By Ted Hernandez
Upon undertaking audio/video editing for An American Conversation Podcast, I have immersed myself in content I wouldn’t have otherwise learned about had I not decided to step outside my comfort zone. It wasn’t long before my time with AACP that I got what I asked for. There hasn’t been a more completely polarizing, intellectually paralyzing, contrarian, and at the same time enlightening and informative topic than “toxic masculinity.” In an extremely short period of time, I’ve learned a huge amount about masculinities both as a social phenomenon, and as it relates to my own life experience.
Delving deeper, the comparison and contrast between traditional masculinity and toxic masculinity was enlightening. I realized the importance of making the distinction between the two. And I do think it's important to make that distinction clear whenever fucking possible.
An example of a way critics of toxic masculinity misunderstand the topic is that they feel any mention of the word toxicity (as it relates to masculinity) is a black and white judgment rendering the conclusion that masculinity itself is inherently bad. That was my original perception. The reality, as it turns out, is that toxic masculinity is the result of the overemphasis, or dare I say, over-simplification of specific behaviors and terms that align with the notion of traditional masculinity. Furthermore, I believe an important step in reducing the misunderstandings about toxic masculinity amongst its initial critics such as myself is by offering the most accurate definition of toxic masculinity and outlining the specific factors of trad-masculine ideology- that when overemphasized, can become harmful or violent ie. aggression, stoicism, domination, and the rejection of femininity.
It’s also extremely important to acknowledge the existence of positive, prosocial masculine behavior when discussing the ways that masculinity presents itself statistically. Positive affirmation if you will.
In order for modern society to come together, diminish the influence of toxic masculinity, diminish the patriarchal stronghold, hegemonic masculinity, and to recalibrate what types of male behavior are rewarded by society- initial critics of toxic masculinity such as myself and many other men must acknowledge the reality that some aspects of trad-masculinity can have a negative impact- when they’re overemphasized above and beyond all other aspects- does not encompass a rejection of masculinity in its entirety. What I’ve concluded thus far is that there’s no denying there are those who oppose female empowerment and conform to the patriarchal structure of modern society who refuse to evaluate the divergent values and potential harms of masculinities, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t those who currently identify strongly with trad-masculine ideology who could be persuaded to think about it from a more critical standpoint given the right circumstances and given persistent education and positive outreach efforts.
End Part 1