When Masculinity Isn’t “Toxic”

chivalry

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I’m about two-thirds through my read of the Superversive Press anthology To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity, which I plan to review both on my blog and on Amazon. I’ve already written about my anticipation of this volume and authored a review of The Last Hunt, which was Richard Paolinelli’s contribution.

Last night before going to bed, I read the Campus Reform article, Researchers say masculinity training ‘ignores human nature’ written by Toni Airaksinen, and I was amazed at how the themes of her missive and the anthology converged.

Apparently, there’s something on university campuses today called “masculinity training,” which is designed to purge male students of their ‘toxic’ masculinity. In fact, a Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is calling for ‘toxic masculinity’ training in kindergarten.

However, as cited in Airaksinen’s article:

The findings of a new peer-reviewed study suggest that college masculinity programs may be “damaging” to the romantic prospects of male students.

Led by University of Iowa researcher Pelin Gul, the study “Benevolent Sexism and Mate Preferences” discovered that women prefer men with chivalrous attitudes and behaviours, since those men are seen as more likely to “invest, protect, provide, and commit.”

It goes on to say that even “feminist women preferred chivalrous men, the researchers discovered, suggesting that ‘attraction [to chivalrous men] may be a mate preference for women in general, and not just for women who endorse traditional gender roles.'”

That’s pretty amazing.

The themes in “To Be Men” map substantially to this same sort of fellow in story after story, where men are depicted as protectors, guardians, and yes, traditionally chivalrous, sort of like what we used to call a “gentleman.”

I know that for some, the “traditional” male who displays such behavior is seen as “benevolently sexist,” or someone who performs chivalrous actions because women are somehow weaker and need male protection. I suppose that’s why the current incarnation of the entertainment industry is being flooded with what has been called “strong female characters.”

Believe me, I have nothing against female superheroes (or any other kind of female heroes), but how we depict men and women in movies, on TV, and even in comic books, shouldn’t always go against how people are in real life.

Of course, I’ll be celebrating my 64th birthday soon, so you might simply dismiss me as old-fashioned, but Pelin Gul’s study was conducted in the present and involved current university students, people who are younger than my own children.

I’m beginning to suspect that “chivalrous” behavior in men, and how women generally tend to respond positively to said-behavior, isn’t merely an artifact of culture, but rather a dictate of nature.

That means the Superversive Press anthology I mentioned above might have come along at the right time, at least as far as mirroring the true nature of how women want men to behave.

Masculinity isn’t always “toxic,” aggressive, or violent. There probably are a lot of guys out there who are quietly masculine, who treat their wives (girlfriends, significant others) and children with love, tenderness, and respect, and those women and children perceive that behavior from these men as protective, nurturing, and honoring.

Unfortunately, these men tend to get lumped into the same pile as mass shooters, serial killers, and rapists, at least in social and news media, which leads me to believe that those media outlets, just like the “toxic” masculinity training on some college campuses, do not reflect anything about real people, both men and women.

Oh, you might also want to read the 2016 Intellectual Takeout article, Study: Chivalry Not Dead After All, or just Google “chivalry.”

Food for thought.

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14 thoughts on “When Masculinity Isn’t “Toxic”

  1. I don’t know why this is a question, in everyday life. But I can see why someone would want to do a study to quantify and describe.+ Just because we do that now. I don’t, though, know who is “lumped into the same pile as mass shooters, serial killers, and rapists …” (or why that is the category for being toxic).* I have made some observations, however. For instance, it seems to be that many men or men and women now think that since women can have jobs (while they used to be limited to things like teaching and secretarial work and those only until they got married or pregnant), they should. And, conversely, if someone makes what might be considered an old-fashioned (or chivalrous) gesture, and one says thank you (say for an opened door or even a paid dinner bill), there is an entitlement (in the minds of some) to patting a butt or getting at least a kiss. Not truly chivalrous then.

    * Maybe this can be likened to people who think they aren’t racist because they don’t intend to murder black people, or whatever kind of people, or put them in literal chains any more… at least first hand.

    + Just tallying a majority of women who this or that still doesn’t mean any woman or all women have to confirm or conform to said expectations. Or appreciate every so-called instance.

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    • I don’t think the “patting on the butt” behavior would be considered chivalrous. I’m thinking more “lifestyle” rather than an occasional door opening behavior. It is true that not literally every single woman would appreciate this, and one of my sons did observe a woman on our local university campus some years ago, object when a man held the door open for her. However, in my decades long life, I’ve never had a woman (or man for that matter) object when I held a door open rather than letting it slam in their face.

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      • Lol. Yep!

        …. one of my sons did observe a woman on our local university campus some years ago, object when a man held the door open for her. However, in my decades long life, I’ve never had a woman (or man for that matter) object when I held a door open rather than letting it slam in their face.

        There are times, though, that you can tell someone went out of their way to be a man or express their concern for your situation (or their interest in you — women, a woman), and so on.

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      • I’m not arguing that, but it’s impossible to anticipate every person’s response. The best I can do as an individual, is to behave out of what I think is right, and if someone has an issue with it, I’ll be polite about it and move on.

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  2. In thinking about who is “lumped,” a memory came to me. I occasionally tune into FOX to see what’s going on there. It’s completely random, so I run into a lot of “stuff.”* I don’t think I have the precise episode nere, but after a shooting once (recently), Tucker went into this thing about poor men. So he was lumping. Ugh!

    https://www.feministcurrent.com/2018/03/31/tucker-carlson-thinks-men-failing-women-better/
    Tucker Carlson thinks men are failing because women are doing better than they were in the past

    * The most recent time, I found Laura Ingraham saying (with a guest) we aren’t continually at war like we used to be (specifically such as when NATO was formed). Hello? Is thing on?

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  3. …. it’s impossible to anticipate every person’s response. The best I can do as an individual, is to behave out of what I think is right, and if someone has an issue with it, I’ll be polite about it and move on.

    I totally agree.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Just remembering, while thinking about all this, I once was patted on the butt after (actually in immediate response to) talking to a man who had mowed my lawn. I’d wanted to point out that he had gouged up the yard with his equipment (which I had never seen anyone do before). He smiled and said I had Jewed him down… while simultaneously tapping me. I’m not accusing him of rape or mass murder, but that’s toxic. So he really got me going. As mild as I am (which you probably can’t discern online, and which was more the situation in the past [and I’ll leave that at that]), he was told some things I don’t know but doubt if anyone had bothered to tell him before.

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  5. I said: … Tucker went into this thing about poor men. So he was lumping.

    I would guess my words don’t come through clearly here.

    I don’t mean men who are poor.
    I meant more like when I referred to
    an honorably-discharged young guy with
    PTSD as “poor” guy/kid. It makes sense to feel
    for some people In certain situations — but not to go
    making a political argument about men being oppressed.

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/9-times-bill-oreillys-replacement-tucker-carlson-showed-off-his-sexist-cred_us_58f7a169e4b0de5bac43429c
    [And I’m not sure how many people have heard, but Bill Shine now works directly at the white House.]

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  6. I had no idea “masculinity training” was a thing. That’s pretty abhorrent in practice, though not in intention. I love the study about relationship preferences

    Maybe some of that comes from an overly negative take on masculinity in the last few decades. Too much subtracting of negatives and not enough adding of quality and healthy versions of masculinity.
    There’s nothing wrong with femininity, but rather than making men embrace the feminine, maybe we should reevaluate and remake the concept of masculinity

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    • Thanks, “Deliberate.” Certainly there are men out there who are blockheads and who do stupid and even terrible things, but that’s not masculinity the way I learned it. The ideal masculine man puts the needs of others ahead of his own, especially his wife and children. He acts as a protector and a provider (and sometimes he enjoys movies with lots of guns and explosions). 😉

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  7. It’s interesting to me that people get very upset over the “protect and provide” mentality. I had never thought of this as implying that someone is unable to do so for themselves, yet that that is a common accusation. Like holding a door open, it doesn’t imply that someone cant do it themselves, its courtesy.

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    • I hold door open for both men and women because it’s stupid to let it slam in someone’s face. Also, when two people are married, they do what they need to do to support the relationship. Traditionally, men have been the “breadwinner,” but for decades, western economy has required that both spouses work. If my wife had a job that made a ton of money, I’d stay home and clean, though cooking is definitely something she does better, her having worked in the food industry for over 20 years.

      All that aside, as the study revealed, even young feminist women prefer a man who is chivalrous, because he is more likely to commit and treat her well and with respect, as opposed to the grunting, raw meat eating, knuckles on the ground dragging, macho guys that are shuffling around out there (which is how masculinity is sometimes portrayed in the media).

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