Toxic masculinity versus toxic feminism

Sean Plunket: Toxic masculinity isn’t the problem – toxic feminism is

…a dark and disturbing aspect of New Zealand society that most of us have been aware of but too cowed by a prevailing climate of political correctness to openly discuss or address, toxic feminism.

You know what I’m talking about, those endless columns written by clearly biased journalists that use phrases like “mansplaining” and “stale pale male” to mock anyone who might challenge their misandry and moral superiority.

If a woman dares question the high priestesses of this hateful cabal, they are pitied for being subjugated by the utterly fictitious “tyrannical patriarchy”.

If you try engaging with the toxic feminists, they will inevitably retreat to their social media silos screaming “bully” or “misogynist” or launch an online petition and campaign to have you fired and ostracised.  Their latest wacky idea is to do away with jury trials in our criminal justice system.

The toxic feminists can’t tolerate any criticism because their particular brand of outrage and hatred simply doesn’t stand up to any rational scrutiny.

What will help? Well why not look for a screening of Amanda Millar’s movie “Celia” about the late Celia Lashlie or check out the work of New Zealander of the year Mike King.

Men and women might also consider calling out instances of casual toxic feminism at work or school or university to reinforce the truth that the empress’s cloak of virtue is non-existent. We can also talk and listen to each other without throwing insults and epithets around like confetti or buying into the polarising hate speech that toxic feminism encourages.

To an extent Plunket is right. Some feminists have extreme ideas about switching power balances from male to female, and want to discredit and shut down males who speak, especially those critical of radical feminist ideas.

But Plunket does the debate a disservice. He won’t help discussion and understanding by referring to ‘toxic feminism’, which could be seen to imply that feminism is toxic. He should have qualified it by describing it as ‘some feminists are toxic’ or ‘toxic radical feminism’ (but even some radical feminism can be justified activism).

Most feminism is fair and reasonable. I agree to large extent with the aims of a lot of feminists. There are extreme feminists, but they are a small minority.

Plunket is also wrong to infer that toxic masculinity isn’t a problem. There is some toxic masculinity (not all masculinity) that remains a major problem. That shouldn’t be dismissed by shifting the blame to an equal and opposite reaction.

He has just thrown more toxins into the debate, adding to the ‘them versus us’ war of words.

Plunket would do better by promoting positives of feminism and positives of masculinity.


Toxic masculinity

Research in the US suggests that sexist men who want to have power over women are more likely to suffer from psychological problems. The traditional dominant macho behaviour can be harmful to men as well as to women – a “toxic masculinity”.

Washington Post: Sexist men have psychological problems

Psychologists looking at 10 years of data from nearly 20,000 men found that those who value having power over women and endorse playboy behavior and other traditional notions of masculinity are more likely to suffer from psychological problems — and less likely to seek out help.

The new meta-analysis, which was published Monday in the Journal of Counseling Psychology, synthesized 78 studies on masculinity and mental health gathered between 2003 and 2013. The participants ranged in age from 12 to over 65, and the vast majority were men.

Researchers then identified 11 norms considered to be “traditionally masculine” — desire to win, need for emotional control, risk-taking, violence, dominance, sexual promiscuity or playboy behavior, self-reliance, primacy of work, power over women, disdain for homosexuality and pursuit of status — and looked to see whether they were associated with particular mental health outcomes.

In general, the men who stuck more strongly to these norms were more likely to experience problems such as depression, stress, body image issues, substance abuse and negative social functioning. They were also less likely to turn to counseling to help deal with those problems. The effect was particularly strong for men who emphasized playboy behavior, power over women and self-reliance.

Not all of the traditionally masculine norms that Wong studied were linked to psychological problems. For example, putting work first didn’t correlate with either positive or negative mental health outcomes; perhaps that’s a reflection of the fact that investing a lot of emotional energy in work can be fulfilling, even though it taxes relationships, Wong said. And risk taking was associated with huge positive and negative mental health outcomes, possibly because how you feel after taking a risk depends on whether the risk pays off.

But valuing playboy behavior and power over women — aside from being explicitly sexist — was strongly correlated with psychological problems.

I think that men trying to impose power over women – or anyone trying to impose power over anyone else – is a symptom of a lack of confidence in themselves. They have trouble earning respect so they try and demand it, which doesn’t work out well.

A growing group of psychologists are interested in studying “toxic masculinity” — the idea that some traditional ideas about how men should behave are harmful to men, women and society overall. 

The point is not to demonize men, or the attributes some of them possess. It’s more to understand how behaviors encouraged in men can be damaging for everyone involved.

Basically, if you sort your own shit out you are less likely to try and shit on others.