The Myth of Toxic Masculinity
The Myth of Toxic Masculinity: The Asshole (Biff Tannen) vs The Masculine (James Dalton)
By R. M. S. Thornton
1. SJWs and Their Condescending, Unwanted Lecturing
There are many irritating aspects about being on the low end of what the Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) term the “intersectional hierarchy.” For instance, having the validity of my opinions and beliefs judged based solely on what are often subjective qualities that make up my “identity.” Because, as a “privileged, straight, white cis-gendered male,” no amount of intelligent argumentation will be accepted as legitimate. It’s an absurd disposition. Such intellectual copouts are akin to a football team arriving at a stadium to play an opposing team, only to be told by their opponent that the game has been cancelled because they already lost, since their mascot does not conform to politically correct standards.
Thus, I’m well aware that for many, my contentions will be ignored and perhaps ridiculed by the enraged, sociopathic, virtue signalers who will refer to my beliefs as being archaic and nothing more than the musings of an angry white man. However, because I’m a straight, white, cis-gendered who doesn’t subscribe to the identity politics or victimhood, intersectional narratives, I really have nothing to lose at this point since I’m hated already.
But digressing from my original point, I think the worst part of being positioned so low on the identity totem pole is the fact that it always feels like I’m being lectured. Personally, I’m not opposed to be being lectured as I’m an avid listener of The Great Courses. But to be consistently talked down to because of certain aspects beyond my control is infuriating, especially when the people addressing you usually have the mental capacity of a dead clam. It’s kind of like when you were a child and there was always that pretentious little jackass who smugly informed his peers that Santa Claus wasn’t real and would label you as foolhardy for even accepting such a ridiculous notion as reality. However, to give that kid credit, at least what he said was factual unlike SJWs whose philosophy is based on the perverse and disruptive theories of inter-societal conflict pushed by Hegelian/Marxist ideologies.
The most recent example of this repugnant exhortation came from a Gillette commercial. In a brave attempt to alienate most of its consumer base, Gillette released a commercial condemning the poisonous nature of masculinity. The ad is essentially a montage of men behaving badly. My favorite moment was a scene where two boys were fighting while their dads stood back, watched and laughed as if they were Michael Vick and his crew watching a dog fight. As a child, I witnessed a fair bit of scuffles between children and though I may have been sheltered, I never once saw fathers allowing their sons to duke it out. In fact, it was always quite the opposite, as dads always seemed to quickly intervene and put their sons in their place.
What was most interesting about the commercial was the reaction to it. I, like many others, saw it as just another absurd display of the mainstream media trying to cram a radical, progressive ideology down my throat. Others, however, enjoyed it, and not just women. I would like to take this moment to somewhat disengage from my main thesis and give my thoughts on male feminists. It should be noted that when I use the term “feminist,” I’m alluding to “third wave feminism.” It’s important to make light of this at the onset, as the vast majority of American men are actually second wave feminists i.e., they believe women should be entitled to participate in the workforce and the political process.
2. Male Feminists
I’ve come to the conclusion that there are three types of men who label themselves feminists. Note that these categories are not singular, as these men can often be classified as more than one type. The first is the “virtue signaler.” The virtue signaler, in general, is someone who posts something on social media in order to exhibit to others’ their goodness or high moral turpitude. You’ve probably encountered these people before—like the person who posts pictures of themselves holding a sign at a protest often accompanied by a long-winded, preachy caption which reads like a monologue from the movie Fern Gully. It’s arguably the most blatant form of self-aggrandizing in existence today.
The men in this category will hold themselves out as feminists, particularly on social media, in order to fulfill a deep-seated need for attention and acclaim. This method is often utilized by politicians, business leaders, or those who aspire to some kind of leadership by trying to galvanize the masses to support them. What I find most interesting about this group is that many men I know who engage in this behavior are not those whom I would label “upstanding individuals.” I’m no saint myself, but I do sometimes notice objectionable behavior from this group. It’s almost like they’re outwardly partaking in the feminist movement in order to overshadow less appealing aspects of their personalities. Ironically, these men can readily be extreme misogynists behind closed doors, proving that their feminist leanings are not heartfelt, but rather merely a mask. In some more extreme instances, men will use this position as a platform to unleash their vindictive natures—i.e. a tool to attack other men who, they despise.
This brings us to our second type of male feminist. These are the men who attempt to distinguish themselves from the jackass, douchey dudes who treat women like garbage, seeing them as nothing more than sexual receptacles. I can actually somewhat relate to this group since, throughout most of my life, I have often played the role of the “gal’s pal”; the nice guy who usually befriends women and tries to sleaze on them them like a Scottsdale bro at 2 A.M. on a Saturday morning. These men seem to have an inner desire to show women that they’re different from all the other assholes out there—that they are respectful of women and identify with their plight.
However, there are two strange things about these men. First, they often seem to genially hate those “other” men, the “douchebags” who are successful with women. They thus use the feminist agenda as a tool to disparage them. Yet this belittlement seems to stem more from envy than anything else, targeting those who they clandestinely wish they were. Second, even though they’re feminist, I’ve noticed that, behind closed doors, these men frequently resent women. It’s a strange dichotomy as they inwardly begrudge those they supposedly respect and are fighting for. It’s almost as if they feel anger over the fact that the opposite sex has consistently chosen tools and assholes over them. And more ironic still, this unfortunate state of affairs often continues, as women normally don’t find male feminists attractive.
Which brings us to the final and, my personal favorite, category. Although women normally don’t find male feminists attractive, this doesn’t mean men don’t try this angle to pursue them. These are the so called “Feminizers”, an amalgamation of the terms “Feminist” and “Womanizer.” The reason I like this group is not because I necessarily agree with their tactics, but because I find it hilarious just how blatantly insincere some men can be when attempting to get laid. Granted, most men try to portray themselves in overly positive lights around potential mates. But there is a point when it gets so absurd that it’s like watching Barney Stinson’s ridiculous gimmicks in How I Met Your Mother.
This group is rarer; but regularly they relate to or overlap with those in the first mentioned category, as they hide their true views and intentions behind the curtain of “women’s empowerment.” I’ve been acquainted with this type before. These are the men you see at parties or bars, being overly aggressive with women, sometimes even touching them inappropriately, who then have the audacity to post pro-feminist material, or in the last several years, display pictures of themselves at events such as the Women’s March. Similar to the first group, they portray themselves in this light in order to mask their true motives and beliefs, offering women a false sense of security through their disingenuousness. The hypocrisy of it all is similar to white nationalist Richard Spencer posting a picture of himself marching in a Martin Luther King, Jr. parade.
My basic point is this— men who espouse post-modern, feminist doctrine are not prime examples of what men should be. On the contrary, they are, by in large, insincere, often using the ideology as a device to conceal their true beliefs and/or as a weapon to unleash the darker sides of their natures, or they are using it to further an agenda, personal ambitions, or both. The warped perception of masculinity advocated by these men is one which is not only disingenuous, but harmful, since it furthers societal divisions and resentments as well as goes against the very nature of the male psyche.
But all that being said, feminists are not completely wrong. There are some awful men out there. Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Andrew Luster and Roman Polanski (who Meryl Streep once gave a standing ovation to, FYI), are just some in a long list of men who have committed vile acts against women. But where feminists go wrong is when they blame these acts on the concept of toxic masculinity, just the latest in the long cadre of propagandist slogans utilized by SJWs. However, masculinity is not something which should be looked down upon or redefined. Rather, it should be embraced as a positive aspect of man’s nature. What people need to understand is this—there is a difference between being masculine and being an asshole. They are not one in same. To advance my theory, I will engage in a case study comparing and contrasting two fictional characters who represent both sides, Biff Tannen from Back to the Future and James Dalton from Road House.
3. Biff Tannen VS. James Dalton
The 1980’s era is sometimes thought of as being the decade of “hyper-masculinity.” Thus, what better way to have a discussion about this topic than to compare and contrast two characters from two famous 80s movies. I’ll start with the “Asshole” who will be epitomized by Biff Tannen from the hit classic Back to the Future. During a cinematic era defined by adolescent, macho villains, Biff stands out as arguably the most notorious. He serves as the film’s chief antagonist, the town’s meathead bully.
To put it simply, Biff is a jackass. He’s a greedy, violent, mean-spirited sociopath. With his band of dimwitted goons, Biff attempts to terrorize Marty McFly along with past versions of the protagonist’s parents. He consistently harasses, intimidates and harms his peers, especially Marty’s father. His hostile tendencies extend to women as well. On several occasions, he strikes and physically abuses women, even going so far as attempting to rape Marty’s mother. In the second movie, his sadism had the cumulated effect of him becoming a murderer, as he killed Marty’s father and tried to do the same to Marty during several junctures. Biff Tannen is, plain and simple, just a bad person; the kind of man who any sensible person would hope never to be associated with in his or her lifetime. He is, dare I say it, a butthead.
In contrast, we have James Dalton, the main character from the action film Road House. He is a bouncer who is tasked with cleaning up a bar called the Double Deuce, a hole in the wall establishment plagued by violence and other illicit activities. Dalton is an intriguing character. On one hand, he is tough, strong-willed, courageous and an all-around badass. He is an excellent fighter, a rough and tumble man who never backs down. Yet despite this, Dalton’s and Biff’s personalities could not be more different. Dalton is patient, good-natured and empathetic and although he is an exceptional combatant, he never starts fights and always tries to avoid them. For instance, there is a scene at the start of the film in which a man cuts his arm with a knife. He then challenges Dalton to a fight outside, to which Dalton seemingly accepts. However, when the man exits, Dalton reenters the bar and has his coworkers close off the entrance, as Dalton has no interest in fighting despite the vicious attack. Indeed, Dalton never fights just to fight. He only resorts to violence when protecting himself or his friends and loved ones.
Dalton is mild-mannered. He believes that bouncers must always remain calm and be “nice” until all other options have been exhausted. Furthermore, he is a man capable of remorse, as he is still haunted by the fact that he was once forced to kill in self-defense. To be fair, he does sort of lose it at the end as he goes on a modest killing rampage after the bad guys murder his best friend and mentor, Wade Garrett. But that being said, the movie climaxes when Dalton has the opportunity to end the life of the main villain, but doesn’t, realizing that killing him would do nothing except make him more like his adversary, essentially turning him into everything he stands against.
Hence, these two men represent two different states and mentalities. One of them is an alpha male, a beacon of masculinity, strength, and restraint. The other is a douchebag. Therefore, when we debate about concepts like “toxic masculinity,” it needs to be recognized that the Biff Tannens of the world are not masculine. They are just assholes, plain and simple. They are insecure dimwits compensating for inner cowardness and possibly small genitalia. I have known many men like this and have witnessed grotesque behaviors from them such as groping women, to welcomingly humping women at clubs like horny chihuahuas, to making creepy comments in a workplace or interview setting, to stealing their phones in order to search for risqué selfies. All that being said, it is both wrong and impertinent to consider that acts like these are representative of our society’s traditional view of masculinity.
There is a counter argument to all this: toxic masculinity and being an asshole are synonymous i.e. they both exist as one and the same. To address this contention, we need to examine the term “toxic masculinity” and what it implies. Does it mean that masculinity itself is toxic or that there is a toxic form of it? If it’s the former, I believe I have settled this issue above by showing that masculinity itself a positive and therefore is not toxic. If it is the latter, the implication becomes admittedly more open ended. For instance, there is the idea toxic masculinity is merely just an exaggeration of masculine traits such as violence, aggression and hypersexuality. But then it has to be asked, what are masculine traits?
There is no doubt men are usually more aggressive than women. This is true across most species, especially mammals. For example, male chimpanzees and gorillas are often considerably more violent and destructive than their female counterparts. But then we must answer another question: is masculinity, as it is defined, solely a human phenomenon? And, if not, is there a difference between animal masculinity and human masculinity? In other words, should the male animalistic urge to rape, pillage and slaughter be considered masculine or should human masculinity be looked at as the natural male thought processes incrusted within our species’ high intellect, rationality and morality? Indeed, what separates us from all other animals is our ability for advanced cognition—to not be guided purely by instinctive behavior, but rather by ethical principles. It’s why Homo Sapiens are the only species to develop laws and social norms as a means to temper the worst aspects of our being.
Hence, what makes our species special is the fact that we possess the tools necessary to mostly surmount our primitive, mammalian cortex with the more developed regions or our brains. This means we have the ability to delineate masculinity not as primal vestige of the State of Nature, but rather as the accretion of thousands of years of human mental and philosophical development. Thus, the term “toxic masculinity” is itself a misnomer because it encompasses the exaggerated masculine qualities like hyper-aggressiveness and sexual predation. Yet, the characteristics which define our current conception masculinity, the ones espoused by Dalton, are not by nature toxic. This is because embellishing these attributes to their extreme or adding elements, which by their nature contradict virtuous ones, destroys the very definition of what human masculinity is: assertiveness, toughness and courage fused with self-control, empathy and good-naturedness. In other words, the over-stressing of certain negative aspects at the expense of positive ones does nothing more than expel one from the category of the masculine and launch him into that of the jackass
For comparison, let’s discuss the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Historically speaking, the KKK saw itself as a Christian entity and even considered some of their practices and beliefs as stemming from that religion. However, I know very few Christians who would accept the KKK as part of their rank and certainly would never refer to the organization as promoting “toxic Christianity.” The reason being that the ideology embraced by the group, which by and large consists of hate, intimidation, violence and the superiority of one group over another, are on their face anti-Christian. That doesn’t mean that bad Christians haven’t existed. But the KKK’s ideology does not conform to Christian doctrine, despite the fact that it has adopted Christian, or pseudo-Christian, views and practice. On the contrary, the KKK is fundamentally un-Christian. Likewise, espousing certain hyperbolic male traits does not make you masculine, pseudo-masculine, or even toxically masculine. It just makes you a prick.
Therefore, there is no such thing as toxic masculinity. There is masculinity and then there is being an asshole. For masculinity is not about being mean spirited, succumbing to animalistic urges or acting like a general creep. On the contrary, it’s about patience, self-control, courage and strength. It’s about being assertive, yet being good-natured, tolerant and compassionate. These are the qualities exemplified by Dalton. It is why masculinity is not something to be looked down upon as a poisonous male attribute promoted by a faceless patriarch, but rather celebrated as a positive expression of manliness.
There is nothing wrong with men or masculinity. The problems we face are not with males as group, but rather with individuals; bad actors, aka the Biff Tannens of the world. These are the people we should be condemning, not men or masculinity as a whole. For if you believe that insulting and alienating all males through preachy, obnoxious and distasteful advertisements is the best way to bring awareness to the female plight, you are mistaken. These types of identity-based critiques do nothing but further enhance what are already significant societal divisions.
It is important that we all stand against malevolence, but not by insinuating that there is something fundamentally wrong with our conceptions of manliness. This is especially true given the fact that SJWs have weaponized concepts like toxic masculinity in order to push their intersectional narratives, creating societal fissions in order to further their progressive agendas. Because in the end, even if you don’t agree with my contention that toxic masculinity is a myth, it’s clear that the radical left will continue to utilize it as a political tool in their strategic arsenals, just like Stalin and Moa employed such class based resentments as a means to increase their power and implement their own twisted, genocidal, totalitarian polices,
With that all being said, keep one thing in mind—if, in a fictional universe, Biff Tannen entered the Double Deuce and behaved the way he did in his movie, a Dalton round house kick would have struck him harder than the smell of manure did when it buried his car. For the sign of a true man is not one who goes looking for trouble, but one who is willing to stand up to maliciousness when it rears its ugly head. I only hope that this article does its part in thwarting the wicked exploiters who attempt to divide us.
© Copyright 2019 by R. M. S. Thornton
© 2019 RMS Thornton