“Toxic Masculinity”


“Toxic Masculinity”


I saw that Meryl Streep was being castigated for not liking the phrase “toxic masculinity”, which might give the impression that the speaker believes that men are toxic. She was solemnly assured that the phrase is intended to connote a certain stereotype or model of maleness in which strength is preferred to emotion (or some such thing). Of course no one is claiming that all men are toxic or that this is an inherent attribute of maleness! It made me wonder whether anyone would object to a similar concept of “toxic femininity” intended to connote a certain stereotype or model of femaleness in which a woman is irrational, over-emotional, shrill, and vindictive. The user of the phrase insists that he doesn’t mean all women fit this stereotype (though he agrees that some do) or that it is inherent to femaleness. It is rather a cultural norm to which women gravitate—as men gravitate to the cultural norm of unemotional aggression. Somehow I don’t think this defense of the phrase would be found acceptable, so I wonder why the logically parallel “toxic masculinity” is. Is it perhaps because users of the phrase really do believe that men are (or tend to be) constitutionally toxic? To me the phrase is highly tendentious. Compare “toxic Englishman” or “toxic New Yorker” or “toxic lawyer”.


3 responses to ““Toxic Masculinity””

  1. I also don’t like the use of the word “toxic” here because it prejudges substantive questions. A person might be accused of “creating a a toxic work environment” when all they have done is point out the unethical things that have been going on in the workplace.

  2. Jgkess@cfl.rr.com says:

    One sensed something was roiling beneath this Post. “Certain matters” were perhaps at play. Given that late-stage American-style politics, culture and capitalism are themselves, ” Kafkaesque”, it follows that so too would be, “certain matters”. On the matter of American capitalism in particular, however, what I should probably say is that our current Randian ruling-class is not so much, “Kafkaesque”, as they are (ironically) “transparent”—we know exactly what their motives are. Insatiable are the enthusiasts of profit-making (the company for which I work is exempted from this charge).

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