The 2016 Presidential election and the actions of the Republican nominee have placed toxic masculinity at the center of the national political conversation. Toxic masculinity is one of the more influential ideas in American and human history, and one only needs to look around to see its influences on everything. Or, if you are a woman- you only need walk down the street on any given day. Toxic masculinity is the great opposition to social justice in all its forms because it places no values on equity, empathy, mercy, and charity. Of all our social constructs, toxic masculinity is the most grotesque. The first truth of any social construct is that it must be taught and anything that is taught has a curriculum. And it is the curriculum of gender that has toxic masculinity at war with intersectional feminism, which seeks to change that curriculum, and many men are worried because feminists, after centuries of oppression in the United States, are rapidly acquiring the means to change it.
The roots of toxic masculinity run deep in western culture, right down to the foundations. Toxic masculinity, which in its most devastating application is centered on the Greco-Roman concepts of manhood, has provided the means for the subjugation of the earth. It has built empires and modernity. Toxic masculinity has been such a force in the human history that all other masculinities across the world were conquered by it. In ancient Sparta, young boys would be taken from their homes at the age of 7 and enrolled in Agoge training where these young boys of Sparta would be molded into the future warriors of the feared city-state. As a society, Americans have not moved that far beyond the Spartans in this idea that boys must be made into men through a curriculum that trains them in what it is to be men and American. The problem isn’t with the training but rather the curriculum. In a country steeped in the horrors of patriarchy and its dehumanization and subjugation of women and those who do not conform to the accepted gender norms, it is clear that one of the roots of the country’s rampant sexism lies in our own various Agoges. Toxic masculinity is taught to successive generations of men and women as the natural state of gender relations, regardless of intersection; but why? What utility does this most grotesque conceptualization serve in the mind of its practitioners?
Why would men embrace toxic masculinity? Because it works if you subscribe to the world view that necessitates it. The curriculum of toxic masculinity centers power and the preservation of power as its supreme objectives. The curriculum demands a trade from men: “This philosophy will make you powerful but you will have to sacrifice parts of yourself.” To be a powerful man, one must surrender one’s emotions and accept this curriculum as natural. If you see the world as the struggle for space and resources and the choice presented to you is to be strong and determine your own fate or to be weak and have your fate determined, then the choice is clear— strength and everything flowing from this view. A man must suppress his emotions because emotions cloud the rational mind and interfere in the exercise of power. A man must accept that violence has settled more disputes in human history than any other means and that some people cannot be reasoned with. They must be broken by the specter of bodily harm and must respect the ability of the strong to enforce their will upon their flesh. It is the acceptance of a responsibility to protect one’s family and one’s country against those who would harm them, and any man who cannot perform these tasks or embrace these ideas is useless and undeserving of the title of being a man. It extends beyond the home and the public space. The dominance of this culture and its entire way of life is built upon toxic masculinity and its ability to project power to a world that is envious of its success. To abandon toxic masculinity is an insane concept to those who embrace it. Why should any man surrender the ability to attain and keep power? Because it contorts the soul, the damage it inflicts radiates to encompass everyone; and it locks the world in a cycle of unending conflict.
The toxic aspect of toxic masculinity lies in what it does to its practitioner. The suppression of emotions, the glorification and necessitation of violence, and the falsehood that men are naturally warlike creatures causes very real damage not only to men but humanity as a whole. Toxic masculinity creates conflicts that it in turn attempts to settle by creating more conflicts. The intersectional feminist challenge to toxic masculinity has been taken so seriously in quarters of male population, that a near paranoia has set in. Indeed, the Agoge is under siege and the very future of America is at stake. What does intersectional feminism seek? If intersectional feminism wins and imposes their curriculum at the Agoge, they will rear our boys to be different men, to be whole men with a full range of emotions. They will teach these boys to embrace their humanness and the humanity of those not like them. Intersectional feminism, for all our sakes, seeks to rear boys to be better men, centered around social justice and consigns toxic masculinity and its curriculum to the dustbin of history; and it is right and just in this endeavor. Because if we persist on our current path with toxic masculinity at our intellectual center, we shall surely fall to conflicts of our own making in our attempts to satisfy the avarice of long dead men.
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