A man named Wisdom asked me a great question today: how did gender activists come up with the term ‘toxic masculinity’? After giving it some thought, I have identified the falling of three dominoes that I think have contributed to the explosion of the term in popular culture.
The innate human suspicion and critical view of men (especially as compared to women), added to the hegemony of the feminist perspective (and their revisionism of history), and the fact that several generations of Western women have not sent their men off to potentially die for our security has made us susceptible to the myth of ‘toxic masculinity’.
Men exist in dominance hierarchies. A very traditional dominance hierarchy would be strength or hunting skills. The strongest men and best hunters would acquire prestige and status which would give them access to the best females for mating with. In our modern societies, many men exist in many dominance hierarchies, they could be based on wealth, or intelligence – even gaming and trainspotting appeal to men’s instinct to compete in dominance hierarchies. According to Gad Saad;
Women are attracted to “toxic masculine” male phenotypes that correlate with testosterone, and they are desirous of men who are socially dominant, who are strategically risk-taking in their behaviors, and who exhibit patterns of behaviors that will allow them to ascend the social hierarchy and defend their positions from encroachers.”
Because where a man sits in any given dominance hierarchy potentially confers upon them access to women therefore opportunities to pass on their genes — ie. the second most important human instinct, after survival. Dominance hierarchies and male behaviour (and transgressions) are policed stringently, both by women and men. So, women and men instinctively have a very… Critical view of men.
We also happen to have a very sympathetic view of women because they are the limiting factor in reproduction. Women are less productive when it comes to reproductive potential – one baby per year-and-a-half for two or three decades is the absolute maximum potential for women (and with breast feeding and the all-but-historic chance of death in child-birth, it’s usually significantly less) – as compared with men’s virtually boundless capacity to inseminate.
This disparate potential is both why it has been discovered that 8,000 years ago 17 women reproduced for every single male and why men have evolved their competitive instincts so strongly as compared to women. It’s also why we view women so much more favourably than men; in tribal societies most women just had to be considered worthy of reproduction, whereas only a small pool of men were technically required so they were judged far more harshly. This is the evolutionary basis that had to exist for human beings to reach the point where a significant portion of us could sincerely discuss the ‘existence’ of ‘toxic masculinity’.
The second domino is hundreds of years of increasing feminist activism. According to Peter Wright, in his book ‘Gynocentrism: From Feudalism to the Modern Disney Princess’;
“Feminists today refer to courtly ladies of the late Middle Ages as the first feminists, or protofeminists” [because] “In the 12th-14th centuries evidence shows that women began to agitate for increased authority over the ‘correct’ way for men and women to conduct relationships, with particular emphasis on what they felt were acceptable roles for males in a dignified and civil society.”
He goes on to say that; “women were widely viewed as men’s moral superiors” and that “Courtly love began with a social shaming of men for bad behaviours… The idea was launched by powerful women of the medieval aristocracy who cited the worst behaviours of the most unruly males and extrapolated those behaviours to the entire gender.”
The second generation of feminists, known as The First Wave, included misandric Suffragettes such as Mona Caird who called for man (as a social class) “to suffer, inch by inch, pang by pang, for that which he has inflicted” and The Declaration of Sentiments, signed at the Seneca Falls Conference in 1848, is a list of grievances beginning with the statement “The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman”.
The third generation, or Second Wave, was even more extreme – by the 1960s-70s it was considered acceptable behaviour for future tenured professors to say that “All sex, even consensual sex between a married couple is an act of violence perpetrated against a woman.” (Catherine MacKinnon) and Neil Lyndon reports, in ‘No More Sex War’, that at a dinner party in 1976 (or thereabouts) his hostess – a well respected literary journals editor – informed him that “All men are Idi Amin”.
And so we come to the growth in the use of the term ‘toxic masculinity’. A term originally coined by the Mythopoetic men’s community to describe hypermasculine male chauvinists who they asserted were primarily raised without male role models in the 1980s-90s. Fourth generation/Third Wave feminists jumped on it. To them, after dropping the suggestion that women may be involved in its conception (naturally), the term offered a stick to beat men with and a way of acknowledging male disadvantage (such as their sky high suicide rates) whilst blaming men themselves for their disadvantages.
The final domino that I believe has fallen in the modern Western world, to create an environment where such an egregious theory could become as popularised as it is, is the fact that women haven’t had to rely on men to save us from an existential threat for generations.
Not since World War Two have the majority of women (including in the academic classes) had to wave goodbye to their men-folk, unsure if they would return, and staking all of their hopes for the survival of their way of life on their victory. In such situations, I believe that most women would naturally develop a fierce loyalty and defensive attitude to their men and their men’s reputations which would insulate them from the ravages of toxic feminist theory.
‘Toxic masculinity’ is the result of thousands of years of evolution and hundreds of years of thought; to the point we’ve now reached where many academics are pathologically ideological enough to develop it, and a sizeable proportion of the public are bigoted enough (with regards to men) to swallow it. And the backlash against toxic feminism has been active for over 100 years, with consistent futility.
The final domino, I hope to God won’t be re-erected, and the first domino cannot be. Our only hope lies with righting the second domino and combatting feminism. Despite its ingrained nature and hegemonic status, I do believe that we’re on the cusp of something potentially wonderful; A Voice for Men is vastly outperforming Everyday Feminism; the concerted feminist campaign to eject Philip Davies from his seat in Shipley in 2017 failed dismally; and reports from friends on campus involve students quoting Jordan Peterson and bemoaning over-privileged, feminist Millennials. I live in hope.