"Toxic Masculinity"

2018/05/01 writing

People try to salvage "the good parts of masculinity", but even this effort enforces the binary.

They'll say things like "Masculinity means being strong, taking responsibility, a certain stoicism against adversity". I want to push back against this. Why are women excluded from such positive traits? Asking about the positive parts of femininity produces even worse results, usually a laundry list of Victorian-sounding submissive virtues.

People then get twisted into weird knots, like, "women can be masculine too, in a positive sense" or "I encourage both men and women to choose from femininity or masculinity as they see fit". And yet this functions solely as a fig leaf to keep the otherwise regressive endorsement of the gender binary alive. It's a completely hollow sentiment, like a capitalist telling a worker they should follow their dreams, as they simultaneously enforce the wage relationship.

When you want to compliment someone for something that is "manly", or "womanly", skip the gendered word, and be precise. Praise them exactly for what they deserve praise — bravery, strength, etc. Don't use unnecessarily gendered language.