“Toxic masculinity” has become one of the latest rallying cries on the left, a new way to attack a favorite target, white men. All kinds of behavior is lumped in under this label. Men who rape women are labeled the same as men who play contact sports. Instead of specifically describing “toxic rapists” or similar, the phrase implies that all men are toxic.
But it’s not accurate. Not all men are toxic. Rapists, abusers, murderers, etc. are toxic. Children’s sports coaches, pastors and men who are caregivers are not. Gillette came out with a controversial ad last month condemning toxic masculinity. It featured men looking the other way as boys behaved badly. But what kind of men did it show? Not thugs and absentee fathers. As author Barbara McKaypointed out, these were neatly dressed, middle-class men barbecuing. These are fathers “deeply invested in family life.” But the ad made it look like even the best of regular, good guys enable toxic behavior by their gender.