Despite its claims otherwise, Feminism’s obsession with redefining masculinity is what’s really toxic!

Posted: August 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

I’ve written on past blogs (though it’s more of a recent thing) that, at its core, I don’t think feminism is a bad thing. That is to say I don’t think the core tenets, the actual dictionary definition of feminism, is in any way divisive or offensive. It’s simple, the belief of equality between the sexes. Sure, there are a few variations that seem to promote ‘women’s rights’ above ‘equality’ but that’s mostly semantics and, as ideological definitions go, there are bound to be some evolutions over the years. So yeah, it’s not really a confession or something that I haven’t already put out there but, generally speaking, I think the concept of feminism is as noble as any cause over the last 200 years.

However, there is a huge difference between the base concept of feminism and what it actually looks like today. One of the biggest problems I, and a whole shitload of others, have is that the dictionary definition is an easy way for feminists to ignore the reality of their movement. The dictionary definition and the actual practice of feminists today are so far apart that the dictionary definition has become utterly useless to accurately describe the state of the modern movement. Feminism in 2015 is an absolute mess. It’s a mess of hypocrisy, double standards, ignorance, racism, sexism and, much to my humour, an endless cavalcade of in-fighting.

I mentioned in one of my previous blogs that I struggle with how far to go when criticising feminism. I know, at its core, there’s a valid movement there somewhere. I know, at its core, it’s something I can get behind. I know, at its core, they only want to do good things. However, those desires and hopes are often crushed when I read feminist articles. Hell, I’ve written about enough of them on here to know that there are some very misguided views being promoted as ‘feminist’ but, in my heart, I don’t want to rag on the movement too much because I know its original purpose is valid.

However, there’s a part of me that thinks the less vocal I am and the more polite I am about it is just not good enough. Some modern feminist theories are so utterly batshit insane, so incredibly warped and stupid, so moronic and derisory that it’d be doing them a disservice to not call a spade a spade.

There’s a lot of shit going on in the feminist movement at the moment. If I had the time to write about every stupid article I saw I’d be able to knock one blog entry out every week from now until next year. Unfortunately, I am constrained with the time I have to give to these blogs so I have to pick those that I feel I have more to say about. Generally, the articles I don’t feel I have the time to write fully about end up going on my Facebook page so I can still put forth my views.

There have been 2 or 3 articles appear on my Facebook newsfeed this week, appearing everywhere from Exposing Feminism to the Honey Badger Radio Facebook group. That’s one of the benefits of Facebook, there are articles I see that I would never have found without the use of social media.

Feminism gets a bad rap, especially in MRA and MRM circles, as being relentlessly misandric. While I won’t disagree that there are a lot of areas of modern feminism that are misandric I don’t for one second claim that of the entire movement or the entire population within it. Why? Well, because I believe in the validity of ‘not all men are like that’. If I believe that then there’s no reason why I should believe all feminists are ‘like that’. Misinformed and ignorant of the more blatant hypocrisies? Yeah, absolutely, but not wilfully damaging.

One of the worst aspects of modern feminism is their relentless assault on masculinity. From phrases like ‘toxic masculinity’ to their insistence that simply being a man is to be an emotionally stunted walking disaster they have some utterly absurd ideas about what it’s like to be a man in 2015. It’s just one example of the movement’s hypocrisy – if a man tries to tell a woman what it’s like to be a woman then he’s guilty of ‘mansplaining’, yet one of the core focuses of feminism is trying to ‘redefine masculinity’ or, in short, telling men why their masculinity is bad for them.

Yeah, it’s a pretty pathetic, grasping at straws notion of ‘gender equality’. There’s nothing more patronising than a hypocritical feminist telling me how all my problems in life are caused by the very thing that helps define me. Nothing more patronising than a feminist trying to tell me that I can be a better man if I just follow her lead. No thanks, I’m quite happy with my masculinity. My masculinity is not something that a woman will ever understand and feminism’s constant desire to reshape me into something more acceptable to them is nothing more than a warped fantasy of what they think men should be like, rather than what men would like to be.

I don’t buy into the idea that one of feminism’s goals is emasculation of the entire male sex, however I do believe that they harbour some kind of resentment or jealousy towards men. I have no idea why, it’s not like being masculine is something they actively desire, quite the contrary, but they seem obsessed with re-shaping and redefining it into something else. I can see why men think emasculation is the end goal but I think it’s something else, something a bit less sinister.

I simply think that women don’t know what makes men tick so they try and view it through a female lens. They do what feminists do best – they see a handful of men struggling with their identity and blanket the entire sex with that struggle before deciding that they, and only they, know how to alleviate it. I don’t think the goal is deliberate emasculation, I just think it’s borne out of ignorance, a lack of knowledge on what exactly it means to be ‘masculine’. Rather than try and understand from a male perspective, they simply apply a female filter to it and see that as some kind of desired endgame.

That’s all well and good, but, in order to be a success, it needs to have been a success at some point. Unfortunately, they have had a small taste of victory with male feminists. Again, I’m not tarring all male feminists with the same brush but they are some of the most deluded, batshit insane men I’ve ever come across. It’s fine if you think masculinity is an ideal that you cannot uphold or aspire to, but that doesn’t mean you get to speak for all men. One problem I have is that male feminists somehow believe they have ‘seen the light’ and it’s only a matter of time before other men realise it and join up. They seem to be more accepting of the company line that so much of modern feminism is based on – ‘if you let go of your need for masculinity and embrace your femininity then your life will become easier’. Sorry, but it just doesn’t work that way.

There’s an article I want to focus on that feathers the line between somebody wanting to do something and somebody feeling like they should be doing something. I don’t want to try and speak for the man who wrote this article because that would go against everything I’ve said in the previous paragraphs, I simply want to use this article to highlight one of the many things I find objectionable about modern feminism and it’s attitude towards masculinity. The fact this article is written by a male feminist is good because it shows us the impact of feminism on masculinity from a direct source. By that, I mean that we are hearing about reshaped masculinity from a man and not from a woman. Not that women shouldn’t be allowed to analyse and talk about stuff like this, just that it makes a difference hearing about masculinity from a man rather than what can only be a theorised version of masculinity from a woman.

The article deals with a feminist (and I won’t keep qualifying it with the prefix ‘male’, as far as I’m concerned a feminist is a feminist, male or otherwise) and his struggles with masculinity and marriage.

As I’ve said, I don’t think the inherent endgame of feminism is total emasculation, I simply think they try to reshape men through a lens that they can understand. By that, I don’t think every feminist thinks ‘I want to destroy all masculinity and have only femininity be acceptable.’ I just think their goal is more along the lines of ‘let’s see if we can reshape masculinity so we can understand it a little better.’ Of course, that thinking is seriously flawed as it essentially becomes ‘masculinity-lite’, a diluted version of masculinity that’s infused with femininity which will make the whole concept even more confusing.

As ever, I can’t remember where I saw this article, so I’m just gonna give a shout out to The Honey Badger Brigade Facebook group which has provided the last 2 or 3 articles for these blog entries. Anyway, on to the article:

Now, I’m not going to judge anybody for doing whatever they feel is necessary to find happiness in their lives, but I will question the motives and reasons behind choices that, I think, cause more harm than good.

This first paragraph is where I initially think the entire concept of an ‘open marriage’, particularly in this context, becomes almost a parody of what it should be:

‘As I write this, my children are asleep in their room, Loretta Lynn is on the stereo, and my wife is out on a date with a man named Paulo. It’s her second date this week; her fourth this month so far. If it goes like the others, she’ll come home in the middle of the night, crawl into bed beside me, and tell me all about how she and Paulo had sex. I won’t explode with anger or seethe with resentment. I’ll tell her it’s a hot story and I’m glad she had fun. It’s hot because she’s excited, and I’m glad because I’m a feminist.’

My problem is simply this – what on Earth has being a feminist got to do with it? It’s a simple question, one that will hopefully be answered further along, but it’s one I can’t answer. If he wasn’t a feminist would he still allow his wife to date and have sex with other men? By the insinuations of this opening paragraph then, no, probably not. So what is it about being a feminist that makes this ok? Is this the feminist endgame, for men to suddenly be ok with their wives wanting to sleep around simply because feminism says it’s a good thing? I’m sure we’ll be given a quality explanation!

‘Before my wife started sleeping with other men, I certainly considered myself a feminist, but I really only understood it in the abstract. When I quit working to stay at home with the kids, I began to understand it on a whole new level. I am an economically dependent househusband coping with the withering drudgery of child-rearing. Now that I understand the reality of that situation, I don’t blame women for demanding more for themselves than the life of the housewife.’

As much as I think this article is full of ideas that I can’t wrap my head around, he does actually raise an interesting point on the whole concept of feminism and, to a lesser extent, any ideology.

‘I certainly considered myself a feminist, but I really only understood it in the abstract’

Ultimately, what is feminism if not an abstract concept to all of us? I mean, it’s not a physical thing, it’s not something we own. It’s not like a car or a house. When you buy an Audi you can quite confidently say ‘I’m an Audi driver.’ But how do you become a feminist? I can say ‘I’m a feminist’ but then not do anything related to feminism at all and no-one can tell me any different because there’s no way of owning feminism, there’s not something physical you can buy that suddenly makes you feminist. So, at what point do you become a feminist and at what point does that start to mean something? That’s the point, and it’s something I’ve thought about for a while but could never put into words:

What does saying ‘I’m a feminist’ actually mean? Nothing. It’s a meaningless phrase. The only reason we understand the intention behind it is because of what’s been done in the name of feminism in the past. But it’s just a collection of theories, ideas and concepts. It’s nothing tangible that we can ‘own’. You say ‘I’m a feminist’ and I say ‘so what?’ That’s one of the problems with modern day feminism, because it’s not a ‘thing’, there are too many people who claim the label for themselves but adhere to different standards to others who also hold the label. It’s meaningless and is just one reason why NAFALT is such an easy concept to hide behind.

Aside from that, there is an angle here that I can appreciate – he didn’t know what being a househusband was like until he actually did it. The difficult thing is how broad he brushes his strokes. Not only does he call bringing up a child ‘drudgery’ he also makes a sweeping statement about the quality of life of housewives. His implication is that it’s a boring life to be cooped up inside all day looking after the children. Quite apart from the fact that that was a choice he made it completely shits all over those women who choose to be housewives and love every second of it. In his attempts to empathise with those women who perhaps don’t enjoy the housewife role he kind of shits all over the women who do enjoy through implying they are somehow not making the most of their lives. Of course, this is all conjecture on my part but it wouldn’t be the first time a feminist has decided to impart knowledge in absolutes.

I’m actually beginning to question whether this is satire or not. Either it’s real and this guy is seriously deluded or it really is satire and I’ve just fallen for it hook, line and sinker! I bitch a lot about people falling for satire and people posting it as if it were real so I’m hoping it’s not. A quick look around the site suggests its real but we’ll see.

The next paragraph highlights, I think, the impact feminism has had on modern culture as well as the idea of masculinity. I’ll just paste the paragraph and then explain what I mean.

Still, as a man, I could, if I wanted to, portray what I’m doing as “work,” and thus claim for myself the prestige men traditionally derive from “work.” Whenever I tell someone I stay home with the kids, they invariably say, “Hardest work in the world.” They say this because the only way to account for a man at home with the kids is to say what he’s doing is hard work. But there’s a subtext in the compliment that makes it backhanded: We both know no one ever says it to a woman. Mothers care; fathers provide care. The difference is crucial. Despite my total withdrawal from the economy and the traditional sources of masculine identity, I can still argue I am a provider. I provide care.  

This idea about staying at home being ‘work’ is not what I want to get into. What I really detest about this paragraph is the fact that it is blatantly untrue. The idea that staying home is ‘work’ is something that has come up in feminist circles before, particularly as they like to shroud themselves with some kind of martyr status for being the ones to ‘pick up the slack.’

The insidious thing here though is the assumption that we don’t credit women with the work they do when they stay at home with the children. The author says that he’s often told that being at home with the children is ‘the hardest work in the world.’ I’m not going to disagree, I’m in no position to tell someone how hard it is to raise a child. The blatantly untrue bit comes with this line:

‘But there’s a subtext in the compliment that makes it backhanded: We both know no one ever says it to a woman.’

The idea that we don’t tell women they have the hardest job in the world when it comes to raising children is, at best, a naïve attempt at trying to empathise with the work that goes unnoticed and, at best, a flat out lie that he’s saying to try and gain brownie points within the feminist movement.

We don’t, as a society, tell women they have the ‘hardest work’ in the world? Erm, I beg to differ:

So there we have it, plenty of examples that show that we do value the work women do when it comes to raising children. In fact, sometimes we value it more than the work fathers do. Well done for throwing all fathers under the bus for the sake of feminism.

But what’s this got to do with the ideals of masculinity? Plus, I said feminism was just a series of ideas and concepts, could the same not be said of masculinity? Of course, but that’s the point. Masculinity is something that is personal. There are certain traits we deem masculine that most men seem to embody, in much the same there are a few core tenets that, you would imagine, all those who call themselves feminists stand by. Masculinity is an entirely personal thing, it comes with being a man and can’t really be understood as something inherently defineable. Yes, there are traits some women share in the same way there are some feminine traits that men share (I have a few feminine traits) but, overall, that still doesn’t stop someone from being masculine. That’s the point, these men are trying to redefine something that can’t be defined through a lens that doesn’t understand the fluidity of the concept in the first place.

To put it simply, it would be like me trying to redesign a car engine to make it run smoother when I have no idea how a car engine works in the first place. Feminism trying to redefine masculinity is like a computer technician trying to refit a car. I have no idea if that makes sense to anyone else but me.

I don’t want to go through the entire article because it would take too long. I will pick out the beginning of the next section because, according to the author, redefining masculinity is a necessary evil due to the manifestation of Patriarchy in the way marriage is structured.

In short:

She didn’t present it as an issue of feminism to me, but after much soul-searching about why the idea of my wife having sex with other men bothered me I came to a few conclusions: Monogamy meant I controlled her sexual expression, and, not to get all women’s-studies major about it, patriarchal oppression essentially boils down to a man’s fear that a woman with sexual agency is a woman he can’t control. We aren’t afraid of their intellect or their spirit or their ability to bear children. We are afraid that when it comes time for sex, they won’t choose us. This petty fear has led us as a culture to place judgments on the entire spectrum of female sexual expression: If a woman likes sex, she’s a whore and a slut; if she only likes sex with her husband or boyfriend, she’s boring and lame; if she doesn’t like sex at all, she’s frigid and unfeeling. Every option is a trap. 

The whole point of this article, to me, is exemplified in this paragraph. The author tries to figure out why he’s upset that his wife wants to sleep with other people and comes to the conclusion that it’s his own fault. That is such ingrained self-loathing I honestly don’t know where I’d begin in trying to tell him how fucked in the head he must be.

Let me repeat that – he blames himself for feeling upset that his wife wants to fuck other men! Not only that, he then performs some bronze-medal-winning-Beth-Tweddle mental gymnastics shit in order to justify it, somehow coming to the reasoning that marriage, by definition, is sexually oppressive and it was up to him to break down this facet of patriarchal oppression by disregarding his own feelings and allowing his wife to do whatever the fuck she wants.

I mean, this must be satire right? I’ve obviously just fallen hook, line and sinker for the biggest piss-take on the internet? That’s the only way I can justify this. The author is so ashamed of feeling upset that his wife wants to cheat on him that he doesn’t blame her, he invents some bullshit reasoning of ‘patriarchy’ and ‘oppressive monogamy’. Not only that, he then uses that paper-thin justification to leap into the old ‘stud vs slut’ debate and use that to further justify why it’s ok.

I don’t want to put words in the author’s mouth but this, to me, is pretty much why a lot of men despise feminism. Simply the fact of being a man, simply the fact of wanting to be monogamous, to be with one woman and one woman only, is oppressive to the point that it requires you to let your wife sleep around in the name of feminism because that’s what being a good feminist is all about, regardless of your own feelings. Happy wife, happy life and all that, I guess!

But how does this tie into masculinity? Well, he says it himself – masculinity is so fragile that monogamy is some sort of social construct (what isn’t, these days?) men have invented in order to keep women down, in order to repress their inherent sexuality and sexual freedom. Men are, apparently, so weak and fragile that we’ve reduced women to nothing but prudes or sluts and determined to control their every sexual move lest they don’t choose us.

Not only is that massively insulting to men, it’s massively insulting to women. The implication here is that not only are women too weak to resist the urges that, I’m pretty sure, most people feel at some point, even when in stable relationships, but that they’re too stupid to realise they’ve been tricked into ‘oppressive monogamy’ and need to be ‘allowed’ to sleep around by their husband. Ultimately, in his efforts to show how much of a good feminist he is and allow her to not miss out on exploring her sexual prime, he’s showing he still has control over her sexuality.

Look, I’m not one to try and tell other people how to live their life, I’m not one to try and tell women how to manage their sexual drives, and I’m not one to cherry pick paragraphs from an article. He does state that the open marriage arrangement is available to both of them, he just doesn’t take advantage as much as his wife.

There was a similar story I posted on my Facebook page about a woman who wanted to ‘explore’ her sexuality before it became too late and asked her husband for a similar open arrangement. They both had opportunities to sleep around but her husband ended up having sex with just one woman for a period of about six months. Funnily enough, that upset her. Yeah, you got that right. Woman who wants to open her marriage gets upset when her husband also has sex with other women. The main reason was because it was just one woman that he was sleeping with. I don’t know why that’s so bad, at least it shows he’s committed to something, not just using and losing a different woman every night.

Point is, this article presents men as some kind of enemy to the women they supposedly love, this article presents husbands and marriage as some kind of enemy. It implies that, in order to be good husbands, they have to be ok with their wives wanting to sleep around. Anything else would just be another example of suppressing women’s sexuality. Why women couldn’t have figured this out before they got married in the first place I don’t know.

But what’s this got to do with masculinity and feminism’s inadvertent desire to reshape it? Well, the very idea that being a man makes you feel the need to suppress women’s sexual drives through the oppression of ‘monogamy’ makes it sound like masculinity is inherently fragile and weak which, despite the protestations of feminism, is blatantly untrue.

I also find it funny that feminism is obsessed with parroting the idea that ‘we want men to be open and free with their feelings’, yet their first response to men expressing hurt that their own wives might not want to sleep with them is to denigrate them and label masculinity as fundamentally ‘fragile’. It shows that they only care about men expressing their feelings when those feelings match what feminism wants them to be, not what men actually worry about.

I have absolutely no idea what feminism wants men to be open about because every time men do open up about their feelings they get shamed, denigrated and downtrodden.

It’s no surprise that men are shy about opening up when they are met with cries of ‘male tears’ and ‘manfeelz’. Hypocrisy, thy name is feminism. But we already knew that, we already knew feminism was a hotbed of hypocrisy and muppetry, so why do we allow them to continue to lecture us on how it is to be a man?

I think it falls back to the idea that runs through my mind when I talk about grass roots feminism – why would we think badly about feminism? I mean, this is a movement that has been around, in various forms, for a couple of hundred years (Mary Wollstonecraft was an early feminist, though I’m not sure if the term was really around back then) and we are bashed over the head with the idea that it’s a movement for equality. On the surface, feminism is a movement for equality, that’s what the masses are told and that’s what the masses believe. It’s only when you start taking a real look at the machinations and modern practices that it leaves a sour taste in your mouth. Why would a movement so fervently expressed as one for equality actually be anything but?

That’s one of my, many, problems with modern feminism. We are now so used to seeing feminism posited as a positive movement for everyone that we aren’t allowed any deeper critical thinking of feminist theories without being labelled de facto misogynists or women haters. I think masculinity is hard to define. Men know what it means to be masculine, women know what it means to be feminine. Yes, that’s a very simple generalisation but I think it’s true. We can embody various traits but me liking traditionally feminine things or embodying traditionally feminine traits doesn’t mean I stop being masculine. I’m still as masculine as the next bloke, it’s just not something we can put out there and say ‘this is what is it to be masculine’.

That’s where the problem with feminism’s intent on reshaping it comes in. They’re trying to reshape something they don’t understand. They call it ‘toxic’, they call it ‘entitled’, ‘weak’, ‘fragile’ and any number of other shaming devices to try and break it down, to try and crumble it and then rebuild as something that is more palatable to them. But that’s the problem – what does it mean to be truly masculine? Feminism cannot reshape masculinity because it doesn’t understand masculinity. Men writing articles about how they feel like their masculinity is something inherently oppressive or exclusionary only feeds into the idea that it is something that can be wilfully reshaped and repackaged. When it’s men that are writing articles from a feminist perspective that tell men to feel ashamed of their own feelings, whether that’s a love of grilling (yeah, that was actually the subject of a real article) or upset at your wife wanting to sleep with other men, it only furthers the notion that masculinity somehow is toxic. When a man is told that his likes are a result of decades of socialisation and nothing more, or when a man thinks he has to be ok with his wife’s infidelity because anything otherwise is him embodying oppressive tendencies it makes men feel like they have to change because the very existence they inhabit is oppressive to those they love.

Masculinity is not toxic, toxicity is not gendered, not by a long shot. Feminism wants to redefine masculinity because it doesn’t understand masculinity in the first place. Masculinity, as with femininity and the very concept of feminism, is almost impossible to reduce to one core belief or manifestation.

I don’t mean to tell people how to live their life; I don’t mean to criticise things if people are genuinely happy; I don’t mean to approach this like I have all the answers. I don’t and I will never profess I do. I’m just getting very tired of being told that the very things that make up who I am, the very traits I embody, the aspects that make me the man I am are somehow inherently oppressive and need ‘fixing’. I’m not broken, I don’t need fixing, especially by someone who has no clue what’s ‘wrong’ in the first place.

I am not broken, I am not toxic; I am a man. Start treating me like one and you’ll see that for yourself.

  1. sai says:

    Thanks for the article, very interesting read. I’ll try to share it in as many feminist forums as I can, since they seem unable to understand that reality is much more complex than a dictionary definition.

  2. You say you “know at its core [feminism is] something you can get behind”. Did you know that most fascist regimes START out being a benefit to the majority, productive and constructive? The Nazi regime was hugely beneficial to Germany to counter the devastating effects of the 1929 Crash. At its core, it was to pool people and resources for the betterment of all. Now please take a moment to consider the adage “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Feminism is now an overbearing dogma entrenched in every aspect of the western world. Public schools have been indoctrinated to cater to girls while disrespecting the essence of boys. Girls are now encouraged to be mindless cowards, screaming rape when they regret their OWN decisions and getting every support, emotionally and having access to massive public resources, all while making men responsible for everything that can go wrong. It is in fact the antithesis of equality, yet the still want to carry that long-gone definition.

    • johnsalmon86 says:

      I also went on to explain why I won’t get behind feminism and how I think it’s noble cause is undermined by the actions of many modern feminists. I don’t think at any point in this blog I went on to say I would actually get behind feminism so I don’t know why you’ve made that comment. I’m well aware of what feminism is.

  3. Ian says:

    One day the bloke who wrote that article will wake up and slap himself in the face and probably throw himself off a building for wasting his life. It is hard to believe someone can be that duped and stupid.

    The funny thing about feminism is that is is everything it describes masculinity to be. It is feminism that is toxic to society, it is feminism which promotes sexism, it is feminism that oppresses both genders. Feminism has become the establishment and seeks to control and brainwash the populace.

    If only society could let go of this ideology then society would be better because 99% of both genders genuinely believe in equality. We don’t need feminism to achieve that goal.

    Sadly I don’t think that will happen within our lifetimes becasue of natural gender differences. Men will always back up women who cry oppression even if they are crying wolf. Women will always seek to blame their inadequacies on men. Politicians will always pander to women. This is a natural phenomena that will take hundreds of years to unravel.

    In the meantime western civilization will continue declining as it absorbs stupid harmful concepts that destroy the fair competitive nature of our society which keeps society trim and fit.

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