Masculine Toxicity—to be or not to be?

President Donald Trump is lashing out at Joe Biden on for wanting to “beat the hell out of him,” saying the former vice president “would go down fast and hard, crying all the way.”

Mr. Trump tweeted Thursday: “Crazy Joe Biden is trying to act like a tough guy. Actually, he is weak, both mentally and physically, and yet he threatens me, for the second time, with physical assault. He doesn’t know me, but he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way. Don’t threaten people Joe!”

cbs/ap    March 22, 2018

   Here are two grown men(one the President of the United States and the other, a former vice-president of the United States) in their 70’s giving evidence of “male toxicity.”  How does one address such an issue in the social sciences courses, or courses in general?


   Introduction: The last 35-40 years have brought significant changes in male and female gender roles. In the 1950’s and 60’s the roles for men and women were relatively well-defined and non-changing, in more recent years there has emerged much needed change in attitudes and acceptance. The changes have caused many men to have to reevaluate “old” or “traditional” notions of manhood and masculinity known as “masculine toxicity.”  While many men may welcome these changes, this redefinition of roles has caused possible confusion, resistance, and problems for some men.


   As an exercise for class or a workshop,   have each of your students/participants to  write either a male and female manifesto, share their responses,  followed by a discussion (what did I learn, what did I agree with or disagree with, and why? and how it is relative to my personal and professional lives?); secondly, have each female write her perspective of a male, and each male write his perspective of a female, share with one another, followed by a shared discussion (what did I learn, agree with or disagree with, and why? and how is it relative to my personal and professional lives?)

   In essence, I challenge you to give me your perspective which is different from mine so that I may better understand you, respect you, and accept you.


   The following are former students’ responses to this two – part exercise which was used in Contemporary American Society:


Male Manifesto

  1. Men should be able to pick any career of their choice.  No matter if it may be “female dominated” and little support comes from social factors.
  2. Men shouldn’t have to die earlier due to high stress and emotional buildup weakening the immune system.
  3. Some day ALL men will be able to express emotions freely, without anyone labeling them as weak.
  4. With the help of friends and family, alcohol and drugs will no longer be a tool for dealing stress/depression for after the alcohol wear off, the negative feelings are magnified more than before; it is a vicious cycle, therefore why not keep drinking.
  5. Men will be satisfied and comfortable within their own relationships.


Female Manifesto


  1. Women should not have to feel guilty about choosing to have a career, or choosing to stay home and raise a family, or raising a family and having a career.
  2. Women should not feel obligated to apologize or say they are sorry over every little thing.
  3. Women are just as strong, fierce, and brave as men.  We do not cry over spilled milk nor allow emotions to cloud our vision.
  4. Feminism is not radicalism.  Feminists are not man haters and bra burners.  Feminism means equality; we stand side-by-side.
  5. No woman should ever say that she is dumb!  If a woman is unsure about something it is not okay for that woman to tell herself that she is incapable of learning something new.  Women will never be equal if we do not already believe that we are.


Secondly, from the following categories, what is your perspective of the opposite gender in terms of:  macho, relationships( see the following below), careers, health, drugs/alcohol; and feminism.


A woman’s perspective of men:


Relationships- “To date, things are changing in the world of gender equality.  Women want to be treated equally, and they don’t prefer the typical old notions of being male.  Women also want the male to feel comfortable in sharing his feelings with her in a constructive manner.  I know it’s so easy to say ‘we should just treat each other like two equal human beings’ when in fact this is challenging because of the inherent gender roles society has created. I saw a sticker recently, ‘Feminism is the radical notion that males and females are equal.’”


      A man’s perspective of women:

Relationships – “Years ago it was important for the male to be the provider. Now, many women are working and different responsibilities are expected of the males. I think men and women play more equal parts and roles in relationships today than they did years ago. However, in any relationship, it is necessary for the man and woman to discuss with each other what they want and expect in their relationship.”


   Finally, like it or not, gender role expectations are changing for the better. Although challenging, confusing, or scary, more and more males are beginning to understand and accept the advantages of these “new” roles. Hopefully, there will be improved health and less stress, more satisfying relationships, more career options, and less alcohol and drug abuse issues.


Quotations for further discussion:

—“Nobody expects a man and a woman to reach the same corner at the same time.” Marta Lynch

—“Our fathers did love us; they worked hard, they provided, they were in many ways on the outside of the family, and in their silent doing was the expression of their love.” Samuel Osherson

—“The problem is that patriarchal attitudes and values are no longer obviously true. Unless masculinity is differentiated from patriarchy, both will go down the drain together.” Eugene Monick

—“Perhaps the greatest price men have paid for the obsession with fearlessness is to have become tough on the outside but empty within. We are hollow men. The connection between fearlessness and feelinglessness should be obvious.” Sam Keen

—“Having no soul union with other men can be the most damaging wound of all.”  Robert Bly


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