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Old 01-17-2019, 11:06 AM
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What does non-toxic masculinity look like?


I'm a straight female. As such, I appreciate masculinity as a quality. It isn't just sexy, it is vital. A feminine-inspired human culture has many wonderful (and very under-explored) aspects, but also lacks something essential. What is that essential thing, I am wondering.

I'm also a feminist, and it is very clear to me that as a culture, maybe as a species, many facets of what we shelter under the umbrella of that word are causing an enormous amount of suffering, for women, children, men themselves, and the planet as a whole, really.

This thread is hopefully about the positive sides of masculinity. What do you see as a really GOOD thing about masculinity that femininity doesn't traditionally have?

I would ask that this please please not devolve into woman-bashing, however subtle -- just don't mention us is a good strategy -- and that we agree that violence is a bad thing, for the purposes of this thread.

Last edited by Ulfreida; 01-17-2019 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 01-17-2019, 11:16 AM
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I hope this doesn't come across as a threadshit, as it's really not intended to be, but I think the concept of "non-toxic" masculinity is a bit of a red herring.

There is no way to encourage gender-specific behavior that is not toxic in some way. Any example of truly non-toxic masculinity I've seen is just "how any person, male or not, should behave."
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Old 01-17-2019, 11:27 AM
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Well, that wasn't really what I was looking for .... though I agree that there should be a non-gendered standard of behavior.

So maybe this is going to be a really short thread.

Last edited by Ulfreida; 01-17-2019 at 11:27 AM.
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Old 01-17-2019, 11:30 AM
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Old 01-17-2019, 01:43 PM
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There is no way to encourage gender-specific behavior that is not toxic in some way. Any example of truly non-toxic masculinity I've seen is just "how any person, male or not, should behave."
Men and women don't share all the same behaviors or misbehaviors. Some of it plays into gender roles.

One example of toxic masculinity is displays of violence in response to being disrespected. Occasionally women do that, but I never have any worry about accidentally getting into a dumb honor-fight by slighting a woman.

Other things are aggressive sexual pursuit, cat-calling and sexual comments, binge-dirinking, dominating the weak just for the fun of it. Again, women are capable of these things, but nobody considers it part of being a woman in the same way some people think that's just part of being a man.

That's on the negative side. On the positive side we can take those traits and turn them to good ends. Protect the weak, stand up for women, show chivalry, have the strength to call out bad behavior.

Change those things, and you still have a very appealing masculinity. I mean I guess that's true, I'm not attracted to men, but my dad does almost none of the toxic behaviors and I think he's a more manly man for it. I try to model that for my son as well.

Last edited by HMS Irruncible; 01-17-2019 at 01:44 PM.
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Old 01-17-2019, 10:01 PM
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I hope this doesn't come across as a threadshit, as it's really not intended to be, but I think the concept of "non-toxic" masculinity is a bit of a red herring.

There is no way to encourage gender-specific behavior that is not toxic in some way. Any example of truly non-toxic masculinity I've seen is just "how any person, male or not, should behave."
I love you and will babysit your children, your pets or take your grandma for a walk.



I tend to find male people physically attractive, and the physical traits I tend to find attractive in them are those I'm unlikely to see in a female person. But that's maleness, not masculinity.


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I think the op can really only be answered by the straight women here.

What are the characteristics of men as men that you find attractive romantically, that are part of why you are romantically attracted to men and not women, that are not physical characteristics?
None. Because while there are mental characteristics of a man that I find attractive, I find them attractive in a woman as well; they may be sexy-attractive or not, but that's got to do with my reaction to other stuff such as marital status and maleness. Being quick with a quip; being analytical; never ever ever starting a sentence with "boys/girls/men/women can't..." that's not directly related to biology... oh yeah, being capable of doing electrical work (I'll plumb, I'll mason, I'll assemble furniture, but I don't do sparky stuff)... being polite; knowing when it's ok to stop being polite...
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Last edited by Nava; 01-17-2019 at 10:06 PM.
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Old 01-17-2019, 11:27 AM
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I'm not nonbinary, but I tend to think of nontoxic masculinity as having two elements:

1) You're not being a terrible person along male-stereotype lines; and
2) You identify as male.

There's no mystical "masculinity" beyond that. Masculinity doesn't involve fart jokes or big pecs or physical courage or a dedication to hard work or anything else.

I'm a man who plays violent video games and argues politics and likes seeing attractive women and wears a beard and is kind of messy and bakes cookies and teaches children and has long hair and does the family grocery shopping and shies away from physical conflict.

Some of those are good traits and some are bad and most are neutral. Which ones are masculine? I'd argue only the first three words in that paragraph describe a masculine trait.

Last edited by Left Hand of Dorkness; 01-17-2019 at 11:29 AM.
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Old 01-17-2019, 11:34 AM
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I'm not nonbinary, but I tend to think of nontoxic masculinity as having two elements:

1) You're not being a terrible person along male-stereotype lines; and
2) You identify as male.

There's no mystical "masculinity" beyond that. Masculinity doesn't involve fart jokes or big pecs or physical courage or a dedication to hard work or anything else.

I'm a man who plays violent video games and argues politics and likes seeing attractive women and wears a beard and is kind of messy and bakes cookies and teaches children and has long hair and does the family grocery shopping and shies away from physical conflict.

Some of those are good traits and some are bad and most are neutral. Which ones are masculine? I'd argue only the first three words in that paragraph describe a masculine trait.
This is a great post.

Last edited by Acsenray; 01-17-2019 at 11:34 AM.
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Old 01-17-2019, 11:30 AM
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Maleness and femaleness are matters of gender and/or biology. There’s no need to extend those categories into the personality types of “masculinity” and “femininity.” Let every man and woman choose for themselves what to be without defining any particular trait as masculine or feminine.
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Old 01-17-2019, 11:31 AM
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1. Fighting to uphold what is right and oppose what is wrong
2. Supporting family, being responsible, being bread-winner
3. Being willing to stand in harm's way for something or someone that is worth it


That's really all I can think of that there is to it.
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Old 01-17-2019, 11:33 AM
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1. Fighting to uphold what is right and oppose what is wrong
2. Supporting family, being responsible, being bread-winner
3. Being willing to stand in harm's way for something or someone that is worth it


That's really all I can think of that there is to it.
Why should these traits or any other positive traits be labeled as masculine? Are women who have these traits imitating men? Or failing to be feminine?
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Old 01-17-2019, 11:57 AM
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1. Fighting to uphold what is right and oppose what is wrong
2. Supporting family, being responsible, being bread-winner
3. Being willing to stand in harm's way for something or someone that is worth it


That's really all I can think of that there is to it.
In what way are these primarily masculine traits?
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Old 01-17-2019, 12:09 PM
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Allow me to jump on the bandwagon here. I saw the thread title and started thinking of things I would identify as positive masculine traits and realized they are just positive traits for humans. I first thought of caring for and being a positive role model for his children and then rolled my eyes at myself. Bringing home the bacon? Please. Everything I thought of is considered positive when women did them, too.

So, I can't think of anything. Maybe standing up to men that are exhibiting the toxic kind? It might make more impact than if a woman does it.
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Old 01-17-2019, 12:49 PM
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In what way are these primarily masculine traits?
They're masculine traits by several hundred years of cultural tradition. There's no reason they have to be exclusively male traits. Just like nurturing and domesticity are culturally feminine traits, though there's nothing restricting them to females.

The whole point of having "masculinity" separate from "maleness" is that there can be non-masculine males and masculine females, just as there can be feminine males and non-feminine females.

Simply put, arguing that masculine traits aren't exclusive to males is missing the point.
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Old 01-21-2019, 11:15 PM
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They're masculine traits by several hundred years of cultural tradition. There's no reason they have to be exclusively male traits. Just like nurturing and domesticity are culturally feminine traits, though there's nothing restricting them to females.

The whole point of having "masculinity" separate from "maleness" is that there can be non-masculine males and masculine females, just as there can be feminine males and non-feminine females.

Simply put, arguing that masculine traits aren't exclusive to males is missing the point.
Do you have to deal with the Likability Penalty?
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“Women face a double standard that men don’t. Men are expected to be assertive and confident, while women are expected to be nurturing and collaborative. When women take the lead and assert ourselves, we go against expectations — and often face pushback from men and women.”
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Old 01-22-2019, 07:01 AM
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Do you have to deal with the Likability Penalty?
Absolutely. Male bosses or anyone in charge deals with a likeability penalty. I think men are just less likely to care or if they do care they voice the opposite. " You guys don't like me but i'm not here to make friends, I just have to get the job done" is often heard from unlikeable male bosses.

They definitely face pushback.

Last edited by Littleman; 01-22-2019 at 07:02 AM.
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Old 01-17-2019, 02:06 PM
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In what way are these primarily masculine traits?
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Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
Why should these traits or any other positive traits be labeled as masculine? Are women who have these traits imitating men? Or failing to be feminine?

This is a continuum-fallacy type of question; it just is masculine. Otherwise we might as well say that there's no difference between masculinity and feminity and men and women might as well be each other.
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Old 01-17-2019, 11:34 AM
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I agree with Eonwe. The aspects of "Real Men Act Like This" messaging that I support--loyalty, honor, honesty, courage, kindness--are things I want all people to embrace.
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Old 01-17-2019, 11:47 AM
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I also endorse LHoD's approach.
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Old 01-17-2019, 12:10 PM
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I think of non-toxic masculinity as an idealized form of chivalry.

- Defend the weak and innocent.
- Honor to those to whom honor is due.
- Speak the truth, without fear or favor.
- Be responsible for the solution, even if you are not responsible for the problem.
- Keep your word.
Quote:
we agree that violence is a bad thing
It isn't always, which is why men need to keep the code - to defend others against those who don't.

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 01-17-2019, 12:41 PM
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I think of non-toxic masculinity as an idealized form of chivalry.

- Defend the weak and innocent.
- Honor to those to whom honor is due.
- Speak the truth, without fear or favor.
- Be responsible for the solution, even if you are not responsible for the problem.
- Keep your word.
It isn't always, which is why men need to keep the code - to defend others against those who don't.

Regards,
Shodan
I ask you the same questions I asked Velocity --

Why should these traits or any other positive traits be labeled as masculine? Are women who have these traits imitating men? Or failing to be feminine?
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Old 01-17-2019, 01:55 PM
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I ask you the same questions I asked Velocity --

Why should these traits or any other positive traits be labeled as masculine? Are women who have these traits imitating men? Or failing to be feminine?
Why should negative things labelled "toxic masculinity" be considered masculine, rather than just toxic personality traits that either gender could have?

Do you think there are such things as positive feminine traits? If so, what makes them feminine and not just generally desirable traits that all people should aspire to?
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Old 01-17-2019, 02:10 PM
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Why should negative things labelled "toxic masculinity" be considered masculine, rather than just toxic personality traits that either gender could have?

Do you think there are such things as positive feminine traits? If so, what makes them feminine and not just generally desirable traits that all people should aspire to?
This isn't about which traits should be only male or only female.

We have male and female gender roles. That's not a bad thing. Even people who transition their sex will very often choose a binary gender role. The question is, what traits of the masculine role are considered toxic? If we get rid of those, do we still have a useful masculine gender role?
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Old 01-17-2019, 02:14 PM
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Why should negative things labelled "toxic masculinity" be considered masculine, rather than just toxic personality traits that either gender could have?
Because they have been perpetuated in our society as part of the collective myth about men. That's what makes it "toxic masculinity" and not "toxic personhood." Boys are taught from a young age that these are desirable characteristics if they should aspire to be "real men."

Quote:
Do you think there are such things as positive feminine traits? If so, what makes them feminine and not just generally desirable traits that all people should aspire to?
I would make the same argument about supposedly positive feminine traits as I would about supposedly positive masculine traits. Give me some examples of what you think are non-toxic feminine personality traits, and let's see if I'm right about that.
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Old 01-17-2019, 12:43 PM
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I think of non-toxic masculinity as an idealized form of chivalry.

- Defend the weak and innocent.
- Honor to those to whom honor is due.
- Speak the truth, without fear or favor.
- Be responsible for the solution, even if you are not responsible for the problem.
- Keep your word.
These are things that are good for all human beings to do. How are these specifically for masculinity?
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Old 01-17-2019, 02:12 PM
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I cook, have written poetry, like kids, and hate sports, but my wife once told me if I were any more manly I'd be offensive, so I'll give this a shot.

I don't think the APA report said that masculinity is bad. I think it compressed a few ideas into a great many words, especially at first, but said, "We are sometimes called upon to treat men. Let's think about how to do it without stepping on their masculinity."

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These are things that are good for all human beings to do. How are these specifically for masculinity?
Toxic masculinity involves treating women like crap. Treating others like crap is bad for all human beings to do. How is it specifically for masculinity?

Manly virtues are good for anyone, but they're traditionally masculine, just like compassion and being nurturing are good for anyone, but traditionally feminine.

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Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
I think of non-toxic masculinity as an idealized form of chivalry.

- Defend the weak and innocent.
- Honor to those to whom honor is due.
- Speak the truth, without fear or favor.
- Be responsible for the solution, even if you are not responsible for the problem.
- Keep your word.
It isn't always, which is why men need to keep the code - to defend others against those who don't.

Regards,
Shodan
That is the answer to the OP.

Like anything, masculinity and femininity can go wrong. Toxic femininity makes you hurt yourself. Toxic masculinity makes you hurt others. The world does not need men who cuss and spit and drink their weight in booze. The world will need strength and courage as long as there is evil to be fought, and without honor we are nothing. The purpose of strength is to protect the weak. The purpose of a warrior is to fight evil. Does no one read old Tom Clancy novels but me and Shodan?

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Old 01-17-2019, 12:51 PM
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Because men are bigger and stronger. Therefore -
  • If fighting is necessary, men will need to be the ones who fight.
  • If heavy lifting is necessary, men will need to be the ones to do it.
  • Men are better equipped to dominate women. Men therefore need a code that mitigates more against dominating women, who are weaker.
  • Men don't get pregnant or nurse. Therefore men need to bear more responsibility for supporting their families, because they can do it more continuously.
Men and women are different.

With great power comes great responsibility. Men have more power. They must, therefore, be more responsible.

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 01-17-2019, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
Because men are bigger and stronger. Therefore -
  • If fighting is necessary, men will need to be the ones who fight.
  • If heavy lifting is necessary, men will need to be the ones to do it.
  • Men are better equipped to dominate women. Men therefore need a code that mitigates more against dominating women, who are weaker.
  • Men don't get pregnant or nurse. Therefore men need to bear more responsibility for supporting their families, because they can do it more continuously.
Men and women are different.

With great power comes great responsibility. Men have more power. They must, therefore, be more responsible.

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 01-17-2019, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
Because men are bigger and stronger. Therefore -
  • If fighting is necessary, men will need to be the ones who fight.
  • If heavy lifting is necessary, men will need to be the ones to do it.
  • Men are better equipped to dominate women. Men therefore need a code that mitigates more against dominating women, who are weaker.
  • Men don't get pregnant or nurse. Therefore men need to bear more responsibility for supporting their families, because they can do it more continuously.
Men and women are different.

With great power comes great responsibility. Men have more power. They must, therefore, be more responsible.

Regards,
Shodan
How do you react to women who don't need men to defend or take care of them? Women who can kick your ass with one hand tied behind them? Women who are single mothers successfully supporting and bringing up their children without a man?

Imagine two women standing side by side. You know one of them is fiercely independent and strong, and that the other one isn't, but you can't tell by looking which one is which. Describe your potential attraction to each of these women.
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Old 01-17-2019, 01:42 PM
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How do you react to women who don't need men to defend or take care of them? Women who can kick your ass with one hand tied behind them?
I won't go so far as to say there aren't any such women. I will go so far as to say there are very few such women, and that they are not anything like the average.
  • Most men are stronger than most women.
  • Some men are stronger than all women.
  • No women are stronger than all men.
  • Very few women are stronger than most men.
Quote:
Women who are single mothers successfully supporting and bringing up their children without a man?
Such women and their offspring are at a measurable disadvantage, both now and throughout human evolutionary history.
Quote:
Imagine two women standing side by side. You know one of them is fiercely independent and strong, and that the other one isn't, but you can't tell by looking which one is which. Describe your potential attraction to each of these women.
I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. If I can't tell, why would my attraction differ?

The chivalric code doesn't depend on whether or not I am attracted. A non-toxic male, that is to say a gentleman, stands ready to offer his superior strength in defense of the innocent weak. If the innocent weak doesn't want his help, then a gentleman does not force his attentions on them. That is also part of the code.

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 01-17-2019, 01:58 PM
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I won't go so far as to say there aren't any such women. I will go so far as to say there are very few such women, and that they are not anything like the average.
  • Most men are stronger than most women.
  • Some men are stronger than all women.
  • No women are stronger than all men.
  • Very few women are stronger than most men.
Such women and their offspring are at a measurable disadvantage, both now and throughout human evolutionary history.
I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. If I can't tell, why would my attraction differ?

The chivalric code doesn't depend on whether or not I am attracted. A non-toxic male, that is to say a gentleman, stands ready to offer his superior strength in defense of the innocent weak. If the innocent weak doesn't want his help, then a gentleman does not force his attentions on them. That is also part of the code.

Regards,
Shodan
Can you provide a cite that shows that physical strength is what even allows males to be more successful with other males?

Even among chimpanzees dominance relationships are influenced by alliances, and coalitions.

https://www.rug.nl/research/gelifes/...ch15book07.pdf

Can you even offer an example of an animal where, if breeding success is primarily due to physical strength, that they maintain long term groups based on that strength alone?

In almost all of the research I have found dominance through pure strength doesn't produce long term stable situations and typically results in a very short life span for those individuals who do get to the top. Coalitions in primates are almost exclusivity built on strong friendships. I have the feeling that your argument is based on the fully discredited idea of dominance and the "alpha male"

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs...65025407084054

Note a lot of this was based on Wolf studies by wildlife biologist L. David Mech's and his 1970 book "The Wolf: The Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species" and David Mech has fully retracted the conclusions from that book. That line of thinking has been proven to be a myth although it is still popular in pop-science.

Last edited by rat avatar; 01-17-2019 at 02:01 PM.
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Old 01-17-2019, 02:20 PM
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Can you provide a cite that shows that physical strength is what even allows males to be more successful with other males?
What does this have to do with a chivalric code that the strong should protect the weak and innocent? I am not talking about being more successful with males. I am talking about a code that commands non-exploitative relationships between the sexes.

Chimpanzees don't have a gentleman's code. If that's your point, granted. Not sure what that has to do with it, but granted anyway.

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 01-17-2019, 03:19 PM
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The chivalric code doesn't depend on whether or not I am attracted. A non-toxic male, that is to say a gentleman, stands ready to offer his superior strength in defense of the innocent weak. If the innocent weak doesn't want his help, then a gentleman does not force his attentions on them. That is also part of the code.

Regards,
Shodan
Still pretty toxic in some circumstances I'm afraid. If you're not physically stronger than women, by that definition, you can't be a gentleman. No muscle? Not a real man.

I'm at the upper end of the bell curve regarding female strength, not especially due to effort, just genetics. Sure, most guys the same size and age as me are stronger, but since I was a teen, I've regularly encountered men physically weaker than me. I've had a lovely view of exactly how toxic considering physical strength to be an essential component of masculinity can be.

I get a bit of it directly; if being strong is masculine, then women who are stronger get called butch, are assumed to be lesbian (which probably annoys lesbians as much as straight women) and generally get sniggered at. It was really no fun in my teens, when I was a head taller than most guys my age as well, now it's mostly just irritating. The effect the attitude has on guys can be far worse though. I've got a good friend and former workmate who, due to a collection of health conditions, is really thin and has a lot of trouble putting on muscle mass. Working together, we'd get 'jokes' like 'Hey, Filbert, shake him upside down, see if he's got [missing item] in his pockets!' and 'Just chuck him over here would you?'

He got so sensitive about it, if there was anything needed doing like moving something heavy, he'd jump to do it before me, clearly desperate to prove his strength. In the worst case, he insisted on moving a table for me, even when I could lift it with one hand and he could barely move the thing, because he'd just got out of hospital the night before after being on an intravenous drip for a week. But hey, got to be strong or you're not a man.
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Old 01-17-2019, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Filbert View Post
Still pretty toxic in some circumstances I'm afraid. If you're not physically stronger than women, by that definition, you can't be a gentleman. No muscle? Not a real man.
While it doesn't quite fit with Shodan's definition, I think that's not necessarily true, and a pretty small tweak allows the weak to be chivalrous.

It's not necessary to be stronger than an innocent/weak party to defend them chivalrously. It's simply necessary for their assailant to be stronger.

Non-toxic masculinity is embracing the fact that when the ship goes down, you get the women and children onto lifeboats first. You don't have to be a physically strong man to do that. You just have to stand down. You don't have to be stronger than the ocean to save people from it.
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Old 01-17-2019, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
I won't go so far as to say there aren't any such women. I will go so far as to say there are very few such women, and that they are not anything like the average.
  • Most men are stronger than most women.
  • Some men are stronger than all women.
  • No women are stronger than all men.
  • Very few women are stronger than most men.
Can you explain what the ability to lift heavy things has to do with success? Or why lifting heavy things should be a factor in determining who should protect who?
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Old 01-17-2019, 11:24 PM
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Can you explain what the ability to lift heavy things has to do with success? Or why lifting heavy things should be a factor in determining who should protect who?
Do we really have to explain this to you? I mean, you do realize even among same-gender combatants, they are still divided into weight classes? Okay, I'll spell it out for you: The combatant who is stronger, faster, and larger will tend to win in MOST trials. The smaller, slower, weaker combatants will tend to lose MOST trials, unless they get unexpectedly lucky or they possess superior kung-fu skills that allow them to overcome their inherent disadvantages.

You may also be surprised to learn that most basketball players are exceedingly tall. I suppose there might be some short-statured basketball players whose superior talents and athleticism allow them to succeed, but if all other things are equal, the taller basketball player will be at an advantage.

So it occurs to me to be self-evident that if we have two genders, and one gender is TYPICALLY larger, faster, and stronger than the other, that gender would hold the greater advantage in combat. This is why mixed-gender boxing is not a thing. And from a purely anecdotal perspective, when conducting mixed-gender Army combatives training it has been my experience that the female combatant's best outcome is to merely survive until the end of the match.

So what's the point? TBH, I have no idea what point you are trying to make, but I'll take a stab at it.

The big problem with masculinity and toxic masculinity is that these are ideas we have inherited from earlier times in civilization. For 99.9% of human history, it has made perfect sense for the men to be combatants simply because the average female combatant could not compete with her male counterpart. And for 99.9% of human history, it was NECESSARY for a person to be prepared for violence on a daily basis. In most human societies, encountering someone who is not a member of your family was likely to be a fatal event. We are lucky to live in the modern age when (A) state governments generally hold a monopoly on violence, (B) we are accustomed to interacting with strangers without the threat of violence, and (C) technology has brought us closer to parity between combatants, such that physical superiority is not necessarily decisive.

The major problem is that the transition from primitive societies (in which warfare is the norm rather than the exception) to modern societies (in which most individuals will never encounter an act of violence) has been neither abrupt nor linear. Rather, we have the situation in which certain cultures or subcultures retain behaviors from earlier eras or different circumstances. The current disagreement is a step in the process of deciding which practices are still relevant and useful, and which may be safely discarded. The question of whether females should be permitted as soldiers (for example) is often framed as a matter of equality or opportunity, but a utilitarian might frame it as a question of whether modern technology and doctrine have reached the point where the biological imbalance between male and female is no longer relevant to the outcome of the combat.
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Old 01-18-2019, 06:30 AM
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Can you explain what the ability to lift heavy things has to do with success? Or why lifting heavy things should be a factor in determining who should protect who?
Um you really can't make the correlation between having physical strength and the ability to protect?
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Old 01-17-2019, 01:03 PM
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Be a gentleman. It's pretty much just that.
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Old 01-17-2019, 01:09 PM
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Here are a few examples of “rigid, sexist, or restrictive gender roles, learned
during socialization, that result in personal restriction, devaluation, or violation of others or self” from the APAs recent guidance.
  • a disproportionate emphasis on personal achievement and control or being in positions of power
  • discomfort expressing care and affectionate touching of other men
  • discomfort expressing and experiencing vulnerable emotions
  • distress due to balancing school or work with the demands of raising a family

https://www.apa.org/about/policy/boy...guidelines.pdf
  • Men often won't seek help and end up committing suicide.
  • Men often will often stay in stressful work conditions to be a provider for their families despite negative heath implications.
  • Men often will perpetuate discriminatory behaviors against other sexes or women because they value social "position" so much that there is a perceived need to have "other" so that they can say "I may have it bad but at least I'm better than X"
  • Men often have an issue that, because it is socially unacceptable to show emotion, they both lack the tools to deal with stressful situations and will often resort to violence or other destructive behaviors.

The almost violent response some men exhibit when confronted with less than ideal cultural practices, often treating efforts to address those problems as personal attacks is a direct example of the relative immaturity and lack of experience in dealing with these situations and directly maps to the problem of their self worth being based on a manufactured social rank than their own actions.

Unfortunately talking about these issues is challenging because even constructive criticism is treated as a personal attack. Many men never developed the emotional tools to have rational discussions about these topics. The cultural stigmas add to this in a destructive feedback loop.

Last edited by rat avatar; 01-17-2019 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 01-17-2019, 01:25 PM
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I agree with Eonwe's initial reaction about what our values should be. How does this relate to our innate capacities and how our society has developed?

Humans are sexually dimorphic in physical size and strength; much less so in mental capacities - we have the same intelligence, and it's becoming increasingly clear that any innate difference in cognitive abilities are insignificant for most roles in modern society.

The size difference did imply significantly different roles historically; but (in the developed world at least) size is also largely irrelevant to our roles. Technology means that progressively fewer jobs require physical strength. Physical violence is increasingly rare, and to the extent that it's necessary we delegate physical force to the police and military (where, again, technology means that women are at much less of a disadvantage than they might have been historically).

So the male role as physical enforcer/protector is largely an anachronism (in the developed world at least). Yet the "macho" personality that derives from this is widespread in non-physical contexts, in the way many men approach work and social relationships. Can we untangle any positive "strong male" role that is relevant or desirable in the modern world, and that's qualitatively different from the toxic "macho" personality? I'm really not sure, and my inclination is to doubt it.

Last edited by Riemann; 01-17-2019 at 01:30 PM.
  #41  
Old 01-17-2019, 01:29 PM
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I agree with Eonwe's initial reaction about what our values should be. How does this relate to our innate capacities and how our society has developed?

Humans are sexually dimorphic in physical size and strength; much less so in mental capacities - we have the same intelligence, and it's becoming increasingly clear that any innate difference in cognitive strengths are insignificant for most roles in modern society.

The size difference did imply significantly different roles historically; but (in the developed world at least) size is also largely irrelevant to our roles. Technology means that progressively fewer jobs require physical strength. Physical violence is increasingly rare, and to the extent that it's necessary we delegate physical force to the police and military.

The male role as actual physical enforcer/protector is largely an anachronism (in the developed world at least). Yet the "macho" role that derives from this is widespread in non-physical contexts, in the way many men approach work and social relationships. Can we untangle any positive "male protector" role that is relevant or desirable in the modern world, and that's qualitatively different from the toxic "macho" personality? I'm really not sure, and my inclination is to doubt it.
Addressing toxic masculinity doesn't relate to biological traits at all, there is no biological reason men refuse to go to the doctor because they are afraid of the social implications.

The negative aspects that need to be targeted are 100% purely due to social norms and the question if there are biological differences doesn't even come into play.
  #42  
Old 01-17-2019, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by rat avatar View Post
Addressing toxic masculinity doesn't relate to biological traits at all, there is no biological reason men refuse to go to the doctor because they are afraid of the social implications.

The negative aspects that need to be targeted are 100% purely due to social norms and the question if there are biological differences doesn't even come into play.
Is the OP asking about desirable non-toxic masculine biological traits? That's easy: Facial hair, cock, testes.
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Old 01-17-2019, 01:26 PM
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But back to the OP, in my mind "non-toxic masculinity" would be a few points:

* Men would be allowed to develop coping skills for emotional stress without worrying about being "weak" and thus would be more likely to have reasonable, socially positive, responses to stress. (And no this isn't about crying in public)
* Men would base most of their perceived self worth as being based on their accomplishments and behaviors vs being based mostly on comparisons and stack ranking of others. (de-incentivize getting ahead at the expense of others, particularly make taking advantage of the weak unacceptable)
* Men would feel comfortable with their own accomplishments despite the accomplishments or abilities of women.
* Men wouldn't feel that going to the doctor was some how wrong or a sign of weakness.
* Competition would be a positive agent for self improvement and ones willingness and desire to address their personal limitations would be valued more than proving others are of lesser value.

There are others but those are some I can think of.
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Old 01-17-2019, 01:37 PM
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Same question appeared day before yesterday on one of the Facebook groups I participate in, in which most of the "masculine" people would have been folks assigned female at birth. Here was my answer:

Quote:
Originally Posted by AHunter3
Speaking as someone who does *not* identify as masculine, I'd like to tell you that I outgrew a sort of ... "feminine chauvinism", I guess you could call it, the belief that WE were better people in all ways (nicer, kinder, more patient), and of seeing masculine people in snake-snail-puppydogtail terms. So what's healthy and nontoxic about masculinity? There is goodness in the blunt directness, it is healthy to be assertive (which includes assertively friendly), the world is a far better place for people who refuse to be trammeled upon; there are many ways in which the trait that CAN be expressed as "selfishness", when combined with an analysis of what is one's *long term* best interest, becomes a fervent force for that which is good for everyone overall. I am glad there are masculine people in the world, although I have never wished to be one of them.
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Old 01-17-2019, 01:44 PM
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Isn't non-toxic masculinity just the flip side of the toxic traits? The same way anything is bad if taken too far?

Eg being willing to make the first move is a positive trait, but refusing to take no for an answer a negative one. Self-reliance is good, but taken too far means not asking for help when you need it. Confidence and risk-taking are good in moderation, and the desire to protect others is beneficial as long as it doesn't mean being over protective. Even the stiff upper lip is good in some circumstances, such as needing to remain professional at work. It's only a problem if you can never express your emotions.
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Old 01-17-2019, 02:34 PM
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If I were tasked with writing a fictional character who embodies the platonic ideal of masculinity, with none of the toxic stuff, at a minimum he would be:

- physically strong
- emotionally resilient
- guided by a strong sense of duty to loved ones (i.e. protector role)
- not easily intimidated or thwarted (i.e. brave)
- confident
- risk taking
- adventurous

All of these traits are obviously things that women can and do possess, but these traits are not stereotypically feminine.

Folks should realize that anything can be toxic at high enough doses, and the same goes for masculine characteristics. For instance, I have emotional resilience listed above. I see it as a positive thing in general, but it becomes toxic when we don't allow boys/men to ever express hurt feelings or fear. Same with wanting to protect others. In general that is great, but not when your feeling of worth and status depends on someone else being helpless and vulnerable.
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Old 01-18-2019, 06:54 AM
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Folks should realize that anything can be toxic at high enough doses
Ooh, great point!
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Old 01-17-2019, 02:37 PM
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Here's a non-toxically masculine example institution that I very much approve of: The Men's Shed association.

The core idea is a bunch of blokes getting together with their power tools, making stuff and fixing stuff, generally for the local community, and chatting about life. That's all very blokey stuff, in the sense of being stuff that lots of blokes like to do, and where lots of people who like to do it are blokes. It's not set-in-stone exclusionary - some of the Sheds are mixed gender spaces and call themselves Community Sheds, but some are men-only spaces and I'm fine with this, because some community groups are women-only spaces, and fair's fair.

So, to me that's one good example of what non-toxic masculinity can look like.

"Masculine" is just "the set of traits and preferences that are more common in men". Just because women exist that might have masculine traits like a fondness for tinkering with computers or playing footy or driving high performance cars really fast, doesn't mean those things aren't masculine, it just means that gender roles have fuzzy boundaries. That's only a problem if you're really invested in everybody being bang in the middle of their assigned gender role, which is not a stance I'd encourage in anyone.
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Old 01-17-2019, 03:18 PM
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That's all very blokey stuff, in the sense of being stuff that lots of blokes like to do, and where lots of people who like to do it are blokes.
I'm not arguing that you are wrong in your observation that power tools are "blokey" things. I'm arguing that making any assumptions or decisions based on that observation is in fact an act of upholding "toxic masculinity".

Or to put it another way, any time you say "well, men are just like X," you are promoting a paradigm that accepts that men cannot help but be inclined to act in certain ways because of their biology.
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Old 01-17-2019, 03:56 PM
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I'm not arguing that you are wrong in your observation that power tools are "blokey" things. I'm arguing that making any assumptions or decisions based on that observation is in fact an act of upholding "toxic masculinity".

Or to put it another way, any time you say "well, men are just like X," you are promoting a paradigm that accepts that men cannot help but be inclined to act in certain ways because of their biology.
Are you saying that though because you don't agree that there are such things are traits or preferences very much more often expressed in one sex than the other, or because you're concerned about our society's predilection for pushing people into assigned gender boxes that they don't fit in?

If it's the former, I disagree with you - if the latter then I agree that this is a problem, but I don't think that "lets not define things as masculine" is the solution to it.

Lets take aggression. Men are, on average, more aggressive than women. I actually think that's true, statistically. Aggression can be toxic - when it's used to dominate people - but it can be channeled into useful directions like jobs with lots of physical activity - firefighters, carpenters, mountain rescuers - or where to be successful you need to win against opposition (trial lawyers). It would be useful if we had a term like "aggression" that encompassed these not-necessarily-toxic aspects of the trait - the determination to fuckin-well-WIN at whatever cost - while leaving behind the definitely toxic aspects of it (not caring whose bodies you tread on on the way up)

So then when somebody - probably a male somebody - notices 'wow, I have a shit-ton of aggression in me', instead of saying 'Be less aggressive! Aggression is part of toxic masculinity!' we can be saying 'Here's the template for non-toxic masculinity. This aggress-ish kind of behaviour that still has all the useful determined-to-win stuff, but misses out on the toxic bullying stuff'. If you label that as 'a part of masculinity' then you increase the chance that guys are willing to go down that path. Being "masculine" is actually important to some guys. I don't particularly identify with how that feels personally - being feminine is exceedingly UNimportant to me - but I see that it is so. I think it's easier to define a "non-toxic masculinity" that's actually attractive to people who find masculinity important, rather than to totally stamp out the concept of masculinity altogether - because people who find masculinity important will resist that.

All this, combined with a healthy dose of "letting people do their own thing" rather than whacking them over the head with gender roles that they actually don't care particularly about. I support having the concept of masculinity as an option that people can choose, not as a compulsory straightjacket associated with having a penis.
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