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Old 05-17-2019, 09:05 PM
monstro is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 20,960
Originally Posted by Textual Innuendo
Is it? I'd be willing to bet that if you plotted a time-wise trend, the incidence of most of these things have gone down over time. So did toxic masculinity peak in the 1700's, and has been steadily decreasing since then? If it's steadily decreasing, why are we worried?

I don't think behaviors that are toxic today were necessarily toxic in the yesteryear.

For instance, today the modern workplace is very collaborative and team-oriented. Getting along with everyone and being able to simulate a "people person" are essential skills. There are still quite a few niches for the lone rugged individualist, but if you can't socialize well enough to build a solid professional network, you're going to have a rough time in this economy.

Of course, both women and men can be lone rugged individualists who struggle with socializing and "making friends" in the workplace. But men are much more likely to have this problem. I don't think all of this can be attributed to social programming, but I think social expectations can be unhelpful in addressing this problem. Like, take my brother. I love him, but he can be a rude and surly mofo sometimes. If I acted like he does around my mother, she'd yell at me for acting so "ugly". But my brother can say any ole thing and she'll just roll her eyes. It's been like this since we were kids. I gotta wonder how many of the guys getting written up for harassment in the workplace have mothers like mine. Back in the "Mad Men" days of the 1950s and 60s, these guys' behavior wouldn't have been so toxic, in that they wouldn't have faced negative consequences. They might have even been advantageous.

Another thing that's changing in society is the decrease in the number of well-paying "macho" jobs. If your father and grandfather and all your uncles worked in these kind of jobs, you just may associate these kind of jobs with what "real men" do. So if you can't find those kind of jobs, you might feel like you'd rather do low-paying jobs that are still "manly" rather than take a good-paying job that's"girly", like nursing or teaching. Genderizing occupations like this wasn't so self-defeating "back in the day". But it is today since good-paying jobs are so limited.

Finally, gender roles are changing in romantic relationships. The modern woman expects an equal partner--someone who is willing and eager to put in just as much as work as she does for home and family. So the guy who has absorbed the message that running a vacuum isn't "manly" or that diapering the baby "is the woman's job" is at risk of losing his relationship. The guy who thinks that talking about emotions isn't what "real men" do is at risk of losing his relationship. A hundred years ago, women had super low expectations for their male partners since women were constrained in their choices (be an unfulfilled but well-fed housewife or be an impoverished spinster). So a guy who thinks domesticity is "for girls" wouldn't have had a toxic mindset back then. That really isn't true today.

In summary, what constitutes "toxic" is context-specific. I actually think toxic masculinity is such a hot topic nowadays because we're just now becoming aware of how traditional masculinity is at odds with modern society. Brains and emotional intelligence are outcompeting brawn for jobs. The modern woman isn't willing to put up with the kind of bullshit her mother and grandmother put up when it comes to mate selection. The modern workplace is not conducive for the uncouth male. So I don't think you can say that things were more toxic in the past than they are now. At least toxic in terms of self-harm.