Toxic masculinity is a loose concept and definition encompassing all individuals and arguments who seek to justify and legitimize male’s (purportedly) dominant position in society.
Toxic masculinity has also taken a larger scope and it has been associated with the worst stereotypical male traits which include the expressions of violence, aggression, emotional distance, and dominance.
By the end of this article, you will know what toxic masculinity really is and what mindsets men should distance themselves from.
A Brief History of Toxic Masculinity
Toxic masculinity is the digital-age popularization of an older sociological theory.
The theory, going by the name of “hegemonic masculinity” in scholar circles, postulates that (some) men actively seek to perpetuate their dominant role in society. In their effort to defend their unfair privileges, men restrain women’s rights and keep them subjugated.
“Hegemonic masculinity” is a term coined by fellow sociologist Raewyn Connell.
Connell, a transexual woman and an exponent of the Australian “New Left” movement, has long fought in feminist movements.
Her theory of hegemonic masculinity is based on the theories of classes power struggles of my fellow countryman (and not-fellow Marxist) Antonio Gramsci.
Alright… Now, why does this background matter?
It’s for a simple reason: the term and theory of toxic masculinity have their roots in feminist and left-wing circles.
And today toxic masculinity has been identified as feminist and left-wing.
And that’s a pity.
It’s a pity because toxic masculinity is not an invention of politically-motivated fringe groups.
Toxic masculinity, same as toxic feminism for women, is real, is harmful, and it’s poisoning many men’s minds.
Toxic Masculinity Definition
In this definition of toxic masculinity, I want to break away from leftist and feminist movements and embrace a politically neutral, gender-neutral definition.
I will define toxic masculinity as:
Any theory, mindset, philosophy or advice which promotes, directly or indirectly, hatred, misogyny and abusive behavior.
Toxic masculinity promotes bitterness, a black and white vision of the world and “in-group VS outgroup” social dynamics.
Among the consequences of toxic masculinity are poor mental health, poor intimate relationships and a bellicose attitude towards women and “non members of the tribe”.
Instead of looking at toxic masculinity as the sign of men battling to keep their dominance, my definition equates toxic masculinity with bitterness and what I refer to as “low-quality men“.
The high-quality man approach to masculinity is different. The difference is that high-quality leaders don’t need to battle to be the leader of their relationships.
They naturally are. And people want them there.
In this definition, a man who does not believe in the usefulness of gender equality is not necessarily part of a “toxic culture of masculinity”.
Toxic Masculinity as Overreaction to “Male Shaming”?
I can understand why manosphere blogs and communities such as The Red Pill, which in turn have become breeding ground for toxic masculinity, have become so popular.
Feminism has done great things and female emancipation was long overdue.
Yet, at times, the feminist movement found its reason to be against men.
Especially, of course, white men.
“Men VS women” has indeed sadly become one of the main narratives of our divided society.
And in a world that has become so polarized, we desperately need politiques who stand in the middle and build bridges.
Building bridges, in my opinion, is also done by exposing the toxic shortcoming in “one’s own camp”.
Men criticizing feminism indeed have limited credibility (same for
feminists criticizing “toxic masculinity” and “patriarchy”.
And as a white man myself, I would have little credibility in pointing out the emptiness of extreme feminism.
I think that’s best done by other female authors (read “Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage“, as an example).
And that’s why my contribution to the discourse is different.
My Contribution: A Voice For Unity, Against Toxic Masculinity
My main contribution can only come from highlighting the aspects of toxic masculinity.
Not as a man who sympathizes with feminists and not as a man who feels guilty about being a man.
But as a guy who looks beyond gender divides.
I personally have little patience for anyone who finds their reason to be in attacking and vilifying others.
I have no sympathy for extremist feminists, “patriarchy conspiracists”, “limousine liberals” and “guilt-ridden white men”.
This post is for men (and women) who want to develop themselves into high-quality men (and women) and who believe that “against” is a meaningless, sub-par, and undeserving approach to life.
As corny as it might sound, together is better than against.
Peterson, author of 12 Rules For Life, “VS” Newman.
The simple fact the debate is framed as “feminist VS male-right defender” says a lot about the toxic and divisive culture we’re living in.
How Toxic Masculinity Hides
Toxic masculinity, same as extremist feminism, rarely comes out saying the harsh truths.
You’ll never hear anyone saying:
- “I hate women”
- “I feel inferior, so I seek protection among other men and together we can feel better by vilifying women”
Instead, it hides behind (slightly) higher ideals and values.
It hides behind the ruse of “seeking the truth”, “male self-development” or “defending men’s rights for a fairer society”.
It’s behind those fronts that toxic masculinity festers and proselytize.
This is normal: everywhere and anywhere humans have a tendency to hide their darkest drives and fears behind bigger ideals.
And that’s why we need a deeper analysis to separate the good advice from the toxic ones.
The 5 entries below show how seemingly benign advice and mindsets actually hide very toxic mindsets.
For a quicker consumption: in green is the ruse, such as how authors and thought leaders hide their message behind positive ideals.
In red is what it really means and what the consequences actually are.
#1. Need Her Less
- Ruse: high-quality men are leaders, and to remain the leader of the relationship, you must need her less. And she’ll like you more for it.
- Toxic masculinity translation = relationships are power struggles and we must win them
It’s poor advice, but there is a backdrop of truth when it comes to power dynamics both in dating and negotiating.
Needing a deal -or a person- less than the other party is one of the basics rules of negotiation.
This is what Trump refers to when he says to “always being ready to walk off the negotiation table” in “The Art of The Deal“.
And this is why any good book on negotiation recommends the readers to look for as many alternatives as they can (Ury and Fisher in Getting to Yes call it “BATNA”: “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement”).
So if you approach negotiations -and relationships- with a mindset of who’s got more power, then yes, the party who needs the other the least, has more power.
But what’s the problem with that?
To begin with, approaching negotiations with the idea of overpowering your “opponent” most often leads to poor results (Chris Voss, “Never Split The Difference“).
And many pieces of research and studies have shown that concessions and a win-win attitude actually helps to achieve better results (Stephen Covey made “win-win” one of his key habits in his bestselling “7 Habits of Highly Effective People“).
And guess what?
This is all the more true in relationships!
Why “Need Her Less” is Toxic Mindset
Just think about it.
When you approach a relationship with the idea of “needing her less”, are you more likely to give, support her and create a nurturing and positive relationship, or are you more likely to take away, always be on guard and create a toxic relationship?
Of course, it’s the latter!
Let’s not dance around it.
Men who focus on “needing her less” have sh*tty relationships.
I’ll tell you more: men who focus on “needing her less” are, often, not simply low-quality men but also abusive men (also read Lundy Bancroft’s bible on abusive men “Why Does He Do That” and Patricia Evan’s excellent work “Controlling People” for the psychology of power hungry and controlling individuals).
Think about, how is a man who approaches relationships thinking that “he has to need her less” likely to act?
He is likely to act in the following ways:
- “Encourage” her to stay her home
- Discourage her to grow and improve
- Keep her one down (see examples of one-downs here)
- Social climb her trying to appear “better than her”
- Keep her away from other “options & threats” (overjealous boyfriends)
It’s pretty clear that these are low-quality behavior, right?
And albeit they don’t all start with a “need her less mindset”, a “need her less mindset” often does lead to these behaviors.
“Need Her Less” Stems From Fear
Approaching relationships with the idea of “needing her less” is also a defensive mindset.
It’s the defensive mindset of the man who’s afraid of getting hurt and strikes pre-emptively because he’s afraid of not being enough to be the leader of that relationship.
And a defensive mindset communicates the same that defensive body language communicates: fear.
Develop yourself into a man with many options. Absolutely. In everything in life.
But do not approach your intimate relationships with the main focus of “needing her less”.
Even if you stay away from the most extreme cases of abusive relationships, by its very nature this mindset makes your relationships -and your life- worse off and less fulfilling.
#2. Girls Are Silly And Cute
- Ruse: High-quality men know that what all women crave is a powerful man who makes them feel silly and cute
- Toxic masculinity translation = men are intelligent and powerful; women are intellectually inferior
Again, there is a backdrop of truth.
It’s true that most “strong-looking women” will mellow and act much “girlier” with stronger men who dominate their relationships.
But that doesn’t mean said girls are generally “silly and cute”.
Without sugarcoating it, this mantra is quite meaningless.
Many girls aren’t silly, many girls aren’t cute and some girls are just awesome without being silly and cute.
So why do men tell themselves that women are silly and cute?
Because they need a crutch.
It works like this:
- I’m afraid of approaching a girl, but I tell myself she’s just cute and funny maybe it’s easier.
- It will hurt if I get rejected, but if I tell myself girls are silly then it’s better
- I feel inferior so I tell myself that girls are below me to make me feel better
But hey, if “girls are silly and cute” can help you for a while, that’s all good.
But I don’t think it really helps you much.
It’s because it seeks to address the consequences of the issues instead of fixing the root causes.
A man who’s developed strong internal confidence and, most of all, an antifragile ego, doesn’t need to push women down to give himself courage.
And I think that whenever you can choose, you’re always better off staring naked at the truth rather than seeking refuge in “your own reality” (also read: Principles by Ray Dalio and The 50th Law, both texts stressing the importance of focusing on reality).
And, finally, if you think women are silly and cute, what kind of woman are you likely to find?
A high-quality, go-getter, smart professional?
Or a silly and cute one waiting for your handouts?
#3. Women Are Hypergamous
- Ruse: Men must know that a woman will never be “his”. Red-pilled men know that women are not into “you” but simply seeking the best man they can get
- Toxic masculinity translation = men have values and ideals; women have no ethics morals
Of course women are hypergamous.
And so are men.
Hypergamy is nothing but the innate tendency of maximizing returns. Both genders have it.
As a matter of fact, all forms of life have it. We just happen to express it differently.
As a very general rule of thumb:
- Male hypergamy seeks to amass resources to exchange them for sex
- Female hypergamy seeks to maximize attractiveness to exchange youth and beauty for resources
But many manosphere and red-pill communities don’t look at the whole spectrum.
They only focus on the female side of hypergamy.
Toxic masculinity indeed exploits the ruse of female hypergamy to vilify women and to justify their own personal grudges against women.
The Truth of Female Hypergamy
The idea behind the much vaunted “female hypergamy” is that women will drop men at the drop of a hat because all they care of is securing the best man they can get.
For the sake of clarity, women do are more ruthless than men when it comes to dating.
- Women have a shorter reproductive span
- Women need more help and support with child reading
Basically, it’s biological differences which require women to be more pragmatic and “ruthless”.
A woman mindset tends to be more like this:
Are you committing and delivering?
Then make space for someone who will.
And in a way, that’s good.
Women should be more ruthless and pragmatic for the good of the specie and for the children.
Female Hypergamy As Sign of Quality Woman
Just think about it: what type of woman would not care at all if her man is poor, unreliable and generally low quality?
It’s a low-quality woman of course and a terrible mother!
A certain amount of hypergamy indeed is a signal of quality, both in men and in women.
Hypergamy Complaints Are Motivated by Fear
But of course, toxic masculinity doesn’t see the need behind the woman’s actions.
They see the affront.
They see the danger.
They see the possibility that a woman might prefer another man. Maybe a better man! Ouch!
And instead of working on themselves they choose to lash out.
#4. Alpha Fucks, Beta Bucks (Or: “Look At Me, I’m Alpha!“)
- Ruse: Low-quality men have to pay their difference into bedding a woman. High-quality men don’t have to because they’re enough
- Toxic masculinity translation = alphaness is expressed through multiple sexual partners that men should never share resources with
Again, there is a backdrop of truth in this one as well.
There are plenty of men who chase women the wrong way and who use investment and money to make up for a lack of personal value (this is why I tell women not to focus on making men chase BTW: because only the poor quality ones will do).
Here is an example:
Of course, as for the previous signs, toxic masculinity takes a principle which applies on some occasions and makes it a black and white principle, generalized to all situations and taken to the extreme.
But what’s toxic here is not so much so that the principle, generall applied, is wrong (see examples in lovers VS providers), but that it’s used as a tool for hatred and ego massaging.
This is indeed what I call “alpha posturing“.
Such as: I accuse other men of being “betas”, so that I can feel better by comparison.
Basically it works like this:
The more I can point fingers to some losers, the more I can feel better about myself (and hopefully others will believe me)
Of course, the “losers” are often strawmen with exaggerated charactersitcs (or the accusers takes extra care of exaggerating those “beta” traits).
Because, psychologically, the bigger the distance he can put between himself and the “beta”, the better he can feel about himself.
Of course, to the alpha posturing man it matters little that he is probably not getting laid that often himself, or that he’s in rather unfulfilling relationships.
What really matters is that he can prop up his ego to feel better in the short run.
This, my friend, is an ego fix. It’s mentally rather unhealthy and it’s one of the reasons why male posturing is a form of emotional addiction.
You can see one example of it here:
#5. Toxic Tribe Mentality
- Ruse: We form communities to learn, improve and support each other. We bond in good spirit and have a great atmosphere going on
- Toxic masculinity translation = We feel great together by tearing apart those who don’t belong within “us”. Being part of a group covers my insecurities.
And those who criticize us, especially if females, we gang up on them
Finally, one of the worst emblems of toxic masculinity is the “tribe mentality”.
It’s the congregation of men around strong values and ideals (some good, some others toxic) who makes it all too easy to build an enemy represented by “those outside of the tribe” and, of course, the women.
It might seem a stretch to you, but this is the same in-group and out-group dynamics which have been the basis and backbone of most of the world wars, atrocities and our most shameful moments of shared history.
This isn’t just true for men, of course, this is the same for toxic feminism.
And it’s the reason why to me feminism and toxic masculinity are both strands of the same toxic mindsets.
I will write more about it because this is crucial, but it’s something I already talked about when reviewing toxic masculinity and toxic feminist books such as:
Toxic Masculinity Video
I have done a quick YouTube video on this topic for those of you who are more into audiovisual.
You can check it out here.
Alright, we’ve covered some ground here.
This was a mixed post of theory plus practice.
First, we reviewed toxic masculinity (the theory).
Second, we got into the mindset that you must avoid (the practical side).
I want to highlight again that this is not an attack on the manosphere as a whole.
There are plenty of good ideas there and plenty of cool guys.
There are also many readers of manosphere blogs and communities who read here.
And I am very happy about that:
Every time one guy realizes he was going down the wrong path and changes course, the world just got a bit better.