I’ve heard lots of people throwing around the term “toxic masculinity.” I don’t think that is helpful, because the discussions seems to often contain, the if some, then all fallacy both in terms of men and masculinity. All masculinity is not toxic. There is this idea that all manly men are awful, that is inherit to their manliness to be a brute. Some of these people are the feminists and the others are the neanderthal men, they have totally opposite viewpoints on this subject, but they espouse the same fallacy.
Manly men can be sweet. Mild men can be awful. Being brash and swaggering doesn’t equal being a manly man, but it does mean you are a lout! Not being brash doesn’t mean you are a good person! Guys can pride themselves on not being the loud sporty ones assuming they have some sort of virtue when they are exhibiting the lack thereof in their spitefulness. Sweetness doesn’t make you less manly, that comes from other traits. Lack of a certain trait doesn’t mean having a positive virtue.
I thought first of this in terms of Lord of the Rings movies, when a male mentioned how manly Gimli was (ugh) in contrast to the rather effeminate elves (we will leave off discussions of the books and accuracy for this discussion and focus on the movies). As if those were the only options, neanderthal or dainty princeling (I’m exaggerating, the actions of the elves weren’t effeminate their looks and styling were). I think this is what the discussion often is, this false dichotomy. In this dichotomy, the men, Aragorn (or my favorite) Eomer are ignored. Masculine in physical appearance, in action yet courteous. Real manly men.
We were talking about my Mom’s extended family (and this applies to my brother also), no one would look at them and think of them as anything other than manly men, yet they are very sweet, much sweeter than the women of the family often (some of us are a domineering group!).
Back to LotR, I came across this on (I’m embarrased to admit) twitter the other day, Are You an An Aragorn Girl or a Legolas Girl. I’m an Eomer woman thank-you very much!