The war on men

This is going to be an unpopular opinion, offered as it is in a maelstrom of headlines and revelations — many long overdue — about powerful men who have sexually abused, harassed, assaulted or otherwise exploited others. Each day brings new allegations, and nearly every day, more heads roll. But obscured behind the legitimate outrage against sexual predators is an unceasing cultural onslaught against men that should concern us every bit as much as the predation dominating the news…

Masculinity itself risks becoming a dirty word. Across the country, workshops are being held to teach men how to avoid “toxic masculinity.” It’s one thing to suggest, as some of these workshops do, that there is healthy and unhealthy masculinity. (Personal definitions of “masculinity” that equate maleness with violence or exploitation, for example, are clearly detrimental.) But the same could be said of any human attribute or relationship. There are toxic parents, toxic spouses, toxic co-workers; there is healthy self-love, and then there is narcissism, and so on.

It is something else altogether to suggest that masculinity is in and of itself toxic — a not-infrequent idea expressed on social media and by some so-called feminist writers. A workshop offered at the Claremont Colleges last year was promoted with a flier that read, in part, “Masculinity can be extremely toxic to our mental health…” Such a view smears all men, simply because they are men…

Is it a stretch to worry that the same kind of attitude is developing toward men? I don’t think so. Earlier this week, a nurse named Taiyesha Baker who worked at Indiana University Health posted a tweet which read, “Every white woman raises a detriment to society when they raise a son. Someone with the HIGHEST propensity to be a terrorist, rapist, racist, killer and domestic violence all-star. Historically every son you had should be sacrificed to the wolves B*tch.” IU Health later released a statement saying that the nurse in question no longer worked for them.

That may be one rash tweet. But author and columnist Stephen Marche published a serious piece in The New York Times on Nov. 25, “The Unexamined Brutality of the Male Libido.” Drawing precisely the wrong conclusion from the Weinstein et al parade of horribles, Marche invokes the notion of Freudian repression and intones soberly, “If you let boys be boys, they will murder their fathers and sleep with their mothers.” He concludes, saying, “It is not morality but culture — accepting our monstrosity — that can save us. If anything can.”

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