One of the ongoing missions of my site is to make men better. Self-improvement is one of the keys for men who want to have greater social success – whether it be sexual, romantic or otherwise. Unfortunately, the idea of “what it means to be a man” tends to get in the way. As more and more men confront the fact that the white, heterosexual male is no longer the automatic default, more and more people cling to a fetishized ideal of “manhood” predicated on supposedly “natural” aspects of manliness that men should supposedly aspire to have. But these “ideal, manly” traits actively harm men and women – a form of toxic masculinity.
Of course, just saying the words “toxic masculinity” is enough to prompt some people to immediately become defensive and aggressive. There’s a certain segment who will resist the idea that masculinity needs to be examined and refined; they leap to the accusation that “toxic masculinity” means maleness and masculine-identified traits are inherently bad and undesirable. But this form of masculinity isn’t “natural”; it’s a script, a narrative based on believing that the most negative stereotypes associated with maleness are inherent within the gender.