Is Toxic Masculinity a Valid Concept?
On the dangers of pathologizing manhood.
Posted March 8, 2018 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan
The two fundamental objectives in the evolutionary game of life are to first survive (natural selection) and then to mate (sexual selection). For sexually reproducing species, including humans, evolution has endowed males and females with universal mating preferences that map onto sex-specific recurring challenges faced by each sex during our evolutionary history.
Female fiddler crabs and hens prefer males with extravagantly large claws and tails respectively. Ewes (female rams) will mate with the ram that wins the brutal intrasexual head-butting contest. They reward targeted aggression by granting sexual access. Needless to say, there are innumerable other examples of sexual selection that I might describe, but I suspect that you get the general gist. Are rams exhibiting toxic masculinity? Are female fiddler crabs succumbing to antiquated notions of masculinity as promulgated by the crab patriarchy?
Let’s now apply the exact same evolutionary process (sexual selection) to humans. Evolutionary psychologists have documented universal patterns of mating preferences that are invariant across time and place. In no culture ever studied have women repeatedly preferred to mate with pear-shaped, low-status, tepid men possessing high-pitched, nasal voices. In no documented culture do women’s sexual fantasies revolve around granting sexual access to unemployed, unambitious men who occupy the lowest stratum of the social hierarchy.
Instead, 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.
Of course, this does not imply that women are not attracted to intelligent, sensitive, kind, warm, and compassionate men. The ideal man is rugged and sensitive; masculine and caring; aggressive in some pursuits and gentle in others.
Think of the male archetype in romance novels, which is a literary form almost exclusively read by women. He is a tall prince and a neurosurgeon. He is a risk-taker who wrestles alligators and subdues them on his six-pack abs, and yet is sensitive enough to be tamed by the love of a good woman.
This archetype is universally found in romance novels read by women in Egypt, Japan, and Bolivia, precisely because it caters to women’s universal evolved sexual fantasies. When engaging in sexual role-playing in the bedroom, few women ask that their male partners wear their Google C++ programmer uniform. They ask for the fireman suit to make its presence. James Bond, the epitome of “toxic masculinity,” does not cry at Taylor Swift concerts. His archetype is desired by women and envied by men.
The inimitable equity feminist Christina Hoff Sommers wrote a book back in 2001 titled The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men (see our chat on my show THE SAAD TRUTH_144 ). How prescient she was!
There has been a relentless ideological attack on masculinity, stemming from radical feminism, the most recent example of which is the bogus term “toxic masculinity.” It literally seeks to pathologize masculinity in ways that are profoundly harmful to the existential sense of self of young men.
If a man witnesses a woman being attacked on the street, should he intervene? Well, according to the bogus feminist notion of benevolent sexism, it might be best to look away (see THE SAAD TRUTH_38 ). Male saviors are likely oozing toxic masculinity! I should add that male criminals are not exhibiting “toxic masculinity” any more than female adulterers are exhibiting “diabolical femininity.”
The great majority of men are attracted to feminine women who do not possess the body type of Michael Phelps. Beyoncé is desired not because of her “diabolical femininity,” but simply because of her femininity.
Similarly, most of the traits and behaviors that are likely found under the rubric of “toxic masculinity” are precisely those that most women find attractive in an ideal mate! This is not a manifestation of “antiquated stereotypes.” It is a reality that is as trivially obvious as the existence of gravity, and no amount of campus brainwashing will ever alter these facts.
Let us stop pathologizing masculinity. Instead, let us appreciate the endless ways by which men and women are similar to one another, as well as the important ways in which the two sexes differ.