Words Can Be Toxic; Masculinity Is Not
Toxic masculinity, the new term in vogue powering today’s cultural discussion, is concerning. The answer certainly cannot be vilifying masculinity.
Words are powerful. Words matter. Incredible impact for good or evil that comes from mere words. That’s why toxic masculinity, the new term in vogue powering today’s cultural discussion is concerning.
The entire male gender is being attacked over the misdeeds of a few. The fatal error that has been made for centuries is once again occurring: to lift up one you must tear down the other. A rogue misunderstanding has been accepted: in order for women to be free from sexual harassment and abuse, all men must be made out to be toxic.
Another fatal error is occurring as well: either/or instead of both/and thinking. This leads to believing in order for women to be empowered, men must be vilified. A wiser approach is to see that good behavior by men leads to more opportunities for women. The few bad actions by some men cannot supersede the far greater good most men do.
Who coined such a libelous term as toxic masculinity? I’m sure there are those who are well meaning and care deeply for the welfare of women. They have seen too much male mistreatment and champion the call for change. And I support it. No man should ever sexually harass or abuse a woman. Period.
But there are others whose motives are more sinister. They want to reorder society. Take away male power. And fundamentally reshape our culture. Their goal is to vilify all men in hopes of taking power for themselves. They function from a place of victimhood, they want nothing more than a revolution. And they have chosen to define the struggle with the term toxic masculinity.
The American Psychological Association has come out with their “Guidelines for the Psychological Practice with Men and Boys.” These guidelines imply that “traditional masculinity”— traits like stoicism, aggression, competitiveness and dominance—are harmful. It’s almost hard to believe a medical group would be so obviously prejudicial.
And the latest shot at masculinity comes from Gillette, the maker of men’s grooming products. Their television commercial highlights bad male behavior. It communicates a message that is insulting to the many men who do not exhibit any type of this behavior. Society is left to believe that so many men act in these “toxic” ways that they need a commercial to move them to action.
God made masculinity
But God made men the way they are. In God’s design there are distinct differences in men and women. The qualities of aggression, ambition, and competitiveness are male- oriented traits.
Thank God for men who deal with the hardships of life head on. These men are not passive. They use their innate, God-given traits to provide and protect. These men are the leaders, warriors and heroes we desperately need in our world.
If this movement toward men continues, the future is bleak. Already boys are falling behind in school since so many classrooms are not boy friendly. The result is the percentage of men graduating from high school and college is lower than women. Now more women than men are in law school and medical school. The answer to this certainly cannot be vilifying masculinity.
Men who are Christ followers should live according to biblical principles. They know that sexual misconduct is sinful. They know that being unkind is not Christlike. And they know Jesus was a carpenter who threw over tables in the temple when action was needed to protect God’s house.
Being a man is a balancing act between
- stoicism and emotion,
- competitiveness and cheating,
- ambition and humility,
- aggression and patience,
- dominance and service.
It is exactly this challenge that real men enjoy so much. Far from being toxic, it is intoxicating. And when men rise to such a challenge, our families, churches, communities and country are the better for it.
Copyright © 2019 Rick McDaniel. All rights reserved.
Rick McDaniel is the author of the book “Turn Your Setbacks Into Comebacks.” He is also the founder/senior pastor of Richmond Community Church in Richmond, VA. You can find him on Twitter at @rickmcdaniel . And on Instagram.