Getting Rid of “Toxic Masculinity”

Common Sense Makes a Comeback

Getting Rid of “Toxic Masculinity”

I’m going to warn you ahead of time that the title of this post is more than a little bit misleading. Masculine traits are not toxic. Toxic masculinity is not a real thing. The so-called toxic traits that are apparently assigned solely to men have nothing at all to do with masculinity, and everything to do with some people just being assholes…and teaching young men how to be assholes.

Let’s take the rise of Andrew Tate as a prime example of everything that is wrong with the perception of masculinity. There are a great many things that Andrew Tate espouses that I wholeheartedly agree with. Men should be prepared to protect their loved ones. Men should be willing to work their asses off to achieve success in their lives. Men should be proud of being men.

All of those are ideals that every man should aspire to, in my opinion. On the other hand, seeing the man slapping a woman around on video because she didn’t “do as I say” is a tough hill to climb for me. He can do as many Tucker Carlson and Candace Owens interviews as he wants claiming that a lot of his more explosive content from years ago is taken out of context or was actually a consensual “skit”, but I think that any young man that follows him needs to really pay attention to what happens behind the scenes…and more specifically, what the man appears to be selling.

It is characters like Andrew Tate that actually generate what people perceive to be “toxically masculine” traits in young men. Grabbing onto the coattails of a man who made his initial fortune by exploiting the efforts of young and impressionable women to sell their souls on a webcam for a pittance seems like the most anti-masculine thing a man can do.

I understand the “I am Batman” mindset that Tate uses to lure in masses of young men that are disenfranchised with how the world works in the modern age. He has cool cars, a big house, and surrounds himself with willingly (or maybe sometimes not?) submissive women…and I guess that sounds pretty awesome to a young kid who hasn’t spent any time in the real world.

Tate is a cartoon character in my mind. He claims that the boogeyman “Matrix” is out to get him, but I think that the majority of his woes are brought on by the behaviors that his own content illustrates to be completely and utterly unacceptable.

His supporters will tell you that the content that offends is in jest and out of context, and if you are to believe this slightly more refined version of him that is giggling with Tucker Carlson or chumming it up with Cand-Ace Owens (watch the interview if you want to understand that reference), you must be able to mentally sidestep a massive trove of content where Tate himself describes and literally acts out abuse on the fairer sex.

That’s not masculinity, and I don’t understand at all why so many so-called “conservative” commentators have taken it upon themselves to lend their platforms to such a person.

But who am I to judge? I was raised for most of my life by a single mother, with occasional moments with what many would refer to as a “toxically masculine” father, who contended with a number of antiquated vices, not the least of which was the adoration of women other than his wife.

My father hunted, fished, and we had annual survival retreats where we would disappear into the forest for a week at a time with nothing but a survival knife and a pack of matches to test our mettle against the elements. We wrestled and sparred like men will generally do, left to their own impulses. He had a gun rack in his beat up old pickup truck, and donned a suit and tie to both church and his day job as an insurance salesman. He gave me my first rifle on my tenth birthday, a bolt-action Winchester single shot .22 that I used during my summer vacations to fill his deep freeze with hundreds of squirrel and rabbit carcasses.

My mother surrounded herself with a string of similar minded men, with quick tempers and streaks of behavior that I think men like Andrew Tate would applaud, at least until she married my current stepfather and best friend when I was 13 years old. One of those men had a penchant for teaching me how to be “strong” by randomly punching me in the stomach or kicking me in the back if I didn’t give him his due respect by not lowering my eyes when I crossed paths with him. He has now cowered in my presence since my late teen years.

Masculinity has a completely different meaning in my mind than it apparently does for an entire generation of young people. A great many of them will say that masculinity is innately evil, while the “Top G” followers of the world have a very warped sense of what it means to be a man.

The world has changed an awful lot since the age when the world dictated that men were required to lead with aggression. To teach their sons to be warriors, and identify “weak” characteristics and methodically beat them out of a young man. That’s a good thing.

On the other hand, as has happened with so many modern day ideological endeavors, we have succeeded in radicalizing young men into two camps: utterly feminized sobbing androgynous boys with no grip on their biological impulses, and hyper-aggressive little shits who think that masculinity is controlling a woman, becoming a Crypto-bro, and beating the shit out of anyone who disagrees with them for any reason.

Well, that overcorrection comes at a tremendous cost. The latter of the two aforementioned unacceptable results will always drown out the first, even if they are massively outnumbered. Weak men will always have to follow strong ones…even if the character of the stronger men sucks.

All of that said, let me tell you what masculinity means for me.

Masculinity is part biological, and partly societal. Regardless of how much people attempt to pretend that all masculine or feminine traits are societal, that simply is not true, and I suspect that the majority of people who espouse those beliefs have never had children. I have three girls and three boys. And let me tell you…boys and girls are in equal in importance, but they are absolutely not the same.

While we are at it, I want to give you a glimpse into my style of parenting. My now 20 year old daughter was a bit of a tomboy. She liked playing with the “boy toys”, digging in the mud, and could frequently be found beating the brakes off of some kid who tried to bully one of her siblings. She did all of those things wearing a pink dress and a tiara…entirely by choice. My wife and I once spent hours cleaning up a gallon of salsa from the carpet because she and her sister had decided it would be fun to play “Hunger Games” with the older sister using a trash can lid as a shield, and my little tomboy daughter using the salsa as some kind of a club. She always defaulted to stereotypically feminine behaviors when push came to shove.

My eleven year old son is a little science and math monster. He studies things that he finds interesting without prompting. He doesn’t ask a lot of questions, because he’s good at Google, and likes to find answers himself. He can be a little sensitive at times, but he also has a mean streak a mile wide when he senses some kind of real injustice. He is contemplative…but his default when push comes to shove is stereotypically masculine reactions.

I’ve never gone out of my way to point out to any of my kids that anything that they are doing doesn’t fit their “gender role”, and yet they have all naturally fallen into those general behaviors sufficient that I am utterly convinced that it is mostly biological. Some boys are more feminine. Some girls are more masculine. There is nothing wrong with that at all.

A few weeks ago, my three dogs decided to bark at an apparent ghost. Maybe I farted in my sleep and it got one of them going and the other two followed suit. I don’t know. But what I do know is that they were scared and made an instant bee-line for the front door. Within five seconds, I was up, boomstick in hand, and ready to face whatever danger the dogs were perceiving.

My fifteen year old son was likewise ready for the impending battle, taking position directly behind me, ready to assist me in whatever violence might be coming our way. There was no fear on his face…just a look that said “These motherfuckers picked the wrong house.”

My wife stayed in our bedroom, content that she had a man in her life that would do everything in his power to mitigate any potential threat. I wasn’t offended. That’s my job. Was my willingness to put myself between my family and a threat toxic? Hell no, it wasn’t. It was my biologically motivated imperative.

Therein lies what I believe to be the core of masculinity: the willingness to put myself between any threat and my family. Be that threat physical, financial, or emotional…it is my job to mitigate that threat to the best of my ability.

Side note: there was no threat that night. My dogs are just morons.

What is masculinity? Masculinity is being prepared to fight, but choosing not to do so unless it is required. Masculinity is making quick decisions when there is no time for discussion. Masculinity is putting your family at the head of the line, even to your own detriment. Masculinity is a willingness to suffer so others don’t have to.

Masculinity is NOT forcing a woman to submit to you. It is NOT being aggressive for the sake of aggression. And anyone pretending that is the essence of masculinity is a fraud.

Yes, there are a lot of men out there who hold a number of stupid and antiquated ideas as it pertains to masculinity, and they do their best to instill those ideas into the younger generation. Unfortunately, there are even more people teaching young men and women that masculinity and femininity are societally driven concepts that need to be obliterated if true equality is ever to be achieved.

It is my opinion that the very concept of “equality” of the sexes was achieved to a massive degree in my lifetime. There is no right that I have, as a man, that a woman does not…other than my being mandated to register for Selective Service upon reaching the age of 18.

My wife is my equal. She is capable, intelligent, and way better at a whole lot of things than I will ever be. She is traditionally “feminine” in many ways, but she most certainly isn’t flitting around in a field daintily loving everything like Dylan Mulvaney likes to do. The stereotypes, by and large, aren’t accurate, and I think that is what society rallies against.

I think the concept of “toxic masculinity” is rooted in the sad reality that far too many kids are growing up without good male role models to help shape their views. For whatever reason, the role of men in too many children’s lives has gone unfilled.

Ask anyone over the age of 30 how powerful it was when their mother said “Just wait until your dad gets home.”

What you’ll find is that if the dynamics of that family were healthy and their father was a good man, that conversation was meaningful, and character forming. This is especially important for young men.

Once, as a teenager, I made a truly dumbass decision. I got caught stealing from the Sight & Sound on the Army post where we lived in Germany. My stepfather and I, to that point, had a great relationship. He was the single man in my life that I respected, and I was stealing purely for sport because I was bored.

It’s a mistake I never made again, and a mistake that I regret immensely. I remember being lugged down to the MP’s holding cell, and being mortified of what was going to happen when my mom and stepfather were informed. They got in touch with my stepfather first, and I felt some sense of relief in that, at least until he arrived.

He had been my rock when my father died. He never pandered to me. He didn’t baby me. He had played video games with me and kept me company for about a month after my father died, sensing my heartbreak and wanting to give me some respite from it. When I needed to vent off the sadness and sob, he would rub my back and remind me that it was okay to let it out.

That was not the man that picked me up from that MP office, and it was one of the most formative moments of my life.

He came in, signed whatever needed to be signed, and then walked out behind me. He was stone silent. Furious. We got into his little pickup truck, and he just started driving. He said not a word, but a massive essay was being written in that silence.

I looked at him and said “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t talk to me. Don’t even look at me right now. I’m embarrassed, I’m disgusted, and you and I are not friends right now.”

Ugh. Had he reached over and punched me in the face, it would have felt better.

We didn’t have much to do on post at that point, so my mother was playing video poker in the post bowling alley.

“When we get to your mother, you are going to tell her what you did. I’m not telling her. YOU ARE. And I swear to god, son, you tell the god damn TRUTH.”

Ugh again.

We arrived moments later. (The post was miniscule.) He instructed me to stay in the cab until he came out with my mother. When he returned, head hung in shame, he had apparently not told her anything.

He waved me out of the truck. I obliged.

“Tell your mother what you did,” he spat, still furious.

“Well…uh…I sort of…”


I quickly relayed what I did, and she responded only with “That’s great.”

The ride home was awful. When we arrived, no one spoke. They let me sit in my shame, and I frankly needed it.

When we went inside, my stepfather told me to go to my room, and that he didn’t want to see me for a while. About a half hour later, he came in with a dinner plate, and shushed me when I tried to start a conversation.

“We can talk tomorrow. I don’t want to talk to you right now.”


The following morning, I woke up to find that my parents had already left for their respective jobs. I went to school and sat in my shame all day long. I got home that afternoon, and my mother said effectively what my stepfather had said to me the previous evening, but punctuated it with “You can talk to him when he gets here. Apparently he has some things to say. I don’t.”

The gravity of this moment still weighs on me today. I had not only brought shame on myself. I had put a tarnish on my stepfather’s CAREER. When he arrived home, he informed me that I was going to be meeting his commanding officer the following day, and I had instructions, in no uncertain terms, to shut my mouth and demonstrate nothing but respect.

That meeting was brutal. I was banned from even walking in to any of the shops on post for a year. I was informed that if I had one more moment of trouble, that it would directly affect my stepfather’s career, as it painted him in a negative light. I would not even want to repeat the tirade that was bestowed upon me that day, but to put it lightly, I came out of that room with a newfound respect for respecting my father’s name. And I call him my father now because that is precisely what he is.

It was about a week before my mom or stepfather cracked a smile, and I am not exaggerating when I tell you that they didn’t have to clean a toilet, wash a dish, or do a load of laundry for the next year. Not because they told me to do it, but because I understood that I had some severe making up to do.

That is the power of masculinity. I was pretty upset that I had to own my mistake to my mother, but I was also aware that she could sometimes be a pushover.

When it came to my stepfather, on the other hand, his honor was important to me, and still is.

Looking back, I recognize several things about that difficult interaction.

  1. He had no intention of doing me any physical harm, but that he was capable of it earned an additional dollop of respect from me.
  2. Your name matters.
  3. Had it not been for that man’s reaction to my nonsense at the time, I probably would have been right back acting like an idiot a few weeks later.
  4. There is a lesson in silence.

To add some additional reference, my mother could be an extremely difficult person to live with, and being romantically involved with her must have been a chore. She was hot-headed, spontaneous, and fiercely independent. She also seemed to be a fan of throwing a slap or punch from time to time, just to try to demonstrate that she was not to be fucked with.

My stepfather managed her better than any man before him ever had. He would put his foot down from time to time when she was being particularly abrasive, and it was always interesting to see the respect in her eyes when she would step entirely out of line and my stepfather would say “That’s enough.”

The one single time he ever put hands on her was purely in self defense, and even that was just controlling her wrists so she would stop acting like a drunken soccer hooligan. Despite my hesitation to refer to my mother as much of a parent, I was very protective of her, A few abusive boyfriends and a hostage situation with a previous stepfather had pulled all of my patience out of me.

I have to tell you that what he was doing was unavoidable. My mother had gotten herself into a significant manic state and was aggressively slapping at my stepfather, but when he grabbed her wrists after eating a few slaps with bad intent, little 15 year old me jumped out of the chair I was sitting in and said “That’s enough!”

He looked at me, face undoubtedly stinging and in a red-faced rage, and responded by saying “I’ll put you through the WALL.”

I was taken aback. He had never said anything like that to me before. He was more than a little intoxicated at the time, and my mother had succeeded in punching every single one of his buttons.

“No you won’t,” I said with no hesitation.

He loosened his grip a bit, and burned holes through me with his eyes.

“You don’t think I can?”

“Oh, I know you can. I just don’t think you will.”

He instantly understood what I was saying. He realized that the situation had gotten out of hand, that he was being irrational, and that he held too much power in that situation, and that his physical reaction was too much.

He instantly let go of my mother’s wrists, walked over to me, wrapped his arms around me, told me he was sorry, and then sobbed into my shoulder. I had seen my mother reduce several men to this state over the years…and I had hoped she never did it to him, but here we were.

My mother was still sitting there in shocked silence. He had never reacted that way with her before, but you can only push a man so far before he is going to respond by letting you know he isn’t going to tolerate it.

And that seemed to be the moment that he and I became relative equals. He still held me accountable to most things, but he recognized me as a fellow adult from that point forward. Hell, I’m 44 years old now, and he still gets on my case about some of my opinions and views, but we have mutual respect for one another, and I would wade through the depths of hell if he needed me to. And he would do the same for me.

That’s the bond that men have. That is masculinity. That’s the importance of a father.

Masculinity serves daughters just as well. My daughters know that their father will throw themselves in front of anything to protect them. They know that their mother will as well, by the way, but that she wouldn’t have to if I was there.

My daughters know that if all hell breaks loose, they have a metaphorical sledgehammer on which they can call at any time of the day or night. That isn’t toxic. That is what men are supposed to do.

This modern day vernacular that paints men as existential threats due to “toxic masculinity” truly grinds my gears, and although I do not wish to manifest the wrath of the woke left by invoking his name, this quote is quite possibly the most accurate statement of truth I have ever read:

“A harmless man is not a good man. A good man is a very, very dangerous man who has that under voluntary control.” – Jordan Peterson

If you disagree with that quote, you are almost certainly in the camp of people who believe that masculinity is inherently toxic. But I propose that if the single most important aspect of men for millennia has been their capacity to protect and provide, and we have built a successful world on the backs of precisely that, maybe trying to eradicate masculinity or label any negative behavior a man exhibits as “masculine” by default might be a dangerous and stupid endeavor.

Could we, perhaps, deal with the fact that some men are indeed inherently toxic, and recognize and appreciate the existence of positive masculine behaviors that a society must have in order to counteract the toxic ones?