This myth is probably, by far, the easiest one to kill.
The number of violent acts performed in TV and Film (the majority of which are performed by male characters) has doubled since 1950. According to the American Psychiatric Association, violent video games have been proven to increase aggressive thoughts and behavior in the games’ overwhelmingly young male demographic.
Whereas boxing was considered the most “violent” sport of the 1980s, the advent of Mixed Martial Arts, Ultimate Fighting and (most recently) Bare Knuckle Martial Arts has shown an exponential growth of the over past two decades, generating billions of dollars in revenue every year.
Masculinity is not under attack. Rather, fear of not being masculine enough is eliciting the claim that masculinity is under attack.
One in four women are either sexually harassed or raped by the time they are legal adults. A sizable percentage of domestic crimes in the United States involve the murder of a wife by their male spouse – the rest are battery or overt threats of violence. Meanwhile, violent hate crimes enacted against gay and transgender people (the demographic considered a key influencer in the so-called “attack on masculinity”) have been rising steadily over the past decade. Additionally, the suicide rate among middle-aged men, especially military Veterans, has been skyrocketing – a trend psychiatrists note as being at least partially attributed to men’s unwillingness to admit failure, weakness, vulnerability, or ill-health.
But ya know what’s not happening? Female spouses killing tens of thousands of their husbands. Gay men going out and murdering straight men for not being “feminine” or “gay” enough. Transgender people beating up or killing masculine, straight men for looking too stereotypically “male.” Suicides committed by men willing to go to therapy regularly and talk about their feelings.
And because those things aren’t happening, it’s pretty safe to conclude: no one is attacking masculinity.
Masculinity is attacking masculinity. Masculinity is tearing itself apart, and taking everyone down with it. Masculinity is laying it all on the line in the effort to become more masculine than ever before, feeding the insatiable fear of becoming “too weak” or “too feminine”.
Hence the moniker “Toxic Masculinity”. This strain of masculinity is toxic not because manliness, in and of itself, is toxic. No. Toxic masculinity is dangerous because it is producing a body count.
In addition to the slaughter of gay and transgender men, and the skyrocketing suicide rate, there is also the egregious trend of mass shootings. Overwhelmingly, mass shootings are performed by men who not only feel bullied by other men (and therefore emasculated), but also by men who are often rejected by women (yet another perceived emasculation).
Such fear, although wearing many different masks, all comes from the same place: entitlement; specifically, the belief that because one is male, one’s behaviors are something the world must automatically emulate and/or appease. Whenever these demands are not met, then violence against others, oneself, or both follows. And, as statistics have shown, this is happening with increasing regularity.
So, by all means, please: be manly. Be masculine. Be masculine as hell. Beat the shit out of somebody in the Octogon. Enjoy yourselves.
But don’t think for one second that if some dude across the street decides to wear make-up and put on a dress, or if a dude kisses another dude in public or on TV, or if a transgender person wants to use a single-stall bathroom, or if some girl doesn’t want to go on a date with you after you’ve won your cage-match, your masculinity is under attack.
It’s not. It never was.
No. What’s happening whenever you feel that way is that you’re worried your toughness, your strength, your fearlessness, is somehow not deemed superior to any other form of sexual or cultural expression.
Is it useful? Sure. Is it superior? No.
Get over yourself. You’re not that important. You never were. Because “masculinity” does not make you any more important than “femininity” or anything in between. It’s why, when a father cradles their newborn child tenderly, it does not diminish them as a man. If anything, it makes them more of a man.
Treat other people with kindness and decency and don’t ever, ever assume that they need to treat you with any sort of respect simply because you’re a dude.
You don’t like it? Go see a therapist and talk about your feelings. It’s what the rest of us do after we really screw something up or if we think the world has treated us unfairly or we can’t deal with how pissed off we are.
Ya know. Like regular ol’ human beings.
So stop whining, man up and, for once in your big-dicked, manly-man life, let yourself act like a big ol’ pussy. It’ll make you feel a hell of a lot better.
And who knows?
It might even make you feel like more of a man.