PSA: Masculinity is not toxic. The fact that I have to say this speaks to the fact that this notion of “toxic masculinity” has firmly implanted itself into our culture.
The things we used to accept about men — that they’re different from women, just for example — are now labeled “social constructs,” to be done away with in favor of a more “equal” way of life. But, again and again, science shows that men and women really are different and that this whole notion that men only act like men because they’ve been given the power to act that way by the patriarchy is a load of garbage.
So, where does that leave our sons — growing up male in a society that labels them “toxic” simply because of their biology? That depends on us. More than ever, it’s important for parents raising sons to acknowledge the challenges, responsibilities, and opportunities that their maleness affords them, and instill in them key lessons that will help them navigate the world.
Here are a just few:
You are a boy, and boys are different from girls
Regardless of what toys our sons choose to play with, or where their interests lie, the fact of their male biology means that they are going to grow into men (rather than women... I can’t believe I actually have to say this).
Male bodies — the hormones they produce, the way their brains are wired — create certain biological truths. For instance, boys are almost certainly going to grow up to be stronger than girls. They are going to be more prone to taking risks. They are going to have a higher sex drive. None of these things are “toxic,” but they do come with certain responsibilities (just as female traits come with a separate set of responsibilities).
Helping our sons to understand their natural maleness — rather than teaching them that their maleness is wrong or bad — will allow them to process and channel the urges they will naturally feel.
It’s okay to like masculine things and not like feminine things
There’s been a push, of late, to create scenarios in which boys must play with dolls, comb hair, and play house. From op-eds about why boys need to perform “care work,” to actual mandated curricula that force boys and girls to swap gender roles, this notion that adults must steer male children toward traditionally female tasks has begun to take hold.
It stems, of course, from the notion that gender is a social construct and boys are only playing with trucks and guns, and engaging in rough and tumble play because they’ve been taught to by society. But studies have found that children tend to prefer toys that are traditionally geared toward their gender, regardless of which direction the adults in their lives are trying to steer them.
Studies have found that children tend to prefer toys that are traditionally geared toward their gender, regardless of which direction the adults in their lives are trying to steer them.
It’s not that we should be forcing boys who like dolls to play with trucks, it’s that we shouldn’t be forcing boys who like trucks to play with dolls. The kinds of toys most boys naturally gravitate toward reflect those biological urges I was talking about earlier. (Same for girls.) Can a boy play house? Of course! But forcing a boy to play house when he was happily playing cops and robbers isn’t helpful. And it sends a confusing message about what will be expected of him as he grows.
Protect the weak (with violence if necessary)
Modern feminists like to complain about the things men do to protect and take care of them. Gestures that used to be considered chivalrous are now dubbed “benevolent sexism” — the idea being that it promotes the notion that women can’t fend for themselves. But, in certain situations, they can’t. Like, when a 200-pound man is coming at them with a knife, just for example.
The biological fact of a man’s superior physical strength means that he has two choices when it comes to those weaker than him: hurt them, or help them. When it comes to brute force, women are weaker than men. It doesn’t help anyone if we make our sons feel wary about stepping up to protect someone who’s being threatened simply because it makes us uncomfortable that men hold physical power.
Our sons need to understand the responsibility that comes with their greater physical power. If we don’t teach them that, they’ll still have superior physical strength, but they may not know how to use it for good, rather than ill. We shouldn’t promote violence just for the sake of it, but we should teach our sons to stand up for what is right, and use whatever means necessary to protect the weak and the innocent.
We shouldn’t promote violence just for the sake of it, but we should teach our sons to stand up for what is right, and use whatever means necessary to protect the weak and the innocent.
Respect women (even if they don’t respect themselves)
Modern feminism has convinced women that it is “empowering” to behave promiscuously. Since, historically, men have been afforded more sexual freedom than women, women are now trying to turn the tables. But sex for a woman is much riskier than it is for a man because a woman can get pregnant. Not to mention the fact that women’s sexual desires are wrapped up in their emotional connection to their partner, so no-strings-attached sex doesn’t actually meet a woman’s needs, which doesn’t sound “empowering” at all. But, regardless of what a woman says she’s willing to do, we need to teach our sons to respect her and tell her no.
Regardless of what a woman says she’s willing to do, we need to teach our sons to respect her and tell her no.
The fact that some women may be willing to go to bed with a man on first meeting makes it difficult to explain to our sons why they shouldn’t let her. Sex is a strong motivator for young men, and a woman who offers it to them with no strings attached can be hard to turn down. That’s why it’s essential for us, as parents, to make sure our sons understand that a woman should never to be used for her body — even if she’s the one to suggest he do just that.
If we lose sight of the fact that men and women are different, we allow our sons to grow up without the proper training for how to be men. The fact of their male biology and what that will mean for them doesn’t change simply because modern feminists have decided there’s no such thing as gender and that male behaviors are “toxic.” So sending our sons out into the world without a proper understanding of how to conduct themselves as men does them — and the women around them — a great disservice. Now, more than ever, we’ve got to teach our sons how to be men.