This has been a thread I’ve wanted to make for a while but I’ve hesitated to for fear of it going badly. Recent events, however, have made me think it’s a topic that’s we can’t really afford to ignore.
When people read the phrase “toxic masculinity”, some see a clear collection of bad behaviors or mindsets that exist independent of men as a whole, while some see an indictment of an entire gender or identity. I’ve talked to men who have admitted to not knowing how to be masculine without being “toxic”because they can’t see a clear line where one ends and the other begins.
Thus, I’m interested in exploring what specifically gets defined as “toxic masculinity” and how we distinguish it from neutral or positive masculinity.
Part of what has kept me from asking this is that I see in people here two different experiences that I fear might collide in bad ways. I know we have people here (myself included) who have been directly harmed by behaviors and mindsets that would fall under the umbrella of “toxic masculinity”. Likewise, I know we have people here who have been harmed by an over-application of the phrase — being seen or treated as “toxic” simply for being men and thus being denied the dignity of their own identity. Giving credence to one experience can feel like it overrides the other.
Even just the phrase itself is the kind of thing that often divides people into camps and causes conflict, and I’m hoping we can avoid that here. (Though, to be honest, Tildes always impresses me with how we handle difficult topics, so I’m not sure where my worry is coming from). My goal for this topic is for everyone to have the opportunity to speak openly to convey understood truths and lived experiences in ways that maintain dignity for everyone involved.
The guiding question is about distinguishing masculinity from toxic masculinity, but answers don’t have to be limited to that. I’m interested in hearing about people’s relationship with masculinity in general, both in people who identify with it and those who don’t.