Saw a Facebook post the other day from an acquaintance in the Steampunk community, about a backhanded compliment he’d received on his looks. I commented to the effect that I thought he was a very handsome man – possibly one of the handsomest men I know. I wasn’t kidding.
After posting, I immediately started to wonder what people would think of my comment. That’s how pervasive toxic masculinity is in our culture: a man can’t even admire another man’s looks without worry of having his own masculinity called into question.
Here’s another one: “Never apologize, mister – it’s a sign of weakness.” The quote is from the film “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” and was spoken by John Wayne. What does this even mean – men aren’t supposed to take responsibility for fucking up? They also aren’t supposed to feel bad about being jerks, apparently. It’s not as pervasive an attitude as it was when the film originally premiered, but the attitude still exists.
This one is toxic, but definitely not an attitude exclusive to men: “I don’t care what other people think – accept me or get lost.” Besides bordering on psychopathic, this attitude tells me that this type of person has no regard for others. Not a good neighbor, a good co-worker, or a good friend. The attitude suggest they are completely willing to throw someone else under the bus if it suits them. The lack of willingness to change ANYTHING about themselves suggests that they are unwilling — or incapable — of growth as a human being. Not someone I want to hang around with. There are definitely people in life whose opinions shouldn’t matter to you, but when this ‘love me or leave me’ attitude encompasses everyone, in my opinion there’s a behavioral problem lurking there.
Toxic behavior is easy to find once you start looking for it. It amazes me that our culture has put up with crap like this for so long: maybe that attitudes are changing is a result of the “Me too” movement? If so, that’s yet another thing we can thank women for.