8 Women Discuss Toxic Masculinity

By David Michael Newstead.

Recently, I’ve been reaching out to different women and talking to them about their experiences with toxic masculinity. This led to a range of interesting responses and below are some of the highlights.

Woman #1: The first woman I asked responded just by sending me a Medium article entitled Why Does Dating Men Make Me Feel Like Shit?

Woman #2: So so so many manifestations of toxic masculinity in America: Donald Trump, rape, domestic violence being mostly perpetrated by men, most crime being perpetrated by men, patriarchy…

Woman #3: Most things in the U.S. today are toxic. And normally I would say things would get better when the old school fogeys died.

Woman #4: I think I discussed the idea a bit back in my college days, especially the phrase “man up” which I hadn’t really heard before college. The first definition on that website, that patriarchy is harmful to men, feels intrinsically true. Any stereotype or expectation that fits half the population into a box is necessarily harmful. Needless to say it’s harmful to trans-men, but it also places undue pressure on cis-men. Social constructs might favor men, but that doesn’t mean all men are helped by them. If you are emotional or sensitive, the construct might harm you. Now I feel like the word has more meaning or more baggage. I skimmed a couple articles and they seem to imply feminists are using the term to say all men are violent and women are victims. If that’s what it means, then I disagree. Maybe if the term is used to blame or justify a man’s actions, then it is used incorrectly. I don’t feel that “masculinity” is toxic, I feel that patriarchy is toxic – to all of us. (of course then I have to define each, but I’ll leave that for another day) Anyway, my thoughts as of now.

Woman #5: I have dealt with it with men I have dated as well as in the workplace. Unfortunately, it seems to be rewarded in the workplace or tolerated. I have a male coworker who treats men and women differently. The way he speaks to women is horrible, but he is hardly reprimanded. He is a manager. My fellow coworker had a similar experience at another job. I experience it daily, but I choose not to engage in it if I can help it. I experience it in the workplace, not in my personal relationship.

Woman #6: I am no expert on it, but I look back at past relationships and I think, “Oh that’s what that was…”

Woman #7: I mean, I experience it a lot in meetings. Sad thing is when it happens I just let it. For me, I always think of my nephews. My family is hard on them and refuses to let them cry. I am disliked in my family, because I tell them to cry and have emotions. But I was also raised by a family of bullies. So there is that.

Woman #8: I’d like to punch [toxic masculinity] in the throat and the dick.

Toxic Masculinity in Focus

By David Michael Newstead.

As part of an on-going series about Toxic Masculinity, I’ve been speaking to a number of women I know regarding their day-to-day experiences with men. Below is a conversation with Abigail (not her real name) on the realities of living and working in Washington D.C.

David Newstead: So, how prevalent are misogyny and sexism in your life?

Abigail: I don’t mean to laugh, but it’s basically everywhere.

David Newstead: Can you describe some of these daily run-ins?

Abigail: Funnily enough the amount of run-ins I had decreased quite a bit once I left my old job. But in general getting hit on or stared at if I wear anything “too” short or revealing, being told to smile by strangers, random sexist graffiti like on the metro.

At my old job, it came out a lot in job roles. Automatically being given “housework” tasks like setting up/food ordering/event planning. Men on my team and others being given a lot more platitude to fuck up or voice concerns while women were not. All while knowing that just about every single man was making more (usually much more) than women in the same position or higher. That doesn’t really happen at my new job, or if it does I don’t notice it.

But other things that are more general include worrying that if I don’t put on makeup to go to work I won’t be taken as seriously. Or when I was negotiating my offer the fact that I had to consider my boss’ “feelings” and make sure that I wasn’t being too forward in my time while I was daring to ask for more. But overall in my experience men are given more opportunities and are given a lot more room to fuck up before anything is done about it. Not just in work, but in all aspects of life.

I’ve been asked in a job interview if I was planning on getting married or if I was in a serious relationship. Men who hit on me only stop if I lie and say I’m married or have a boyfriend. I literally wear my mom’s wedding band on my right hand and switch it to my left when I don’t want to be bothered by someone. Getting honked at, followed in cars, cat called and followed down the street.

Oh and my favorite is guys at a bar who think their best version of an opening line is to introduce themselves and then start to criticize something about me. Then shortly thereafter ask my friend and I if we’ve ever made out. Again, funny enough, this type of thing doesn’t happen when I’m out with guy friends. And if a guy does try to hit on me while I’m out with male friends, he almost always asks one of them if it’s “okay” first. Because a lot more men than you wouldn’t see women as equals, but as means to an end. An entity that exists solely to support them. And if you aren’t supportive at all times, even to complete strangers, you’re a bitch or a whore.

I know toxic masculinity exists because it’s been ingrained in me to constantly be thinking about other people’s feelings. And horribly enough, even more so men’s feelings, to protect myself. I have to be polite and smile when I tell men I’m not interested because otherwise he could start yelling or turn violent. I’ve seen it happen.

It’s been happening basically all my life so unfortunately you get used to it. It helped that I went to an all-girls middle and high school, so the experiences didn’t really ramp up until college and post grad. I didn’t really have the terminology for it until recently to be honest. You kind of just accept it as how the world works. If I let myself get angry every time it happened I wouldn’t be a pleasant happy person. But when asked I can definitely tell some stories as you can see.

Walking home alone is not a thing, especially if wearing anything remotely close to revealing. Same with late night metro rides: not a thing. I mean I don’t get hit on every single day at least overtly, not counting silent stares or whatever. But I think that’s only because my commute is mainly other people going to work so everyone is focused on their phones or whatever.

Toxic Masculinity Reader

What is Toxic Masculinity?

By David Michael Newstead.

It’s not especially complicated, I guess. Toxic Masculinity involves men harming others and often harming themselves. The most obvious examples are serious and widespread: sexual assault, harassment, suicide, and acts of violence. But more subtle examples are also pervasive in our society. These are habits we associate with being “manly” that are, in fact, detrimental to an individual. For men, that could mean what we eat, how much we drink, substance abuse, or other lifestyle choices that overtime can cause serious damage. For instance, I’ve had more than one friend admit without being asked that they didn’t believe they would live passed the age of 50, because of their unhealthy lifestyles. So if we associate manhood with stoicism and repressed emotions, to conform to this many men will basically drink themselves to death as a way to deal with their feelings. And that is an example of Toxic Masculinity.