Toxic or Protective Masculinity?

Watch this video, which starts with this: "Rape, murder, war: they all have one thing in common men.  Aggression, violence, ambition unchecked by conscience are all the stuff of toxic masculinity, and the solution is obvious make men less toxic; make men less masculine; make men more like women right?"

The label "toxic masculinity" is often used by feminists in a way that suggests there is something inherently wrong with masculine traits, which are cultural rather than evolutionary, and need to be educated away and replaced with more feminine traits.  This disrespectful & divisive feminist ideology has even infected professional psychological guidelines in the US, which are based on the view that “traditional masculinity” and a supposed masculine sense of entitlement are the root cause of men’s mental health problems.

Although there are of course valid criticisms to make about some common aspects of masculinity & modern culture, it's ironic that a movement that claims to be about equality uses a false re-write of history & biology to deny & disrespect male characteristics that typically differ from females.  A more thoughtful and balanced view on gender archetypes can be found here.  But to the extent "masculinity" does embody stereotypical characteristics of stoicism, courageous leadership, risk-taking and aggression, it seems clear that men and women are typically different for biological as well as cultural reasons, and these masculine traits (& patriarchal / chivalrous culture) must have developed with a purpose, which is to support and protect the group and family, not least women and children who are physically weaker (regardless of the group's formal organising power structures whether patriarchal or otherwise) as exemplified by the iconic shining knight saving the damsel in distress, or Superman saving Lois Lane & the whole world.

Obviously humans – both male & female have a strong evolutionary instinct to care most about and be positively biased towards females (recall Titanic: women & children first), because fewer men than women are needed to produce the next generation (but an equal number of "disposable males" are born with the expectation many will die taking risks to support the group).  It was even evolutionarily beneficial for societal culture to deny that this "empathy gap" exists, and to propagate the untruthful "meme" that women are always weak victims (turning a blind eye to all the evidence that women can be just as abusive as men), which our feminist-dominated society still does, even though there is no longer an evolutionary or societal benefit from perpetuating these inequitable & incorrect beliefs.

Meanwhile, human psychology especially the drivers of deep, primitive feelings like love has not had time to evolve since hunter-gatherer & earlier days, when a highly vulnerable pregnant women's survival depended on having, and thus being attracted to, a partner who would protect & provide for her, and had the resources / position in society to do soThis is why women still tend to be most attracted to men who are successful / famous (or at least, have the confidence / dominance & other behaviours that could earn wealth & status), and most women still appreciate and are attracted to chivalry like men opening doors, buying dinner, walking her safely home and working to support the family even though it may no longer be so essential.

Yet whilst men also still instinctively want to meet these expectations & desires of women, toxic feminists demonise males and attack gallantry as "benevolent sexism" (or worse – see the following graphic) — and then wonder where the respect for women went.

Equality doesn't necessarily mean men should stop treating women like they're special, but it might help if we were more conscious that we are doing so.

Note though that whilst women seem to place more emphasis than men on a prospective life partner's character vs looks, when it comes to casual dating, women seem more demanding than men for good-looking dates, at least initially, and women's level of sexual attraction & satisfaction is also more strongly influenced by their partner's good-smelling genes than is the case for men; so not surprisingly, women may prefer a different man for conception from the one they want to help with child rearing!  Women are also less interested in intelligent men (for which humour is a proxy) when they are close to ovulation (see this article along with more on evolved M/F characteristics in relation to attraction and sexual behaviours by the intelligent & free-thinking Tomas Pueyo).

The paradox is that many women are biologically attracted to the look of a big, strong man who can protect and provide for her (& fight off competing males), yet scared by his strength and possible risk to her.  On the other hand, men are primarily attracted by a woman's looks – particularly attributes that show her baby-rearing potential (big hips, boobs and long, thick hair) which is why men prefer younger women (within child-bearing age), whereas men remain attractive to women at older ages (because evolution isn't fair, not because of a sexist patriarchal culture).

Therefore women need to be more concerned about a man's behaviour will he look after her when she is pregnant and with a baby and dependent on help?  So she needs interaction to judge this, and hence (a) she doesn't have enough reason to approach a man based on looks alone, plus (b) if she did, it would then be awkward or even dangerous (if he's violent) to back out if he doesn't have the desired behaviours.  Plus, given the greater risks to women (vs men) of sex resulting in a non-ideal pregnancy (with the wrong person at the wrong time), it makes sense to stand back and carefully judge the offers that come in.

So, as with other animals, it's not surprising that these evolutionary forces have resulted in different male & female courting behaviours, with women tending to be more anxious about approaching (or possibly being rejected by) the other sex.  If only I'd understood all this when I was a teenager and suffering the delusion that in a modern world of equality, girls should behave the same as boys!

Women, like men, also need to be emotionally programmed to desire sex (hence the evolution of a clitoris for pleasure, as well as to promote lubrication with filtered blood and conception), and maybe even more so than men, in order to overcome any rational thoughts about the disadvantages of childbirth risks and subsequent dependence on a male.  However, whilst women will also behave in ways that keep a supportive man around, there isn't the same evolutionary necessity for them to care about men as much as men must care for their pregnant & dependent wife.  On the other hand, women have obviously evolved to be more attuned than men to the needs of a baby which I guess also explains the stereotype of women expecting men to have the same intuitive skills when they don't tell men what's wrong or what they want, yet expect them to work it out and deliver, and get annoyed if they don't!

Unsurprisingly, women (but not men) have a preference for better educated partners than themselves (who can provide for them), and although men intellectually think they want more educated & successful women, when they're confronted by up-close reality their more primitive, emotional instincts favour a less successful woman that needs them (as Cosmo' also recognises).  Research also shows that people are biased to being more concerned about and protective of female suffering, and more willing to more severely judge & punish male perpetrators compared to women committing the same offence.

So masculinity has a noble purpose, and this probably has deep-seated biological-evolutionary origins (as I think this video clip of a protective Silverback also suggests, even though gorillas aren't humanity's closest relative, & can also display ugly as well as noble masculinity) which probably also explain why boys tend to prefer things like fighting-games, superheroes and aggressive team sports (being the hero winner for the group), compared to "typical" girls (whilst noting there are wide variations & overlaps in these stereotypical traits).  These masculine characteristics can't be eliminated from the male psyche, and the solution to society's problems is not to deny, suppress or feminise masculinity, it's to encourage it and harness it for good.  Boys need to be guided and valued as they become men in society, not shamed for their masculinity.

This is not to say that all aspects of so-called feminisation are bad, such as helping men become more emotionally aware, but why would you want to open yourself up to your feelings when this is demanded in a nasty, accusatory way?  Rather than berating men for lacking such skills, it may help to recognise why this is so because it's historically been a man's job to defend/fight and do other tough & unpleasant tasks (for so long that men have evolved to have far greater punching power), so stoic men developed barriers to keep going through difficulties and extreme distress (reflected in the British wartime philosophy to "Keep Calm & Carry On") by building internal psychological walls that block feelings & empathy.

The consequences of this male psychological evolution would naturally also make them more reluctant than women (typically) to bring up feelings and talk about them because let's face it, when it's your job to attack a woolly mammoth whilst trying not to be eaten by sabre-tooth tigers, it's not exactly an evolutionary advantage to want to pause and share your feelings on the situation in a group chat!  And although these evolutionary pressures for male's stoic nature may no longer be so great, it still has its uses because, for example, men tend to be less repulsed than more-sensitive women by jobs like disposing of rubbish or working in a slaughterhouse.  But unfortunately when an issue is so big that it breaks through a man's emotional barriers, the unaccustomed impacts can be devastating in their consequences.

In contrast, women are typically (though not always) more sensitive or emotional & "agreeable" – or it may be said they "feel more" and are more empathic than stereotypical "insensitive blokes" – but the downside of this is they tend to be more anxious & depressed (or neurotic, with lower self-esteem) and, dare I say, are more likely than (non-autistic) males to display extreme sensitivity or "hysteria" in response to their emotions — for example, teenage girls screaming & wetting themselves at a Beatles concert. (Yes I'm using that “hysteria” label because sometimes it's appropriate, no matter how hysterical feminists get about it, but that difference to males doesn't mean males are a superior model of calm behaviour, as a battlefield may demonstrate.)

The feminist notion that, "patriarchy demands of all males that they engage in acts of psychic self-mutilation, that they kill off the emotional parts of themselves" – as if men just wilfully choose to cut off their own emotions – is simply daft, and it's frankly arrogant & condescending of women to "femsplain" to men by claiming they know everything about typical masculinity, what causes it and what's best for men.  Actually research shows that suppressing unwanted thoughts can sometimes be good for your mental health (especially for those suffering high anxiety or post traumatic stress), and men process distressing feelings differently from women, and tend to better regulate their emotions through actions rather than words.

So together men and women can form an ideal yin-yang partnership, with women helping men develop their emotional & communication side and men providing women with a stoic rock of support during times of crisis.  Research also indicates that masculinity is good for men's own mental health, and self-confidence in one's own masculinity reduces suicide risk.

Yet what happens when you take away men's noble purpose if boys have no Dad role-model for supporting the family (often because of parental alienation), and when the role of men in a changing society is becoming less clear, with poor prospects for many young men for gaining secure employment and being able to have and support a family?  Then you have masculinity without a purpose, including pent-up aggression and frustration with no productive channel (perhaps without even knowing why).  Combine this with a feminist culture and political-bureaucracy that tells these boys & men they're privileged, shames & insults them by labelling their very nature "toxic", and refuses to listen to or act on their problems, and you have the conditions that lead to poor mental health and desperate & angry behaviours, or so-called "toxic masculinity".  So contrary to some feminist views, when you disparage masculinity and try to make men more like women, you don't get less toxic masculinity, you get more.  Conversely, it may be argued that what society needs is not less masculinity, but more (of the good, "traditional" kind).

We shouldn't condone or excuse aggressive & hateful reactions from some angry men, nor should we (and probably can't) stop the rise of women in modern society, but we can show compassion for struggling men.  Indeed, as MLK said:

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