Society often flirts with terms without knowing what they mean. This process is extensive, unsophisticated, usually callow, and serves only to feed the herd its own poison. One of these terms is “toxic masculinity,” wherein the active and distinguishable aspects of what makes up a man’s experience in the world are deemed negative and infectious upon other men, and destructive, or at least retarding, of society at large.
These aspects are never coherently listed, but would be near-verbatim to what may constitute a recognisable Warrior Ethic; Kat Trigiani — urbanite yoga woman who longs for her husband to die — defines masculinity as:
Physical strength and bravado, exclusive heterosexuality, suppression of “vulnerable” emotions such as remorse and uncertainty, economic independence, authority over women and other men, and intense interest in sexual “conquest.”
Taking this description, toxic masculinity is an intriguing idea. But first, its origins: the term was initially formulated by men for men and binds its roots in the folklore poet Robert Bly — originally, he recognised that male energy had been purposefully eroded by the capitalist and industrialist machinations of progress, and he hoped to return some of the sophistication to masculinity through the use of myth and folklore. His solution was by way of peculiar New Age form, based in the creation of a MYTHOPOETIC man through male-only gatherings, such rituals as fireside camping and tribal singing that tickle the ear in embarrassment but which we can secretly yearn for.
The architects of toxic masculinity’s genesis shepherded it instantly into the field of self-help. Our inexpressivity, our directionless competition at our workplaces, and having to explain all actions in a feminised voice, hid what the mythopoetic movement called “deep masculinity.” That is, a genuine and mature, non-violent, emotional masculinity. This goes too far, and they began to instantly challenge tradition, and talked much too much about power relations and returning to agrarianism and other such nonsense. In fact they would go up against the Warrior Ethic specifically — mad prisoner Terry Kupers stating it as “the constellation of socially regressive male traits that serve to foster domination and wanton violence.”
But for this history, and for its overuse today, it is extremely difficult to find a list of examples of toxic masculinity, with conversation constantly being dragged through the mire to depths of Friends or Big Bang Theory, or other such spiritless, sterile, hateful, embarrassing nonsense. Hegemonic masculinity is a more useful term, now, and much more definable, with recognisable archetypes. In short — it posits men as superior human beings and women as submissive, valuing the “competition of hierarchy, sexual prowess and physical toughness at the expense of human dignity.” Two lesbians described hegemonic masculinity as a social ideal that put forward the ideal man as follows:
Young, married, urban, heterosexual, of college education, good complexion, height, and weight and employed. Any male who does not have any of the described character traits should consider himself inferior or unworthy.
There will be readers of this article who entirely agree with this accurate portrayal of the ideal man. Now, of course, this description, and others like it, are only as in-depth as the authors would dare to tread, that is, before truth reached their ankles, because of course anything further reveals the term’s usefulness and its warmth — put simply, its sheer POSITIVITY. Firstly, they need all masculinity to be immature, to be adolescent, so that they can conflate a loving and decision-making husband with the rugby-playing medical student at university who turned her down.
Savagery must be returned to masculinity. There is recognisably a feebleness to modern attempts at revival; warped by individuality or appealing to the nervous heroes of diffuse culture, all that will be generally repeated are several unmeaning words and loose, vague epithets. Usually, this is instantly tiring, & leads to a retreat from society. Remember that, despite what you may have been told, justice is not greater than beauty, and courage not higher than insolence, and rusticity is not the whole of roughness.
As the first Romans who put down their tilling tools and took up swords and the words of poetry, embrace Romanitá, be warlike, be busied, and, more than you may wish, allow yourself to be unpolished. It is worth considering for a minute or two every day, that perhaps elegance or politeness comes at the expense of strength and spirit. It is part of an immaturity of which we are very familiar to say that involved in masculinity is a displeasing braggadocio, but is this not true? These Roman poets, as did our English bards and, if Loki presents an archetype, our Germanic druids, excelled in extempore banter. These sessions of happily laying into each other were not only to insult, but to raise up certain others as exemplars and paragons — to wit, each insult involves an explicit or implicit comparison:
Jesting dialogues began at the harvest and vintage feasts; and carried on so rudely and abusively afterwards so as to occasion a very severe law to restrain their licentiousness — and those lovers of poetry and good eating, who seem to have attended the tables of the richer sort, much like the old provincial poets, and sang of, to some instrument of music, the achievements of their ancestors, and the noble deeds of those who had gone before them, to inflame others to follow in their great examples.
This is not to say that one should not be disciplined, but only that it is a great man’s decision to what end that discipline leads; one can be disciplined towards coolness of judgement, or to flame and fire; to trees and birds, or to battle and storms. Remember that it was long said of Homer — back when our culture was so high that critique of classical genius made sense — that he wrote quickly, without any view or design at all, & even that his masterpieces — which to us seem so coherent and on-brand — were simply a string of ballads about heroes at Troy. What I mean to say is, giving into many of these stereotypes need not affect our drive towards high culture, towards promoting eugenic, salubrious, powerful things, and towards reliving our ancestors’ manifestations of masculinity.
All intellectualising at this level is self-defence; we build an enclosure for us to live within: for men, toxic masculinity is a safe place built to allow violence, to reenact the Peloponnesian War amongst ourselves, to naturally ridicule modernity’s ethico-behavioural systems, to allow — taking the description from balding softface Michael Flood — action, aggression, toughness, daring and dominance. As much as many might argue against this, this toxic masculinity, & the identity therein, is effective, positive and demanding — it is a commanding force, and no level of rebellion against that high spirit could ever produce more glory than living up to its sway.