Healthy Masculinity -- A Critique
Updated: Jul 22
Healthy masculinity refers to the idea that men can be emotionally expressive, have female friends or mentors, and express their emotions without feeling emasculated. It is a term that aims to fight against what is known as toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity is the dominant form of masculinity wherein men use dominance, violence, and control to assert their power and superiority. I will provide sources in the end.
Although I am not a sexist, I think I debunked sexism's reasoning, this article will be focusing on men. That's because many societies may value gender roles, and I'm not writing to myself.
What does it mean to be a man? Although it may be different from country to country, it seems like many people, regardless of nationality, have a "clear" understanding of what a "true" man is. That might be the traditional man. The stoic, dominant, and often silent man. The "real" man is of "higher" value.
He is the one that provides for his family. The worker, the manager, and the family man.
Even if he's not physically violent, people might be intimidated by him. Perhaps, women, especially. People may experience "violence" by him, because they might not be too confident about themselves.
As I got more confidence in life, the world began appearing less violent. Far less. That is, even though my life was rarely threatened.
I was described by someone, once, to be "violent", even though I do not lay hands on anyone. I restrain myself on purpose. Both in body and mind. I must do so for my ambitions.
And that is the problem I find with the concept of healthy masculinity. No, I do not support toxic masculinity. If anything, I support asceticism and stoicism. One restrains our payment, and the other, our future regrets.
And indeed, my philosophy of Rubinshteinic Individualism is ascetic and stoic in nature. You can read more about it if you want. I will link an article to it, too (not Political Rubinshteinism, which is something else).
In Israel, there isn't much of a culture of self-restraint to anyone. And then we, the locals, may wonder, how come people are rude, insolent, and disrespectful. We do not use respectful titles such as "Mr." and "Sir". We call each other "brother", "sister" and so on, even though a minority of us may not like it (as I researched empirically).
I guess that is one way to look at healthy masculinity, and thus, why it isn't necessarily a good thing. Expressing our emotions just because we may feel like it.... that is a social mistake. It isn't that it's necessarily "toxic". It's just that restraint can be imperative for our ambitions. Thus, avoiding helpful choices just because of toxicity, or the idea of it, can harm us, thus putting ourselves in disadvantage.
Let's say you're going to an interview. I went to interviews several times myself. To raise the chances of getting the job, you must provide satisfactory answers. You must be biased towards yourself and towards your skills. Am I correct? And even when the interviewer detects a problem in your details, you should put it in a lower regard, in comparison to your skills, behavior and work ethic. It's rhetoric. The art of convincing the other side.
Another source refers to toxicity as this: "A toxic person is anyone whose behavior adds negativity and upset to your life."
The problem I find with the conception of toxicity, is that sometimes, sacrifices must be made. Not of people, necessarily. Of emotions, of thoughts and so on. Not in the name of others, necessarily. But in the name of ourselves as well. Ourselves and our intentions, ambitions. For ourselves, for others. Sometimes, for the world, too. Do you understand?
That also includes any other thing that is deemed "toxic", such as "toxic positivity". "Toxic positivity" is when the emotions of someone are "cancelled" by others. Cancelled in their legitimacy, I mean. When you may be told that there's no need to be dramatic, or no need to be so sensitive, that's toxic positivity.
To reduce this article's bias, let me say that of course we're should and allowed to express our emotions. Men, women or otherwise. There's also another problem in "toxic positivity" -- we do not have to give so much "power", or importance, when someone "cancells" our emotions, and distress.
By being more assertive, and reasonable as well, you might be able to surpass others' little-to-no regard of your emotions. You just need to explain to them logically and honestly, and your chances can rise significantly, to convince them to back off from their minimizing. (By the way, I'm not talking about having or not having female friends. The choice to even try and seek friends is your own).
But the thing is... We do not live in a vacuum. Most of us do not live in secluded hermitages. I am a physical hermit, but I partake in society intentionally. Solitude... is a great way to express yourself, because in society, you may be limited by others. By the norms, or even by the law. To live in a society, means that at least someone is going to be restrained.
And I need to restrain myself in order to be a better public figure. In order to make more rational choices, and write more rational articles for the world to enjoy. I will limit myself in the name of that end. As we say in Hebrew: "A hero is one that conquers his urge".
Eat your greens from the source. They are good for you.