Toxic Masculinity

Yeah I’m going there.

Prologue: My goals and an important caveat

Intro: Why am I writing this?

Of course it’s not ALL men, thats obvious and not the point at all.

‘Not All Men!’ is the toxic male version of ‘All Lives Matter’

It’s whataboutism and a general glossing over of the central problem.

There’s something wrong with men. Not all men. But there’s a huge problem with a lot of them.

…that not all men make more money than all women, only most; that not all men are rapists, only some; that not all men are promiscuous killers, only some; that not all men control Congress, the Presidency, the police, the army, industry, agriculture, law, science, medicine, architecture, and local government, only some. Joanna Russ

Men are more likely to kill, rob, rape or go to prison.

Men are much more violent, especially towards women.

It's inherent in our biology. Why?

Chapter 1: In the beginning there was man

Ponytail. It used to be cool for Neaderthals. Homeboy could rock a man bun without abuse

In the old days, it was much easier to be a man. You simply went outside the cave, killed a gnu (wildebeest). I prefer wild boar, but I digress… and brought it home to your woman, who was taking care of the cave and raising your recalcitrant progeny. Sex was questionably consensual and the male role was fighter, hunter and father.

Then something happened. We evolved into a civilised society full of social constructs, desk jobs and Superdry (eurgh).

Fight Club was the first time I really understood the paradox of being a man. The story of an underground sect of bored and frustrated men who beat the shit out of each other for fun. Their lives were just boring admin jobs, they were all neutered emasculated drones, cosplaying happiness.

Fight Club. Super macho yet strangely a bit gay.

Monogamy, social skills, cheese and wine parties, all this under an umbrella canard of ‘Male privilege’, makes most men want to throw up. We simply weren’t designed to be this civilised. And its fucking tough being a man. But thats simply no excuse for our behaviour.

Chapter 2: Defining ‘Maleness’ AKA the paradox of man

Thankfully this binary horsecrap on gender identity and stereotyping has been opened up by humans who feel empowered enough to challenge these conventions. And most men are way more feminine that they project, and their sexuality is much more fluid than they would like to admit. Here are some examples of ‘maleness’ being an ambigous contradiction.

Make up

King Louis XVI. Wigs, beauty marks, high heels and furry muffs (not those ones)

For millennia, stretching from 4000 BCE through the 18th century, men traditionally used makeup. Ancient Egypt, Rome, French royalty and even the golden age of Hollywood, REAL men wore long hair, makeup, dresses and feminity was considered attractive in men.

Rugger Bugger

Men love communal baths. In sport its OK, but any other context it’s gay? Thats daft AF

After the game its a different story, they all get naked, jump in a giant hot tub and sing songs about each other genitals. The post match vibe is a great example of what REAL men actually do, especially with some Champagne/Prosecco and a giant buttplug-shaped trophy.

Pirate Gay

Prison Gay

Prison sexuality is an issue that has been commonly misunderstood because of the taboo involved. But IMO its a wonderful example of the complexities of social construct and conditioning of the perception of male identity.

Guys, it ok to be effeminate, you are a product of your enviroment. Yes you are FREE to be whatever you want.

Chapter 4: Domestic abuse and conditioning

A third of domestic abuse is perpetrated against men. And thats just the stuff that is reported. Image going to your friends or the police and admitting that your woman partner is abusing you.

In every relationship, when it ends due to aggressive behaviour, anger, violence and verbal abuse, the output is usually the following:

The man abused the women. “I don’t know what I did, he was so horrible to me” (aka what a bastard). This is because toxic male behaviour is really easy to spot. Toxic female behaviour is so stealthy its easy to blame men for the issues in a relationship. Toxic female behaviour is conditioning, nagging, controlling and emasculating, over years, gradually picking away until the man feels like he is going mad. At this point the guy either leaves the relationship (I did), or goes postal.

Again, no excuse for mens behaviour but its something worth unpacking in the spirit of mutual understanding.

Chapter 5: Boys Don’t Cry

The Cure for toxic masculinity?

Robert Smith of The Cure once sang “Boys Don't Cry”

Whilst marinating in the irony of once of the least masculine men, singing about one of the most masculine tropes, well thats a bingo.

Crying, only humans do this. Why do we cry?

Nick Knight believes there is a simple explanation for emotional tears. He claims your emotional response to events originates in your limbic system which is hard wired to your nervous system. When you feel like crying, your emotions alert your nervous system which instructs your tears to flow.

The truth is that men find it hard to cry. Which sucks because crying is soooo healthy. It releases Oxytocin, the love chemical. If men felt more comfortable having a good cry then wed have less anger and frustration in men. Again there are patriarchal reasons why men don’t cry (“man up and stop sniffling” etc) and also biological ones.

Science: Men have significantly lower levels of prolactin (a hormone found in emotional tears) compared with women.

Social: Men are taught by society not to show weakness. This leads to a buildup of anxiety, stress and rather than an ostensibly healthy and acceptable outlet (a good cry), and a longer process of healing, they subconsciously go down a more proto-masculine route, anger, rudeness, violence (punching the little guy in the pub)

“It just makes me so angry… I’m gonna find a little bloke and have a fight”

– Rodney Trotter, Only Fools and Horses.

Chapter 6: Incel culture and the Alt Right

These men are the worst. I’m honestly scared to write about them and so will do that in a seperate article once I’ve set up my alias. But regard this as a critical placeholder.

Chapter 7: Fathers and Sons

“But dad, you only have an electric shaver”

All the times that I’ve cried
Keeping all the things I knew inside
It’s hard, but it’s harder to ignore it
If they were right I’d agree
But it’s them they know, not me
Now there’s a way
And I know that I have to go away
I know I have to go

As a father, the most important thing you can teach your little boy is to respect women. Everything else is a bonus, but the silver bullet of fathering is producing a son who is kind and respectful to the fairer sex. Teach the basiscs of toxic behaviour, violence is wrong, consent is right, relationshiop red flags, poor life choices, how to express emotions properly. The birds and the bees should not just be about sexual reproduction, more about attitudes to sex, consent, responsibilities and equality.

Outro. Ok lets wrap this up

Modern men — The Menoverse AKA Men 3.0

One of the very best episodes of television in history, written by the great John Sullivan.

Modern men need to start normalising non-toxic behaviour, stop cat calling women, be ok with being metrosexual, get in touch with their feminine side and buy some decent candles (ok I made that bit up)

Being a man has nothing to do with being manly. Here are some tips:

Call out bad behaviour in your buddies, your father and any other man in your life who perpetuates this behaviour.

Stop staring. You can get in trouble for it now.

Seriously, stop staring at women, its just creepy.

A senior police officer has said sexually motivated staring at people on the London Underground should be prosecuted, and a man was sentenced to prison for such behaviour last month.

Be a feminist ally. This one is difficult. Get some platonic women friends. Support feminist causes and be a nice guy. Sure, most women won’t take you seriously once you pronounce these virtues. Its going to take years to get this trust back.

Educate yourself. Read some stuff. Get woke (this word needs to be reclaimed back from the right wing press by any means necessary)

Learn to be vulnerable. The more you do this, the less you’ll display toxic male behaviours. Vulnerability is an amazingly healthy power-up.

Its not weak to care. To have empathy, to cry, to be aware and raise awareness.

Thanks for reading x

Dedicated to Sarah Everard.

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Mat Venn

Designer. Dad. Cyclist. Runner. Flâneur. Autodidact. Piano student. Writer of intelligent balderdash. Fondue enthusiast. Hopeless romantic