This discussion was inspired by discussion on this post.

Toxic man: oh guess I am just gunna keep doing what I am doing if you aren’t going to tell me what to do.

The reason this comes up is that masculinity is largely based around externally conferred social status. You have to constantly be doing something to maintain an image of masculinity. Often this means some sort of social or physical violence in the right time or place (beat up the mugger to defend your partner, call out your boss when you’re being treated unfairly, put rival men in their place). Just as frequently, however, it is the expectation of a certain amount of self sacrifice (paying for meals, military service).

What they don’t understand is how anyone can expect them to maintain their social status when they are avoiding this role that they have been explicitly shown that there will be consequences if they fail to meet. The answer is simple: once you’re out of the masculinity rat race, you’re out. By refusing to take part in the hierarchy of dominance you will eventually be subject to a more general and, frankly, human set of standards.

The only problem is that all of these pressures are external in the first place and this whole dynamic creates strong social gender boundaries. It is very easy for a lot of men to look at their social circles and see exclusively people who punish them for a failure to live up to a masculine ideal.

  • agamemnonymous@sh.itjust.works
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    24 days ago

    A large percentage of women actively prefer many of the behaviors we’re describing as “toxic”. The majority of my casual partners have explicitly requested, or discussed how attractive they find, borderline abusive behavior: physical aggression, jealousy, catcalling and infantalizing language, relentless pursuit, etc. My first girlfriend told me to be less respectful with her, and lost a lot of attraction toward me the first time I was emotionally vulnerable with her.

    So a big problem is that while a vocal portion of women are telling men that certain gender norms are toxic and they need to stop, they’re watching the women they’re pursuing choose the men who exhibit this toxic behavior. At the end of the day, without any guidance from feminists, they have to choose between what the feminists tell them, and what the pick-up artist types tell them. The pick-up artists promise them romantic success, the feminists call them toxic for feeling entitled to romantic success.

    With sexual/romantic success being the primary motivator for young men, is it really a surprise that they make the choices they make?

    • spaduf@slrpnk.netOPM
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      24 days ago

      This is absolutely true and I’m always surprised there isn’t more acknowledgement in progressive women’s circles. Simple polling shows that roughly a third of women hold all men to these standards but there are significantly more who exclusively apply it to potential partners (speaking from a very US-centric perspective).

      The honest solution is that women who think this way are simply not good partners, and should be avoided to whatever degree is possible.

      • pmk@lemmy.sdf.org
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        23 days ago

        I guess it becomes a matter of strategy. Maybe progressive women aren’t the ones who need to hear it the most, and they may feel offended at the suggestion that other women could be part of reinforcing the patriarchy. It mirrors the way men are asked to shut down other mens sexist remarks and actions. I’m sure such behavior is prevalent, but I never witness it. So the question to me is, how do we communicate this whole thing to women as a group? The ones willing to listen aren’t the ones who need to hear it, and the ones who need to hear it are probably not willing to listen.

      • ObjectivityIncarnate@lemmy.world
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        19 days ago

        I’m always surprised there isn’t more acknowledgement in progressive women’s circles.

        I’m not, ideological “circles” feign ignorance of truth that contradicts the group’s narrative as a rule.

        To see such things frankly acknowledged and taken responsibility for, now THAT would be surprising.

      • Ummdustry@sh.itjust.works
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        18 days ago

        I would disagree that women who think this way ought be discounted any more that you should say “Don’t date a man that loves big boobs and can’t arrange furniture to save his life”.

        Ultimately we as a species are stuck with the sex drives we’ve got. Whilst some effort can be made to rise above them, (and to recognise potential partners who don’t) I think we also need to find healthy behaviours that can scratch the same itch as the toxic ones.

        Jealousy is fine if stated frankly and honestly, rather than manifesting in surviellance. Relentless pursuit is fine in the framework of formal flirtation, not on a street with stranger. You oughtn’t manhandle where uninvited, but it’s no sin to be physically fit enough to be capable of it.

    • agent_nycto@lemmy.world
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      23 days ago

      There’s a confusion happening. I think people are thinking “toxic masculinity” means all masculine traits are toxic, and I feel that’s not the case.

      It’s not that masculine traits are good or bad, it’s that they become “toxic” when they become dysfunctional.

      For example, a masculine trait is being able to endure hardship, to be kind of stoic. This can be a positive trait when working out, instead of whining to everyone about how heavy weights are you keep going and finish your set. It can be negative when you feel like you can’t cry at a funeral, trying to be manly when you’re sad.

      The solution, in my opinion, isn’t to act less manly but embrace other aspects of manliness. Instead of refusing to cry, you can embrace the idea that men will do as they want regardless of the negative opinions and doubts of others, and cry as much as you want at a funeral.

      It’s not effeminate to cry at a funeral, and is now a manly thing to cry at a funeral.

      So yeah, women like masculine traits (at least the women who like men tend to), but they don’t like it when people use the excuse of masculine traits hurt them, people around them, or the men they love.

    • barsoap@lemm.ee
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      16 days ago

      The majority of my casual partners have explicitly requested, or discussed how attractive they find, borderline abusive behavior: physical aggression, jealousy, catcalling and infantalizing language, relentless pursuit, etc.

      What they say they want is usually not what they want. Let me take your examples apart:

      physical aggression,

      The actually attractive thing is being able to hold your own, and be self-directed. Anger and aggression are a pale imitation of that preferred by some women because they’ve never seen anything off the doormat - douchebag axis. Or, differently put: You can’t be peaceful while being harmless. If she prefers a bit of a thrill loom there like a rollercoaster handing out tickles if you dare to get on.

      jealousy,

      Is a pale imitation of loyalty. It’s what passes as attachment in lieu of meaningful connection, as relationship security in lieu of figuring out what both of you want from your own and the other’s life.

      catcalling

      Yes she wants to be considered attractive. She likes compliments. We all do… at least from the right people, in the right situation, for a thing we want to be complimented for. The trick is to be able to mind-read :)

      and infantalizing language,

      That’s about being cared for, having space to not have to care about things, space to stop adulting. If she generally fails at adulting that’s a red flag, if she has her shit together, heck, why not, I can make pancakes with happy faces on them.

      relentless pursuit, etc.

      See jealousy. Basically the same mechanism.

      • Smk
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        16 days ago

        You are spot on. I’ve never encountered a women who wanted to be brutalized or something.

        Like in any relationship, if you look like someone that is confident, you will generally be successful.

  • IcyToes@sh.itjust.works
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    24 days ago

    Ultimately, relationships often depend on it. Many men in my life are fine and comfortable when I express vulnerability or weakness. Though when I do in relationships, it often goes sideways. Decision making, certainty and very positively received. Alongside that, recent relationships respond positively as they prefer a submissive role.

    The woman in my life have generally maintained this type of role.

    For further clarification, physical violence hasn’t been required or welcome in adult life. Barely seen a usage since school.

  • jet@hackertalks.com
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    24 days ago

    People, on the whole, tend to be pragmatic.

    Shelter, security, sex, and food… These are the core requirements for existence.

    If someone sees a better outcome in terms of core requirements from new behavior they are more likely to try that behavior. Demonstrate the better way to be, and people will follow.

  • jeffw@lemmy.world
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    25 days ago

    This gets back to Foucault’s internalized panopticon, although I don’t recall Foucault ever extrapolating the idea to gender norms. Yes, it’s external pressure but it becomes internalized

  • pmk@lemmy.sdf.org
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    24 days ago

    By refusing to take part in the hierarchy of dominance you will eventually be subject to a more general and, frankly, human set of standards.

    You mention some examples, like defending your partner from a mugger, calling out your boss when treated unfairly, paying for meals, etc.
    Let’s say a man stopped doing those things, what do you think the immediate and short term consequences would be?

    • Sibelius Ginsterberg@feddit.de
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      24 days ago

      What about: give the mugger what he wants instead of starting to fight him. This would keep your partner and you out of harms way. There is also no need to call out your boss when he treats you unfairly. Just keep a paper trail and let his/her boss deal with the situation as it is their job. There is no good reason that men are by default paying for meals.

      • pmk@lemmy.sdf.org
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        24 days ago

        I agree that those are sane approaches. I do think that there can be immediate unintended consequences. If someone didn’t pay for a meal, there’s propably less chance of a second date. Etc.
        I imagine women went through similar consequences while entering traditionally masculine jobs and behavior.
        What I’m getting at is that I think that we often think that this pressure is all in our minds, and to some extent that’s true, but there are many stories of men opening up and being vulnerable and then their partners lose attraction. That’s a hard sell to young men. “Yes, you will be alone forever, but it’s necessary because in a couple of generations from now things might be better.”

        • Sibelius Ginsterberg@feddit.de
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          24 days ago

          I don’t want to be together with a partner that only cares for my “facade of manliness”.

          Be upfront about stuff, communicate who you are and look out for people that do not care how “manly” you are.

          But you are right, it may not pretty hard to be the first one in your social circle to start this change.

        • agent_nycto@lemmy.world
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          23 days ago

          That mode of thinking only works if you assume all potential partners are the same. There are women who don’t want, nor expect, the guy to pay for everything. There’s stories of relationships getting better when men open up and women really appreciating that. Saying you’ll be alone forever is not only a hard sell but also a lie.

    • spaduf@slrpnk.netOPM
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      24 days ago

      Well it’s entirely dependent on their social circle, right? They’re the ones who would or would not enforce these norms.

      • pmk@lemmy.sdf.org
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        23 days ago

        Yes, that’s a good point. And maybe sort of the reason I’m interested in these topics, is trying to figure out how to influence the social circles around me.

  • bouh@lemmy.world
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    24 days ago

    I feel like external pressure is only half the problem. It is important but IMO the role model is also a problem. Non toxic masculinity is often describe in the negative of the toxic masculinity : you’re good when you are not toxic, not when you are something positive.

    In some way it is less restrictive, but in other way it is missing the model.

    The other side of this coin is the corruption of the ideal that lead to nihilism. Toxic masculinity corrupts ideals. Violence is strength. Protecting is necessarily the destruction of the threat. Independence is power. Smart is manipulation and deception. Everything is to be seen through a lens of domination and power. And that is the core of the problem.

    Instead, a model is to be seen with any quality, but through another lens. Strength can help the weak. Smart can disarm an explosive situation. Power is to be shared and used wisely. Basically, a model opposite to the toxic masculinity can be many things with all the qualities of the virility, but the difference is that they will be used and targeted differently. And for many people, it is to be learnt through a model.

    This is a core problem because for many people, if you tell them to drop the toxic behaviour, there will be nothing left to aim for, nothing for them to transform into.

    And this goes back to the social validation you’re talking about. Going from toxic to positive requires a transformation so that the qualities someone has can be positive instead of negative, but as qualities they can still be praised and admired.

    • spaduf@slrpnk.netOPM
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      24 days ago

      My problem with this is these new qualities are just as likely to be used to build a toxic hierarchy. The problem seems to me to be not just the qualities themselves but the competitive nature that is more or less beaten into boys at a young age.

      • agent_nycto@lemmy.world
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        23 days ago

        While it’s really messed up to force the idea of competition down any kid’s throat, competition itself isn’t necessarily bad, right?

  • Victor Villas
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    24 days ago

    Do men feel like “they can’t abandon masculinity”? Is that a widespread feeling men have?

    I don’t see it much. What I see the most is men that don’t want to abandon masculinity.

    • spaduf@slrpnk.netOPM
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      24 days ago

      I think we’re splitting hairs here. They don’t want to because they feel like they can’t do so without repurcussions.

      • Victor Villas
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        22 days ago

        I think the difference between “I can’t” and “I don’t wanna” is big enough to be worth splitting. For instance, when trying to think of reasons for men that “can’t” abandon masculinity, you’re looking for externalities (pressure). If you think about why don’t men “want to”, you’ll find plenty of self-serving reasons and rationalization, which in my opinion is a more realistic framing.

      • Feathercrown@lemmy.world
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        23 days ago

        There are other reasons not to want to. I like being self-sufficient. I like knowing that I could keep myself and those around me more safe if there was a threat. Etc. My environment would probably be fine with me if I did not want those things-- or at least I’ve never considered whether they would, because it’s not repercussions that make me want to be me.

  • agent_nycto@lemmy.world
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    23 days ago

    Why tf would you associate with men who would punish you if you don’t “live up to a masculine ideal”? You’re not out of the “masculinity rat race” if you don’t do something that some people see as not manly.

    If you’re a man, you get to define what masculinity is and means. If that means monster trucks and guns, cool. If that means baking cookies and taking care of a baby, cool. You’re a man so by default everything you do is manly.

    • spaduf@slrpnk.netOPM
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      23 days ago

      Why tf would you associate with men who would punish you if you don’t “live up to a masculine ideal”?

      It’s not like men are ever given an explicit choice. Very frequently this means older male relatives.

      • agent_nycto@lemmy.world
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        23 days ago

        If someone is being a shithead, fuckem. You go your own way. Sometimes that’s hard, sometimes you can’t do it right away, but you leave them in the dust.

        • Potatos_are_not_friends@lemmy.world
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          23 days ago

          Pretty much!

          Never understood why people put so much weight on this topic. Pick your own preferences.

          In Italy, men kiss each other on the cheek. That’s manly to them. You don’t like it, don’t do it. Easy fucking peasy.

    • barsoap@lemm.ee
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      16 days ago

      You’re not out of the “masculinity rat race” if you don’t do something that some people see as not manly.

      I wouldn’t know whether I’m doing that because I don’t care. Got more interesting things to consider.

  • Taco2112@lemmy.world
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    23 days ago

    I think these types of conversations are important for men and women alike. I’m a straight white man who is comfortable sharing his emotions with my partner, friends, and co workers. I have a bad habit of putting others and their needs before myself but I also make sure I take care of/pamper myself. When someone challenges me, especially to physical confrontation or some other potentially dangerous behavior, I can easily decline and look “weak”, I’ve never been in a fist fight in my life and I’m happy about that. In my mind and the way I was raised (in WV of all places) these are strong masculine traits: be open and honest with people around you, take care of others and yourself, and don’t do anything overly dangerous just to look tough or more important than you are.

    The thing is, all of these a strong qualities that I want in the people I associate with, men and women. There are toxic behaviors on every part of the gender spectrum, the trick is recognizing them, not playing into them yourself, and helping family and friends through open dialogues not meant to shame or embarrass but real conversation.

    My post is kind of rambling and I apologize for that but I wanted to put this out there because I saw a few comments about how some women and certain behaviors, like protecting a loved one from a mugger, can perpetuate toxicity. And to that I say, if there are people like that in your orbit, you either need to cut them out or if you love them and want them around, you need to have a conversation with them about their toxic behavior.