a nice guyWittgenstein

    Totally agree.

    I would say those men who are toxic are by no means in the majority.
  • Paulm12
    67

    Very interesting point; I never thought about this before. I actually think it does, but to a different extent.
    You say
    There's nothing toxic about being too submissive, agreeable,
    but I’d disagree. If a woman is on a date with a man, and goes along with sexual activities she is not comfortable with to appease her partner without speaking her mind, this would be an example of submissiveness and agreeableness to a “toxic” level. Hence toxic femininity. One could also argue the obsession over looks, how fit one is, how slim one is, etc is another angle of toxic femininity.
  • Valued contributer
    10
    Would you say that pointing out a form of hypocrisy in society's treatment of the two genders is standing up for one by putting the other down?
  • Valued contributer
    10
    Thanks. Just occurred to me that I could have tried signing up with the correct spelling('contributor' instead of 'contributer') on this forum. The former was already taken on reddit.
  • Valued contributer
    10
    One of the two responses I got on reddit in the fleeting period this very same thread was allowed to stand on r/askphilosophy:

    I’m having a hard time figuring out what your argument is here… You start by questioning whether there can be something like “toxic femininity,” and then go on to give examples of how masculinity is socially constructed. I would expect most contemporary gender theorists would agree that both masculinity and femininity are socially constructed, at least to a significant extent. You then seem to claim that since they are both socially constructed, bad behavior of both should be equally condemned. The issue is that there are different kinds of bad behavior, as you yourself suggest when you move from considering “toxic” behavior to “annoying” behavior. Needless to say, toxic and annoying are quite different things, particularly because they imply substantially different levels of harm. Where I’m really confused is how you think that “annoying” feminine behavior is comparable to “toxic” masculine behavior…

    Wish I'd gotten a chance to respond to this post since I think they brought up an interesting point that got to the heart of the matter. I questioned why "annoying" female behavior warranted sympathy for being the byproduct of social pressure while "toxic" male behavior wasn't given the same treatment. I asked why it was isolated and condemned in comparison.

    The respondent honed in on my use of 'annoying' vs 'toxic' to describe the respective behaviors, and challenged my position by questioning the equating of the two. I'll give my thoughts on that later but for now I should clarify that I did not intend to use meaningfully different adjectives. In my mind I was using 'annoying' as synonymous with 'toxic' though I realize now I shouldn't have. But yeah, for the record, I'm saying that plenty of female behavior ought be considered just as toxic.
  • ZzzoneiroCosm
    2.1k
    Just occurred to me that I could have tried signing up with the correct spelling('contributor' instead of 'contributer') on this forum. The former was already taken on reddit.Valued contributer

    Let the mods know and they will probably fix you up. :)

    It occurred to me that you might not know who the mods are, so: @baden
  • Hanover
    8.1k
    There's nothing toxic about being too submissive, agreeable, etc.Valued contributer

    Rest assured, there's a dysfunctional side of stereotypical female behavior as well.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mean_Girls
  • Clarky
    9.1k
    Would you say that pointing out a form of hypocrisy in society's treatment of the two genders is standing up for one by putting the other down?Valued contributer

    Yes, I think it is. I've taken exactly the position you're taking in previous discussions. I came to realize that setting this up as a men vs. women thing hurts more than it helps. That's what infuriates me about a lot of feminist ideas.
  • Valued contributer
    10
    Yes, I think it is. I've taken exactly the position you're taking in previous discussions. I came to realize that setting this up as a men vs. women thing hurts more than it helps. That's what infuriates me about a lot of feminist ideas.T Clark

    Why is it putting them down as opposed to bringing them back down to your level? Generally, you only ever see the recognition of a form of hypocrisy be dismissed as baseless when, on close scrutiny, things aren't actually unequal.

    With race for example, the outrage over the use of slurs being uneven between certain races. The common explanation for this is that the use of those words don't always carry the same weight given history, political power etc. So things can sometimes seem superficially uneven but not be in reality.

    Otherwise however, isolating and condemning hypocrisy is typically considered an egalitarian activity. It is establishing what is generally accepted to be a core tenet of most moral systems: equality.
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    there is something inherently toxic about masculinity. — Tzeentch

    Even among deer (picture Bambi), the males are violent (during the rutting season), fatal injuries have been reported. What hope is there for apex predators like ourselves (h. sapiens)? Testosterone should be reclassified as a Class I (extremely hazardous) toxin. The Green Goblin was all DHT! :snicker:
  • Possibility
    2.7k
    If toxic masculinity as currently defined boils down to improper behavior that is ultimately the result of social pressure, couldn't the same be said for improper female behavior that's also coaxed by society?Valued contributer

    Toxic: harmful or unpleasant in a pervasive or insidious way.

    It’s not really about ‘improper’ behaviour, but about harmful or potentially harmful behaviour. The guy who ignores a girl because he once felt less capable than her is not just behaving ‘improperly’ towards her. He’s also behaving improperly towards himself, and to anyone who may be guided by his actions. His behaviour is harmful in falsely implying that she did something ‘wrong’.

    But what makes this toxic masculinity is its pervasiveness as proper ‘masculine’ behaviour - as reinforced not by some idea of ‘society’, but mostly by male behaviour and response - that the guy’s masculinity is in question. While the idea that the girl was ‘wrong’ per se appears to be challenged by Hughie’s response - it’s done in a way that only reinforces this questioning of the guy’s masculinity (small pee-pee) as the proper response to her behaviour.

    What makes it difficult to describe femininity as ‘toxic’ is that what is considered ‘proper’ feminine behaviour is determined and reinforced not so much by female behaviour, but largely by male behaviour and response.
  • Cuthbert
    750
    I could have tried signing up with the correct spellingValued contributer

    I think the handle is better as it is. It suggests modesty: the value of your valued contributions will have at least the limitation of not being correctly spelled - and so not always beyond criticism.
  • Clarky
    9.1k
    Why is it putting them down as opposed to bringing them back down to your level?Valued contributer

    That doesn't make sense to me. If it's wrong to put men down, it's wrong to do it to women too. Women are people before they're women. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    With race for example, the outrage over the use of slurs being uneven between certain races. The common explanation for this is that the use of those words don't always carry the same weight given history, political power etc. So things can sometimes seem superficially uneven but not be in reality.Valued contributer

    I'm not trying to put words in your mouth - Are you saying that the situation for black people is "superficially uneven?" If so, you and I couldn't disagree more.

    Otherwise however, isolating and condemning hypocrisy is typically considered an egalitarian activity. It is establishing what is generally accepted to be a core tenet of most moral systems: equality.Valued contributer

    You're argument isn't with women, it's with people who show disrespect for men. In my experience, that doesn't include most women.
  • Valued contributer
    10
    Haha interesting take. I might take this advice since I think I actually did misspell it on my first try on reddit. I remember being surprised the handle was available until I saw the proper spelling.
  • Valued contributer
    10
    What makes it difficult to describe femininity as ‘toxic’ is that what is considered ‘proper’ feminine behaviour is determined and reinforced not so much by female behaviour, but largely by male behaviour and response.Possibility

    What about an uncomely reaction from a woman who feels her femininity being threatened? Say for example, a woman that flips out when her boyfriend turns down her sexual advances. I've seen a man complain about this and receive a response from a woman who explains how his girlfriend's reaction was a result of how strongly society attaches a woman's worth to her sexual appeal. She got a lot of upvotes and commiserating comments.

    I'm juxtaposing something like that to how starlight's date reacted. It came from a similar place no? He felt his masculinity threatened/attacked and his response clearly reflected this.

    Are you saying the difference here is that in both cases men are the ones reinforcing the values that lead to both reactions as opposed to society?
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