Conservatives Still Misunderstanding and Misrepresenting the Concepts / Terms Toxic Masculinity and Traditional Masculinity – The Christian Post Editorial by M. Brown
A very brief reminder of who I am or what I believe:
I used to be a Christian gender complementarian, but I left complementarianism years ago, and I now question (but did not reject altogether) the Christian faith.
I do not identify as a feminist for reasons I explain here.
I remain a conservative but left the Republican Party approximately three years ago.
(In other words, I am not a liberal, I not a feminist, and I am not an atheist.)
In the past few weeks, debates and conversations about the concepts and phrases of “Traditional Masculinity” and “Toxic Masculinity” broke out once again thanks to the APA and a television commercial by razor company Gillette.
A few days ago, I was skimming the headlines at The Christian Post site and stopped to read this, by a Michael Brown:
In that editorial, the author, Brown, discusses Traditional Masculinity and Toxic Masculinity (in this post of mine, I will pretty much use both phrases interchangeably).
In that editorial, Brown linked to a Tweet he made, in which he inserted a Twitter poll, asking ‘who has things worse, men or women.’
After I finished reading Brown’s editorial on The Christian Post site, it was evident to me he has a flawed understanding of what the term “Toxic Masculinity” means, so I tweeted at him to say as much, and I was very polite through the entire exchange.
I did not use profanity, lose my temper, engage in name-calling or personal attack (ad hominem) when tweeting to Brown.
If you are already familiar with me from other blogs, compare how I treated Brown with how I treat the insufferable, condescending, complementarian “KAS” over at Julie Anne’s “Spiritual Sounding Board” blog: Brown got the kid glove treatment from me. KAS only wishes I would treat him in as genteel a fashion as I did with Brown.
Yet Brown actually complained to me twice that I was insulting him (I was not – more on this later).
Very early on, in the first or second tweet I sent to Brown, I sent him a link to this blog post of mine, which contains a short introduction by me with excerpts by two other authors:
When Brown replied to me on Twitter, he thanked me for sharing that link with him – but my feeling is that he didn’t bother to read my post.
When I pressed him (politely) on the matter, he replied that he had already done extensive research of what “radical feminists” have written on the topic.
Brown, I take it, arrogantly assumes he is already an expert on the subject of Toxic Masculinity, so he obviously understands it quite well and has no need of reading any more on the subject.
He is convinced he already knows the topic well and has a correct understanding of it and so won’t read further, or even ponder if maybe he has the topic wrong.
Now, I’m not exactly sure who or what “radical feminists” are (there are about a billion different species of feminists in the wild, one reason of ten why I do not identify as a feminist), but – in common, every day usage, most every day feminists and liberals (and conservatives who agree with the concept of Toxic Masculinity) do not understand and define Toxic Masculinity (or Traditional Masculinity) in the way that Brown did in his CP (Christian Post) article or in his Tweets to me.
I did tell him that while I’m sure one probably can find a minority of kook crack-pots out there, or a sliver of “radical feminists”, who probably write things such as ‘ALL men are evil baby rapists, ALL masculinity is EVIL’ and so on, that the vast majority of feminists and liberals do not believe those things.
I can only guess that Brown has read a small number of cherry-picked, “anti men” (misandrist) screeds written by extremist liberal feminists in some obscure women’s studies academic journals somewhere and is either assuming all feminists believe in that way, or he’s deliberately using the “worst” of feminists to paint all feminists as being wack-a-doodle man-haters.
(Using the most nutty, weird, and extreme from among liberal feminists by which to smear them all and misrepresent them and their views is a practice that is quite common with conservative talk and radio show hosts, such as Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham, which I’ve mentioned before.
A reminder: I am saying this as a right winger who actually tunes in and listens to Tucker Carlson and several other right wing hosts.)
Meanwhile, I, as a conservative, am tuning in to what feminists and liberals mean and believe when they toss out terms such as “Toxic Masculinity” by reading and visiting mainstream liberal sites, of common every day liberal people, such as Slate, Vox, Jezebel, Raw Story, Huffington Post, and by reading the comments left under articles and editorials on such sites by everyday, common, feminists.
If one bothers to spend a lot of time reading comments by everyday, average, honest to God liberal feminists in the comment section on liberal sites, as I’ve done the last few years, one finds there are a lot of biological women who are married to biological men who have children, sons and daughters.
These women, who identify as liberal and feminist, love their husbands and their sons. They are not the family-, baby-, and man- haters that so many conservatives assume they are.
Who Has Things Harder?
Before I return to discussing my Twitter exchange with Brown, I wanted to discuss his essay on The Christian Post,
First of all, I find the title to be a put off. Under systemic sexism, girls and women ‘have things harder.’ That should not even be up for dispute.
Of course, sexism can have its negative impact on boys and men too, as author Carolyn Custis James wrote about in one of her books, which she discussed in interviews, such as this one:
What isn’t often acknowledged is the fact that not all men are beneficiaries of patriarchy, for patriarchy also places some men over other men. Patriarchy organizes human society by hierarchal pyramids with only limited (and ultimately temporary) room at the top and where the top is only sustained by a well-populated base that includes not just women and girls, but a majority of men and boys.
(Source: On Biblical Manhood: A Q&A with Author Carolyn Custis James)
But who bears the brunt of male-on-female sexism?
Who gets raped, beaten by a spouse in marriage (and told by Christians to just endure it), and sold into sex slavery more often? Who gets sexually objectified in ads and movies more often? Who gets groped on jobs and told to put up with it or be fired? Who has to worry more often about being raped while on jogs, or while walking to their car at night while leaving the grocery store? Girls and women. Not boys and men.
Victimhood Mentality and Victim Culture
If you’re a conservative, you more than likely believe in the concepts of personal responsibility and “pick yourself up by your bootstrap-ism,” so, you probably hold a lot of contempt for what you perceive as “Liberal or Feminist Victimhood Mentality” where anytime a feminist mentions legitimate grievances – problems girls and women have in culture – you automatically begin screaming, “Victimhood culture! Victimhood culture!”
However, in the past few years, I’ve been seeing more and more conservatives proclaiming boys and men to be victims in our culture. See this post for more on that:
In addition to putting up with many of the dangers and annoyances of life that men do, girls and women also endure many dangers and annoyances that boys and men do not – and that boys and men remain blind to, and they act incredulous when we women describe our experiences to them.
See this post for more on that:
The Women Who Sell-Out Their Own Interests
Again, from the page by Brown, describing the results of a non-scientific poll he placed on his Twitter:
So, it was not just the men who felt it was harder to be a man today. The women agreed as well, slightly more emphatically.
Brown is a conservative Christian, so I would take it that most of whom who follow him on Twitter are probably also conservative Christian.
Seeing women defer to men and defend the sexist status quo – especially conservative Christian ones doing so – is not surprising.
I have a few posts on my blog about why some women act as sell-outs to their biological sex (I too used to buy into conservative propaganda about feminists and would think to myself, “maybe men have life more difficult than women and feminists are just exaggerating,” but I know better now).
Here are a few of those posts, on this blog:
The Caveats and Qualifiers
In his editorial, Brown makes a few concessions and caveats, such as:
It’s not hard to list the many challenges women face in America. (Although I failed to specify “America” in my poll, the great majority of my Twitter followers are American.)
…There’s much more possibility of you being sexually assaulted or harassed.
There are settings in which you will not be given an equal opportunity or compensated with full equality.
Then we get to this remark by Brown:
In short, our society celebrates feminism. The word “masculinism,” which apparently exists on paper, is virtually never used.
About our culture not using the term “masculinism” and supposedly (note the use of the word supposedly) celebrating feminism:
That is so, because our culture is already patriarchal.
Our society already tilts to favor boys and men – women did not even get the right to vote until the 1920s.
“Feminism” was needed to get equality for women.
(And briefly, I find, as a conservative woman, that our culture demonizes feminism. The only ones who “celebrate it” are feminists, so I don’t know what planet Brown is residing on to declare otherwise.)
American women could not even hold a credit card in their own name until the 1970s.
Marital rape is still legally permitted in some states (some men even deny there is even such a thing because they feel that marriage entitles them to sex whenever and however they want it, their wife’s wishes be damned).
American men have not consistently and historically faced such insulting, unfair limitations or atrocities due to their biological sex alone, not at the hands of women.
No White History Month
It’s rather like a white person asking, “Hey, how come there’s a Black History Month but no White History Month?”
The reason would be we have a Black History Month and not a designated White History Month because our society already heavily favors white people – black people, not so much (in our society, it was legal in some parts of the nation for white people to own black people as slaves, and blacks didn’t get the right to vote until 1870).
Every month has been White History Month since our nation’s founding. That is why we do not have or need a “white history month.”
The entire twelve months of the year are already “white history month” and have been since the start of the nation.
By the same token, every day, every month is already Masculinity Day or Men’s Day, and it’s been that way since Day One of our nation’s founding. Our culture has been celebrating “Masculinism” since its beginning.
The follwoing comes from a mainstream liberal site, whose author is discussing sexism and asking other liberals to hold all liberals, not just conservatives, responsible for trying to eradicate sexism.
Being a feminist man who doesn’t personally abuse women is like being a white person who isn’t personally racist. Upending this long-standing system of oppression will take more than good personal behavior.
… All men, even the “good men,” must also recognize the structures that are in place to maintain male hegemony.
These structures are still very much intact among progressives, where good men may be enabling the abuse of women even when they are not aware of it.
….In order to effect broad change, the key vehicle will be changing the toxic aspects of received masculinity, particularly through early interventions to prevent harm to another generation of children.
As revealed by the ensuing controversy after the Gillette commercial, which challenged men to confront toxic masculinity within themselves and other men, these efforts will be met with fierce resistance and defensiveness.
Patriarchy is fueled by “male fragility” in similar ways that white supremacy is maintained by “white fragility.”
Men need to be part of the conversation on gender justice, but they must also be willing to investigate their own role in contributing to the oppression of women — even if it is unknowing.
Continuing, Brown writes:
As for “masculinity” – a word that we do use – it is almost a dirty word. It is toxic, the subject of college seminars where male students can address their fundamentally flawed nature.
What does it even mean to be a “real man”? Just being male is bad, while words containing “man” must be excised.
The phrase TM (Toxic Masculinity), in common usage by everyday feminists and everyday liberals – and by some conservatives and by egalitarian Christians – does not mean that masculinity is a dirty word, that all of masculinity is toxic, that all men have a flawed nature, that “being male is bad.”
It is true that some feminists want to remove the words “men,” “man,” or “his” from some words, a topic I personally am agnostic about.
Sometimes, some feminists do, in my view, over-reach with such rhetoric.
I don’t much care one way or another if the word “His,” for instance, is removed from “History” to change it to “Her-story” or “Their-story.”
However, I will point out that much of our language, TV roles, and movies and most English Bible translations, have, for decades, used male-centric language.
Further, concerning our entertainment, everything from movies to video games, most always feature white, 30-something year old, male protagonists.
As such, I fail to see how one can fault or blame non-white people or women from getting tired of not seeing people of their skin color or biological sex depicted more often on film or in books or in equal proportion to men or white people.
Further, for years, when I saw phrases in articles or books, such as,
“When an author writes a book HE must blah blah blah,”
I would mentally substitute it as such,
“When an author writes a book SHE must blah blah blah.”
A lot of women do that sort of thing. When I sat through movies such as Star Wars, that mostly have white, male protagonists, I would mentally insert myself, a female, into the male hero role and go with it.
If changes are made, and more movie roles go to women, or most language uses “she” as a pronoun, men and boys everywhere can start mentally substituting themselves into the roles or pages as girls and women have been doing for decades now.
May I also add that Brown is conflating and confusing topics here.
That some feminists may or may not want to engage in ideas that come across as loony – such as switching out “Frosty the Snowman” to “Frosty the Snowpersun” – in an article that is presumably supposed to be mainly about Toxic Masculinity is disingenuous.
The language inclusion topic is an issue that has more to do with women being excluded, or feeling excluded, in culture than it does with Toxic Masculinity; it’s not a misandrist stance to simply want to see one’s own biological sex more fairly represented in books, movies, or language.
Blind to What Women Endure and Doesn’t Understand What They Mean
As a male, if you’re too friendly to women, you’re sexist.
If you’re not friendly enough, you’re discriminating against them unfairly.
If you take a female employee or co-worker out to dinner, your ultimate goal is to get her in bed.
If you don’t take her out, you’re not giving her the same opportunity you give to men.
If you’re nurturing and protective – or, if you simply open a door for a woman – you’re an antiquated chauvinist.
If you don’t open the door, you’re selfish.
I can tell just from that set of examples that Brown has no idea what he’s talking about. There is an extreme amount of ignorance on display of what it means to live as a woman and put up with garbage from men in day to day life, in dating, on jobs.
It would behoove Brown to read the book “Why Does He Do That” by Lundy Bancroft (available on Google Books), especially the chapter or two towards the back where Bancroft explains how culture plays a role in why some boys grow up thinking that they are entitled to girls and women, why they feel girls and women “owe” them smiles, chats, dates, and sex, and get violent and hit or kill girls and women when they refuse to smile at them, chat them up, or have sex with them.
No feminist – or any woman I’ve come across – thinks that a man “being friendly” is tantamount to being sexist.
To suggest that is ridiculous, to really create a large straw-man, and in doing so, he is misrepresenting women generally and feminists specifically (as he does through out this article). This is not being honest or accurate.
What some men do not understand:
there’s a difference between “being friendly” and engaging in stalking, creepy, or possessive behavior.
A lot of men who say they are “nice guys” are, in reality, entitled creepers who also identify as “incels” on message boards. These are the same men who claim that feminism is bad and wrong, too.
Some of these types of men go so far as to murder women when women turn them down for sex or dates. And a lot of these dateless, lonely heart, frustrated virgin men don’t respect women’s boundaries, and they cannot handle women’s rejection – some of these men either actually murder women or they plot to do so but police catch them first.
It’s very difficult, as a woman, to explain to men (especially ones like Brown) the daily and weekly injustices, from small to large, we women face.
I could spend the rest of this blog post attempting to explain all this, but it would be too long.
Brown and men like him will never “get it,” unless, perhaps, he gets magically sucked into a woman’s body and has to live as a woman for a year or longer.
As in this case:
(Please note: by providing those links, I am NOT advocating transgenderism. I am only pointing out that people who go from female to male have said they notice men treat them differently- better- after they present as male.)
Brown writes (presumably, this is his (very flawed) understanding of what women or feminists are saying):
If you take a female employee or co-worker out to dinner, your ultimate goal is to get her in bed.
That is highly inaccurate: it’s not feminists proclaiming this.
Who promotes that line of thinking? Why, it’s conservatives, those champions of Traditional Masculinity, especially Christian conservatives and social conservatives, who believe in and promote the moronic, ineffective “Billy Graham Rule,” which some have taken to refer to as the”Mike Pence Rule.”
Many conservatives, the complementarian Christian ones especially, teach many falsehoods, such as only men should be leaders and they should lead women, BUT, men are, they also teach, incapable of controlling their sexual behaviors and urges.
Ergo, conservatives conclude, men should never, ever meet alone with women, not even women co-workers in public places such as restaurants for lunch, because men will always rape, or try to have sex with, every woman they meet.
Men are just programmed or “designed by God” to behave this way, to be hyper-sexed tom cats who cannot control themselves around women, they assume (they are incorrect: it’s due to social conditioning).
So, conservatives teach that men are sex beasts around women but men should also lead women.
If all men are rapists, why do conservatives believe men should lead women, since they lack basic sexual ethics and self control?
Brown writes (source),
If you’re nurturing and protective – or, if you simply open a door for a woman – you’re an antiquated chauvinist.
What Brown is referring to there is Benevolent Sexism.
He’s probably not familiar with that concept, and if he reads about it, he’s going to more than likely automatically dismiss it as being misandrist or ridiculous – though it’s very much a real thing that can and does harm girls and women.
“Toxic Masculinity” Does Not Mean All Men Are Bad
Brown writes (quoting French) (source),
Today, as David French points out, it’s “the American Psychological Association” which “wrongly declares war on ‘traditional masculinity.’”
Something is fundamentally wrong with you as a “traditional male.”
French writes, “It is interesting that in a world that otherwise teaches boys and girls to ‘be yourself,’ that rule often applies to everyone but the ‘traditional’ male who has traditional male impulses and characteristics. Then, they’re a problem.
Then, they’re often deemed toxic.
Combine this reality with a new economy that doesn’t naturally favor physical strength and physical courage to the same extent, and it’s easy to see how men struggle.”
Note again: the phrase is “Toxic Masculinity,” it is not “Masculinity is Toxic.” This is a point that is lost on both French and on Brown.
The phrase – especially when seen in “popular” usage, not in academic “radical feminist” literature – is not saying that all of masculinity is toxic, only that a portion of gendered stereotypes taught to boys can harm boys (and girls).
For example, one component of TM is that boys (and men) should not show any emotion, except for anger, because boys and men are supposed to never show weakness, never cry in front of others, should be self-reliant and “be tough.”
If a boy becomes sad and cries openly because his pet dog has died, a lot of men (and other boys) may shame that boy and tell him, “You shouldn’t cry. Crying is for cissies! Crying is for girls! Suck it up, buttercup and get over it.”
(By the way, I pause to remind any readers that my father largely socialized my sister and myself to be, think, and act like stereotypical boys, while my mother – and the Baptist churches they dragged us to – was socializing both of us to be, think, and act like stereotypical girls, so I have at least a small taste of what it’s like to be shamed or criticized for openly displaying qualities that are considered un-masculine.)
At any rate, one negative consequence of culture and men teaching boys that it is shameful and wrong for boys or men to weep, express sadness, and so on, is that some of these boys and men can internalize the emotional pain, never discuss it, feel too ashamed to visit a therapist, which can further result in depression and suicide.
Teaching or pressuring boys and men to stifle their emotions, which can result in mental health problems, is just one form Toxic Masculinity can take (for further reading, see this off-site page, this page, or this page).
That is one that happens to affect men – but many of the others negatively affect girls and women. This is one of the things the APA statement on Traditional Masculinity was attempting to rectify, which guys like Brown and French are having hissy fits about.
The Gillette Advertisement Is Endorsing Biblical Concepts
Brown writes (source),
French also draws attention to two, anti-male razor ads, one by Gillette (from this month) and one by Harry’s (in 2017), noting, “If you want to see the difference between a rather awkward attack on truly toxic masculinity and a frontal assault on actual masculine virtue, then look no farther than this 2017 Twitter ad from Harry’s.”
I’m not familiar with the ad by Harry’s, but as to the Gillette advertisement: the Gillette commercial is not “anti man,” nor is it “anti masculinity.”
To keep arguing that it is both or either is extremely dishonest or at the very least, to be more charitable, shows a complete lack of understanding of what the ad was communicating.
The Gillette ad is pointing out that often, boys are socialized to think it’s acceptable or manly to do things such as engage in fist fights, to talk over women in meetings (otherwise known as “man-splaining,” which is sexist), and the ad asks men to please teach boys that these things are not requirements to be “manly” or “masculine.”
The Bible also teaches these lessons:
Jesus of Nazareth grew up in a very patriarchal culture, yet he regularly bucked the sexist norms of his day and culture to teach women, debate women, and to treat women with respect, moves which shocked the religious leaders of his era as well as his male disciples.
The Bible teaches men to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and it asks all believers, regardless of biological sex to submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21).
The Bible, contra complementarians, teaches men not to lord authority over anyone – which would include their wives, if they are married (Matthew 20: 25, 26).
The Bible tells believers to put themselves last, to be gentle and kind – men are not excluded from such sensitive, supposedly “girly” rules and commands.
The Bible, in other words, is asking all believers, including men, to engage in behaviors some cultures consider feminine.
The Bible is teaching men to behave in the opposite manner of what Toxic Masculinity dictates men “should” behave.
Is Brown saying that men doing things such as talking over women in meetings, or boys using physical violence to settle arguments, is biblical and good, and should be encouraged?
The Bible says blessed are the peace-makers, and asks individuals to turn the other cheek in some situations – it’s not advocating that physical force, violence, and revenge, be used in any and all situations.
If not, if Brown would say that no, boys should not use violence in all situations or should not talk over women co-workers in meetings and so on, why is Brown ragging on and criticizing the Gillette Ad and related content so much?
Male Vs. Female Vs. HUMAN Traits
Brown writes (source),
The Harry’s ad, he explains, ‘takes masculine aspirational statements — like ‘be tough,’ ‘be a rock,’ ‘be a man,’ and ‘be the breadwinner’ — and crosses them out. It’s so over-the-top that it’s almost like a parody of modern woke attacks on masculinity. Whereas the Gillette’s message is, ‘Bad things are bad,’ Harry’s message is, ‘Good things are bad.’”
Being tough, being a breadwinner – and other traits, such as being assertive, brave, out-spoken, and a risk taker, are neither masculine or feminine traits.
They are HUMAN traits.
The book of Genesis says that God created male AND female “in his image.”
The Bible further says that God is a spirit and does not have a physical body, male or female.
One can find examples in the Bible, of women, such as Deborah and Jael, who demonstrated courage, risk taking, and assertiveness.
Jesus Is the Role Model, Not Cultural Ideas of Manhood or Womanhood
The Bible calls all believers, male and female, to emulate Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ displayed all qualities our culture has categorized as “masculine” and “feminine,” such as toughness, gentleness, humility, assertiveness, tenderness, compassion, and empathy.
When Jesus was at the tomb of Lazarus, the Bible says that “Jesus wept.”
Jesus did not hold in his sad feels and put on a tough guy, stoic, John Wayne facial expression because he was embarrassed to feel sad, or to think the men present would mock him for showing tears, or to think he had to live up to what Christians today would dub ‘Biblical Manhood’ or what Brown would call “Traditional Masculinity.”
Under Toxic Masculinity, or Brown’s “Traditional Masculinity,” Jesus of Nazareth would be considered by T.M. advocates of being a wimpy, girly, emasculated man. Jesus would be insultingly referred to as a “Woke, liberal feminist” and be told to “Man up.”
The Bible calls Christians, both men and women, to emulate Jesus of Nazareth, not to emulate or live up to cultural gender stereotypes of what it means to “be a man” or “be a woman.”
Please see this post for more:
Some women, by the way, never marry, or their husband dies, meaning, a woman has no choice but to get a college education and hold a career in order to pay her bills. Women are therefore, sometimes, “breadwinners.”
Being a “breadwinner” is neither a masculine nor feminine trait.
See this post:
So, Men Being Humble, Optimistic, or Introspective are… Bad Things?
Brown writes (source) – and I take it Brown is quoting from an ad or set of social media postings by “Harry’s”,
“Now more than ever, being a man demands introspection, humility, and optimism. To get to a better tomorrow, we need to take a look at today, and at the misguided stereotypes that got us here in the first place. . . .”
[Comment by Brown in response]:
There you have it, in a word: Just being a man “demands introspection, humility, and optimism.”
Does the Bible not teach that all people are sinners and are, or can be, prone to being selfish, lording authority over one another, and engaging in other negative behaviors or thought patterns?
And God did say in Genesis, to Eve, the first woman, that one result of sin entering the human race is that men would seek to control women – which men have in fact done for centuries now, across many cultures.
(And again, women had to fight to gain their rights, even in the United States: the right to vote, to merely hold a credit card in their own name, etc.
Men did not just grant women those rights, nor did men even realize that women were putting up with that sexist crap until women spoke up and pointed out it was unfair and that it was a problem. Many men are blind to the problems that don’t personally impact their biological sex.)
I do believe it does.
So why does Brown take issue with some company asking men to be more humble and so on?
He Gets It Right Only Briefly
Brown writes (source),
Of course, there are negative male stereotypes and destructive male behaviors. Not everything “masculine” is good or praiseworthy.
Right there is the very brief portion of his editorial where he is offering an accurate understanding or description of Toxic Masculinity.
That is all most feminists (or others, such as the APA or Gillette Ad) are referring to when they are writing against or about “Toxic Masculinity” – “There are negative male stereotypes and destructive male behaviors. Not everything “masculine” is good or praiseworthy.” That is all they are conveying.
That is ALL the phrase “Toxic Masculinity” is referring to, nothing more. That is all the APA was criticizing in their paper about “Traditional Masculinity.”
Most feminists, the APA, and the Gillette Ad, were not saying that all men are bad, all masculinity is bad.
When Brown writes that feminists, or whomever, are trying to “emasculate men” (which is what he tweeted to me at one point), I ask, what does that mean?
What does it mean to “emasculate men?”
Does Brown mean to say that if a man shows qualities that American culture doesn’t categorize as “masculine,” but tends to associates with femininity, such as, but not limited to, meekness, passivity, compassion, empathy, tenderness, gentleness, and agreeableness, that those are “emasculating”?
If so, what is wrong with a man showing traits such as gentleness, humility, etc?
The Bible instructs men to have those qualities, and Jesus had those qualities. Is Brown saying the Bible is in error or that Jesus was emasculated?
If Brown means to say that men possessing traits, or being asked to master and exhibit traits that are considered feminine, is insulting to men on some level, that would be sexist against women.
Such a view would suggest that the feminine, or being feminine, is sub-standard, that female qualities, even if held by females, are not as worthy as masculine traits.
Femaleness, or anything female, is associated by traditional masculinity believers as being shameful or wrong and to be avoided.
The Bible indicates that the God of the Bible created all good traits in people, even the ones we think of as feminine, which I am supposing are traits that Brown views as “emasculating?”
Here’s another problem with that view:
Not all people fit neatly into either box of masculine or feminine.
We Don’t All Fit the Culturally Prescribed Gender Boxes
I was a tom boy. Even now, I’m a bit of a tom boy.
I don’t like wearing dresses. I pretty much dislike the color pink. As a kid, I never liked holding pretend tea parties, or doing some of the other girlhood tasks that our culture deems “feminine,” such as playing with Barbie dolls.
Not all boys fit the masculine box that Traditional Masculinity advocates think all boys and men should fit into.
Some boys are born with a quiet, introverted, artistic nature – they have no interest in stereotypical manly hobbies, such as watching NFL football or watching monster truck rallies.
Such boys would rather strum a guitar, write poetry, or read books about astronomy.
Guys such as Brown only recognize or respect one style of masculinity (and only one type of femininity) and so can end up shaming boys and girls who don’t fit these prescribed gender boxes.
That sort of thing can result in, for some people (and this is so ironic, considering traditional gender role proponents, especially Christian ones, think their world view can safeguard from this sort of thing):
Some of you anti-Toxic Masculinity and pro-Traditional Masculinity supporters end up creating some of the very problems in culture and in men and women that you later complain about.
Toxic Femininity – It’s Mostly A Product of Patriarchy (Surprise!)
Brown writes (source),
(The same can be said about certain aspects of female behaviors [i.e., that some are bad].)
In other words the “women are just as bad, so let’s just overlook society ingrained sexist behavior of men that men keep on perpetuating” argument. It does not fly.
I do believe one would be hard pressed to find any woman, even feminist ones, who declare that all women are innocent, perfect, little angels.
I myself have written on this blog and others before how I’ve been verbally abused by an older sister of mine, and I was harassed daily to weekly by one woman boss I had on one nine to five job I had.
I don’t know of anyone who believes that all women are good all the time or women are incapable of doing bad.
However, in most cultures, men have wielded most of the power and control – in careers, in marriage, in every area.
When the “Me Too” hash tag became a phenomenon in 2017, the vast majority of sexual abuse victims who came forward were women – and their abusers were men, not other women.
Most child sex abuse cases are male-on-female, as are most domestic violence cases.
Most serial killers are men, not women.
I saw a documentary about an American female serial killer (last name: Wuornos) – and the program kept harping on how shocked the nation was, and how shocked the police were, when they discovered the serial killer they were after was a woman, because women serial killers are such an aberration.
Promoters of Traditional Gender Roles Program Women to Act In Ways They Later Complain About
By the way, most of the female behaviors that men complain about are usually socially conditioned into women via patriarchy.
One quick example: women being passive aggressive and manipulative. Men complain about this all the time.
As part of our social indoctrination in churches that teach complementarianism and via secular culture, we women are taught as girls that it is inappropriate and unfeminine for us to communicate directly, to show anger openly. We women are discouraged from being direct, blunt, and showing anger or displeasure; we are supposed to remain gentle, sweet, accommodating, and nurturing at all times.
Whenever we women step outside of those gender stereotypes to be blunt, confrontational, we get chided for “trying to act like men.”
We women get told we are “bitchy,” or we get insults tossed at us such as “ball breaker” or “bossy,” if we are direct or assertive.
We women get the message early in life that only boys and men are allowed to be blunt, strong, and assertive with no penalties.
Then you have some complementarian Christians (who strongly believe in traditional gender roles and behavior), such as John Piper, who further teach, in books, articles, blogs, or sermons, to Christian women, to communicate in a very indirect way with men, because if we women do not, they say, we will hurt the man’s ego.
You can read more about that on this off-site page:
Cultures that support traditional gender roles, the ones Brown is so fond of, force or pressure women into these boxes, to behave in culturally-approved “feminine” ways, then guys like Brown turn around and complain about how women behave.
If women don’t behave according to socially sanctioned and expected ways, we pay for that, too. Women are put into a no-win situation.
I also wrote a bit more about some of this here:
And this page discusses the situation:
From that page:
Thus, descriptive gender stereotypes can lead to prejudice and discrimination based on a perceived incongruency between gender stereotypes and role requirements, and prescriptive stereotypes can also produce prejudice if individuals violate gender norms (e.g., Burgess and Borgida, 1999; Heilman, 2001; Eagly and Karau,2002).
Specifically, the angry, moral outrage created by the violation of prescriptive stereotypes can lead to backlash, or social or economic penalties for the stereotype violator (e.g., dislike or not being hired for a position).
Rudman et al. (2012a,b) posit that backlash against both female and male targets works to maintain the status hierarchy and keep men in high status positions, but limits agentic women’s access to these same positions.
For example, women who violate prescriptive stereotypes by acting dominant are disliked and therefore less likely to be hired even though they are seen as competent (Rudman et al., 2012a).
Men can also be the recipients of backlash when they violate prescriptive stereotypes by lacking agency and showing weakness (Moss-Racusin et al., 2010; see summary by Rudman et al., 2012a).
Brown writes (source),
But, today, simply to be a man – whatever that may be – is bad. God forbid we celebrate that manhood.
Our society – politics, the workplace, the institution of marriage – has been celebrating “manhood” since its very foundations. Men, masculinity, and manhood have been the default for all things in our nation since the start.
And so, men have been getting away with sexism and exploiting women for eons, until very recently, thanks to movements such as “me too,” where, for the first time, our nation seems to be taking sexual harassment against women by men seriously – or at least attempting to.
Now, a lot of men are shaking in their boots in fear – and some act annoyed and angry – that things they used to take for granted before they can no longer take for granted. And I don’t feel sorry for them.
And again, the phrase “Toxic Masculinity” is not saying “to be a man is bad.” For Brown or other writers to keep arguing that is what the phrase means is dishonest, sloppy, and inaccurate.
Womahood Only Celebrated Narrowly: Wifehood, Motherhood
The only time our nation has ever celebrated womanhood has been restricted to sexist stereotypes: Motherhood and wifehood.
Even though the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 7 it is better to remain single (and celibate and childless), our nation, including Christians, only value women in so far as women are subservient to a husband and have a child or two.
Women such as me who remain single (never marry) and who do not have children are disdained, scorned, or assumed to be man-hating harpies, or regarded with pity or as being some kind of failure or weirdo, etc.
He Diminishes the Sexism Women Endure… But Then Says He Isn’t Diminishing the Sexism Women Endure
After having written all that…
Brown writes (source),
Again, there are many challenges faced by females in today’s society, and I’m not minimizing them in the least. And there cannot be a definitive answer to the question posed in my poll (and in this article).
But he just did that very thing.
Brown just spent an entire paper diminishing all the many obstacles women have had to put up with for decades, and one way he did that was to indirectly argue that men are treated like scum in our nation, all for merely having abusive forms of masculinity called out, while he seems to assume that womanhood is and has always been given a pass or celebrated (even though women didn’t get the right to even vote until 1920).
Women and girls in America and around the world, have had to deal with all manner of unsavory things from small to large and significant, including, but not limited to, being-
cat-called by men (which is not a good thing, it’s dehumanizing and can be scary if one assumes the catcaller may also be a rapist),
to being raped,
sold into sex trafficking,
killed in honor killings,
forced into child marriages,
being recipients of forced female genital mutilation,
receiving lower pay for equal work,
being groped on jobs or on subways or other public locales,
being told if we don’t perform a sex act on the male boss that said boss will fire us,
not drinking alcohol when at parties or bars for fear a man may have dropped a date rape drug in it,
having to avoid walking through a grocery store parking lot alone at night for fear of being raped by a man,
learning several months into a relationship that our partner is abusive and may literally murder us if we leave him,
fear of jogging alone because one might be raped,
having moronic, dim-witted, arrogant male co-workers who don’t know as much as we do on Subject X act as though they are more intelligent than us about X and then explain X to us in a condescending manner, or talk over us in meetings….
I could go on and on with more examples that most men will never have to deal with simply because they are men.
Yes, Women Have It More Difficult Than Men Do
Yes, women have it more difficult in culture, because not only do women have to deal with many of the same issues that men do, but we also on top of those, have to deal with problems that exist due to sexism against women.
Issues men will never have to face – like an employer not wanting to hire you because you might become pregnant and want to take a few months off to have a baby, as but one example.
Brown writes (source),
At the least, though, we should recognize the many challenges faced by males as well. Society cannot flourish with a generation of emasculated men.
Toxic Masculinity – and even feminism – actually does what Brown and those like him do not do: recognizes challenges faced by men.
What do I mean? See example previously in this post about how men are pressured and shamed in our nation from seeking mental health help when they become depressed, because “real” men are supposed to be tough, stoic, and never, ever admit to being depressed, and should not see a therapist, because that would appear “weak.”
An advocate of Traditional Masculinity, such as Brown, would tell a male friend who comes to him admitting to being depressed, or to feeling sad or upset about something, to “suck it up, buttercup, and be a tough guy” because only feminine, girly girl, emasculated men would see a therapist or take anti-depressant medications, or want to talk about his sad feelings with a friend or therapist.
And again, what is “emasculated” mean to Brown? Does it mean men showing or admitting to having characteristics or feelings that society considers “feminine?” What is wrong with men having such feelings or traits?
Again, the Bible actually commands men to have those qualities – and the Bible also has examples of women who possess “masculine” traits, such as assertiveness, and God does not condemn those women from having those traits.
The Bible directs both men and women to imitate all of Christ, which means showing, having, and practicing traits considered masculine and feminine, because they are human qualities.
The Bible does not teach, and plain human lived experience shows, that neither biological sex, owns a monopoly on certain emotions or qualities, that only men can and should be brave, and that only women can and should show humility – but societies do indoctrinate people to behave according to cultural gendered stereotypes. -And Brown has fallen to that.
If You Believe the Phrase “Toxic Masculinity” Is Saying “All Men Are Bad or Masculinity is Bad,” You Have Totally Misunderstood the Phrase
If Brown considers himself some kind of Christian apologist (his work appears regularly on the Christian Post site where he addresses various social issues), he’s not supposed to bear false witness, and he’s supposed to care about being fair and accurate when describing someone else’s views – but he’s not doing that.
When I brought this up on Twitter with him, he pushed back.
He insists that he understands the phrase “Toxic Masculinity” quite well, but his editorial and his tweets reveals he does not.
Now that I have pointed Brown to the previous page on my blog on Toxic Masculinity and what it means (via Twitter), and now that I’ve written this blog post explaining further, it’s on him to educate himself and write more responsibly on these issues.
If Brown keeps tweeting or writing editorials arguing that Toxic Masculinity means “hate all men, all masculinity is bad and wrong,” he is deliberately being dishonest.
Bad Witness to Ex Christians or Liberal Non Christians
In the process, Brown is further alienating secular feminists from the Christian faith, and there are ex-Christians who have been driven from the Christian faith in part due to behavior such as his, and some of them are women who have turned away from the faith due to the sexism (which takes place under the guise it’s “biblical teaching”).
These kind of women, who populate the “Empty The Pews” and “Exvangelical” hash tags are ex-Christians now, and you’re not going to win them back to the faith by misrepresenting a view or set of views that many of them hold, such as Toxic Masculinity.
The sort of ex-Christian men who use those same tags are also turned off by the sexism in Christianity, and they are turned off by how “complementarian,” or “Traditional Masculinity” advocates expected them to cram themselves into narrow little boxes of manhood (such as, all boys and men should adore NFL football, enjoy fire arms, and want to B-B-Q, no man should ever cry in front of other people, etc).
The secular women and the ex-Christian women know that Brown and guys like him have not properly understood terms such as “Toxic Masculinity,”
and when Brown stubbornly digs in and insists he understands the term just fine when it’s clear that he does not
-(and he shows a very thin skinned nature and unwillingness to even consider he may have misunderstood)-,
he is pushing those women (and some of the men) even further away from the faith.
He is affirming and confirming their choice to leave Christianity. Is that what he wants?
If Brown can’t deal with any of this coming from me (and I’m a conservative), and he sure acted like he didn’t appreciate my input and treated me as though I were a nuisance, he has no chance of persuading liberals, ex-Christians, or secular feminists to consider, or re-consider the Christian faith, or whatever else, concerning gender roles, etc and so forth.
The Twitter Screen Caps
I took screen captures of most of my Tweets to Brown which will be embedded below.
You can also read all the Tweets here on Twitter if you like.
You can see that I was pretty restrained, and he comes across as being very thin-skinned – but he was accusing me of some of the very behaviors he was displaying.
I did not grab screen caps of every tweet I made, such as one where I sent him the first link to my blog post about Toxic Masculinity, but these are most of the tweets.
I, of course, am “DaisyFlower” in these tweets – perhaps had I tweeted to this guy as “Rick McManly” he would’ve taken me more seriously and reacted in a less catty, bitchy, grouchy manner:
Above, but not pictured: I sent him a link to my TM blog post.
My gut feeling is that he did not bother to read that first post, because he’s convinced he already knows everything there is to know about the subject, but I could tell from his article and his Tweets to me he does not understand the phrase.
Below: I was informing him that it’s not just those secular, liberal feminists he abhors who agree with the concept of Toxic Masculinity, but there are a lot of liberal, moderate, and conservative CHRISTIAN women who also agree with the concept:
Above: Brown continues to misrepresent what the term means, in spite of the fact I pointed him to my blog post offering correct definitions and explanations of it –
For him to continue offering inaccurate and warped definitions of the phrase at that stage means he is being intellectually dishonest about it: that is an observable fact, not some kind of personal attack or an insult.
As the phrase TM is widely used, it’s the exact opposite of the situation as he describes it – most who use the phrase are not saying ALL men are awful or that all of masculinity is wrong or bad.
What material is he reading about the term, I wonder? Because he has an incorrect understanding of what it means.
If he means to ONLY address some very misandrist quotes by “radical feminists” whose work he says he’s read, he should specify that in his tweets and editorials, perhaps with some direct quotes of theirs with citations. His take on the term is not the common usage one.
Brown claims there, arrogantly, that he’s researched the term quite a bit, that I don’t know what I’m talking about, but he’s gotten the definition of the phrase very, very wrong.
Brown also seems to assume I’m a big dummy who has no clue what the term means and that I’ve done no reading on the topic, which is incorrect on all fronts.
He states definitively that my reading, experience or research doesn’t verify what I’m saying – which is extremely arrogant and wrong.
And I bet he never did read my blog post I pointed him to.
The guy acts like a pompous jackass with me in the midst of this exchange, he was behaving in an insufferable manner, yet he has the audacity to act like I am the problem here. That is open and obvious for anyone to see who is reading these screen capped Tweets.
Below: he also kept telling me in many tweets, “This is my last response,” yet he kept responding to me:
Above: You are in fact being intellectually dishonest, Brown, because although you’ve had it explained to you, and articles linked to you in tweets, of the correct understanding of what “Toxic Masculinity” means to most liberals, feminists, and other people, you keep offering the same flawed, wrong definition of the phrase: which means you are continuing to lie about what others believe, and you are therefore being dishonest.
If you have seen a cache of very misandrist quotes by “radical feminists” in your research who were discussing Toxic Masculinity, then stick to that and quote them, with citation, and make it clear to your readership you are addressing only that kook, liberal feminist fringe.
Stop conflating the extremist “radicals” with “everyday” Jane and Joes and how they use and understand the phrase on social media, sites, and so on.
But your work so far on the matter suggests that all who use the term TM mean to say that ‘all men are bad’ – but that is not what most everyday people mean by that phrase.
Below: my response: I really don’t think he bothered to read the stuff I pointed him to. He’s very arrogant, assumes he knows everything already.
I did him the polite favor of re-linking him to the same post:
Above: those are my last Tweets to the guy lately.
He is a delicate little flower. He does not or cannot take disagreement or take even politely-worded push back online (I freely admit, by the way, to hating to debate and usually try to stay away from it).
In the past 18 or more years I’ve been on the internet, even in the midst of being very polite to somebody in heated political or religious debate, I’ve had liberals, atheists, and others tell me to “F-ck off,” say things to me such as, “I hope you get cancer and die.”
Did I say anything remotely like that to this guy? Nope.
Given this exchange with me, that Brown, who is supposed to be some kind of Christian apologist, does not show an interest in being honest or accurate in how he portrays the views and beliefs of others, specifically, the phrase “Toxic Masculinity” and some of its associated, related topics-
And that he gets very snippy and arrogant when I was just trying to get him to see he does not understand the term, I don’t think he has any business writing or tweeting about any of this, certainly not on a Christian site addressing sensitive social issues.
He’s only serving to drive ex-Christians further from, or others away from, the Christian faith.
I am stunned that someone who writes as a Christian apologist or commentator on a Christian news site would be so haughty, sloppy with research, and not be willing to consider he has an incorrect understanding of something. And yes, he has “Toxic Masculinity” very, very wrong.
I may look over this post later and edit it, I cannot say. I may want to clarify things or add new links, etc.
I stayed up very late to finish composing this post, so when I review it while awake later I may see some things I need to fix, add, or remove.
Anti- ‘Me Too’ Hash Trend Advocates Seeking to Minimize Sexual Harassment Against Women; Tag Was Never About Rape Only – ‘Me Too’ Trend Is Not Suggesting that All Women are Weak, All Men are Sexual Abuser – Me Too Is Not a Witch Hunt