A Vital Key To Help Y’All Understand Toxic Masculinity

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 6.03% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Yesterday, I linked to this article on “What Is It Like To Be A Man?“, which should actually be called “What is it like to be a man indoctrinated in harmful ideas about masculinity?” because holy shit I’ve never been through a third of what this dude has been through and I wouldn’t want to.

Benefits of friending the girls on the fourth-grade playground, I guess.

But at one point, he said something which some of my female friends took umbrage to:

“‘Men don’t have to think about how they look,’ says another coworker, also a woman, and I nod again. Then I realize, days later, that the reason the statement is still bugging me is that I am literally never not sore from the gym, because I am so concerned with looking a certain way.”

To which women said, not unreasonably, that men don’t pay attention to how they look – one in particular said she’d seen dudes showing up at interviews in a grimy hoodie, which was proof that dudes never had to think about appearances in the way that women do.

Which is true. They don’t.

But that doesn’t mean men – or, rather, these types of trad-masculine men – don’t think about appearances.

Because for those kinds of dudes, showing up at the interview (or anywhere, really) with their hair in a lime-green scrunchie or their fingernails painted a bright pink would be horrifying. It would be girly, and terrifying, and they would avoid it in the same way so many of them avoid picking up a package of tampons for their girlfriends because I can’t be seen like that.

(And if you’re readying your commenting fingers to say, “I don’t think like that!” then congratulations, you should recognize come the third mention of “These sorts of guys” that you apparently don’t fall into that category, good work you, but the fact that you’re not like these guys doesn’t negate the existence of these sorts of duderinos.)

For the trad-masculine men, what you have to realize is that they are dressing up to impress other men. They don’t care that much about the opinions of women; they assume that women are out to impress men, and that other men are also out to impress men. And as such, those sorts of dudes virtue-signal in a constant fashion by dressing according to a strict manly method that pretends to be effortless.

And don’t get me wrong: it is much less effort, because unlike women’s fashions the traditional-manly look doesn’t change from season to season. But it is a narrow range of looks, one that does not tolerate certain colors or hairstyles, and you step outside of it you’ll be noticed by the dudes. (Hell, even paying too much attention to your looks risks marking you as a metrosexual, which has an unsavory whiff of girly city boys. Ridiculous and bigoted as that is.)

Yet that’s the key: once you understand that those sorts of dudes are literally living their lives to impress other men, everything else snaps into focus. You’d think the incels could just clean up and get a nice girl, but no – they don’t actually want a girlfriend. What they want is a pornstar-perfect 10 they can parade around in front of other men to signal that they’ve got the status now, and the fact that said women require effort and change to land strikes them as being deeply unfair, in part because they’d have to attempt to impress someone other than men. Which, as noted, is not their point.

And likewise, in the article on that poor tortured dude, note how he’s enduring years of a miserable cross-country high school group where he doesn’t even like the other guys in it, but he’s afraid to be the one guy who drops out.

Note how there’s a lot of guys who get married simply because it’s what society – and by “society,” mean “the right type of guy” – thinks they should do, normally with mediocre results where they offload duties onto a wife and then wonder why their lives are stagnant.

Note how a lot of men don’t form emotional friendships with other men, because it’s hard to be open with someone you’re desperately seeking approval from, and as a result they swallow their feelings back to the point of suicide because the risk of losing whatever approval you had means so much more to them than the hope of connection.

It’s all about courting dudes. Which explains the problem with so much of traditional manliness – there’s only one type of person worth impressing, and that person is also probably fronting hard.

There’s all the other issues, too, and once you get past the grimy bits of this dude’s psyche he starts making some good points about how traditional masculinity claims to protect women, but doesn’t do a particularly good job at it. And so I’d advise a gander if you got it. (I don’t agree with his viewpoints 100%, but his experience is equally telling and unpleasant.)

But when you look at it, remember that this is why traditional masculinity is hard to define, and harder to reform into something that might be useful – it’s an illusion. It’s a shell game where men have been trained to only want to impress a certain type of man, and that man is probably faking it to some significant degree to impress someone else.

If you don’t fall into the category, you don’t count. Even if you’re a potential employer. Or a lover. Or a savior. Your redemption will come when other dudes look upon you and, if you’re lucky, give you a discreet nod.

And that’s all you can hope for. And man, I hope it’s enough for you.

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous Alex
    Jul 16, 2020

    This makes me sad, but not surprised.


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