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.

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.”

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.

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.

Disney’s Robin Hood.

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.

  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?

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.

This is a great post.

I also endorse LHoD’s approach.

In what way are these primarily masculine traits?

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.

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.


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?

These are things that are good for all human beings to do. How are these specifically for masculinity?

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.

Because men are bigger and stronger. Therefore -
[ul][li]If fighting is necessary, men will need to be the ones who fight.[/li][li]If heavy lifting is necessary, men will need to be the ones to do it.[/li][li]Men are better equipped to dominate women. Men therefore need a code that mitigates more against dominating women, who are weaker.[/li][li]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.[/ul]Men and women are different. [/li]
With great power comes great responsibility. Men have more power. They must, therefore, be more responsible.


I have never seen a hornet’s nest kicked so thoroughly before.

Be a gentleman. It’s pretty much just that.