A Texas girl’s take on “toxic masculinity”

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Photo by Patrick Vitale

The concept of toxic masculinity is making a lot of headlines these days. College campuses, along with the rest of the world, are becoming more deeply impacted by it as time goes on. 

Male chivalry and aggression have come under fire as its manifestations, while women are encouraged to be more and more “assertive” and to demand to be treated exactly the same as men.

Well, I’m a college-going woman in the market for a husband, and here’s a woman-on-the- street perspective on masculinity, toxic or otherwise:

I do not want to throw a better punch than my husband. If I can beat him in a sparring match where I fought clean, I ain’t marrying him.

I do not want to come home from the grocery store and park my flaming red Dodge Hellcat next to a Prius. And so help me, I do not want to be the one going to work while my husband drives to the grocery store.

When something goes “bump” in the night, I do not want to be the one sweeping the house with a shotgun while my husband hides behind the bed with the kids.

I do not want to marry Peter Pan. I do not want to marry a soy boy. I do not want to pick up my husband from his parents’ house on my wedding day.

Now, let me clarify something. This has nothing to do with whether I punch well or not (literally or metaphorically). I know that I do. It has nothing to do with whether I can handle a gun or not. I know that I can. The point is, I should not have to. 

The woman is the home’s last line of defense. When she goes into action, you know that things are desperate. And yes, if the enemies of freedom invade America and civilization as we know it crashes and burns, I will be with the rest of the women in my neighborhood doing everything I can to help, with a gun in one hand and bandages in the other, and I will teach the sons of bachelors who dared to threaten my family that there is nothing in the world more terrifying than a Texas girl fighting for her husband and children.

However, I don’t have to be able to shoot or punch or argue to be a strong woman. A strong woman can stay at home to raise her children. She doesn’t need to be a man or to compete against men. She can be soft-spoken and gentle and nurturing. She doesn’t need to be “assertive.” 

Women who try to be men are insecure in their femininity and try, in often detrimental ways, to make up for it. I’m not immune to that temptation myself, and to the degree that I yield to it, I demonstrate my own insecurity. 

There is, however, another aspect to that temptation, a defensive one. When none of the men in a woman’s life step up to be men and provide the protection and security that empower her to fulfill her God-given role as a wife and mother, she learns not to rely on them. When men don’t act as men, women learn that, if they want to get anywhere in the world, they have to do everything for themselves. 

I am lucky to have a long heritage of godly male leadership in my family. I’m looking for a husband to carry on that tradition.

A man does not have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger to meet these criteria. A man does not have to be Frank Castle to meet these criteria. In fact, I don’t particularly want to marry either one. I’d be far happier with an ordinary guy who has a good nine-to-five job. But if, God forbid, we end up in a fire-fight and I can’t trust him to have my back, why on earth did I marry him in the first place?

I’m not asking for a superhero or an uber-macho tough guy. I’m asking for a man. A man who will hold the door open for me and take me to church. A man who will teach my sons to play catch on the weekends, and while he’s at it, teach them to be real men and to treat their sisters and their sisters’ friends with respect. A man who will stand up for what’s right, and teach my children to do the same. A man who will have my back in life, even if we never end up in a fight together. A man who throws good punches so I don’t have to. 

If that’s toxic masculinity, I’m all for it.

All of you Peter Pans out there, listen up. If you want to marry me, man up.

To the real men out there: Don’t stop looking. We’re waiting for you.

10 COMMENTS

    • Unfortunately the male traits listed under the label “Toxic Masculinity” are praised when exhibited by so called strong women. This is why there is an over abundance of toxic women in our society; that has caused men to walk away from marriage and long term intimate relationships.

      I’m 61, married for nearly 39 yrs and a grandfather. If i could do things over again or of i were starting out today under no circumstances would i even consider marriage. Instead i would live my life as a celibate bachelor and purposely avoid intimate relationships with woman.

  1. god shame a woman that acts assertive
    traditional values, don’t be acting that subversive
    I am the man, market supply and demand
    stick to the plan, stand back in your place in the fam
    never marry a man that can’t throw a punch
    and only hit your woman when you wanna go for lunch
    work is for the man, women pick up the ham
    god help me if my car is worth 40 grand
    and if I’m in the kitchen aiming down the sights of a shotgun
    I’ll be embarrassed to tell the truth when the cops come
    and lord let no man be Peter Pan, keep your man, my desires are no deeper than a ceiling fan
    the only tone at home is soft and gentle
    drive my kids to the dentals, only tradition on my mental
    he throws punches so I don’t have to
    stand up and be strong? let me ask you
    a nice guy, nice try he might cry without being asked to
    Peter Pan can’t be my man if he don’t man up
    I must be shorter when we both stand up

    but here’s my answer
    of course a woman can do what a man did
    your message, it’s hard to understand it
    I think women can be strong, I don’t take their strength for granted
    but also have the pride to rep her man, he gets reprimanded
    the standards you set can be improperly handled
    and while your goal honorable, the message scrambled
    I believe myself to be more like Peter Pan
    I like art and cooking, and I read and rap
    so I guess I don’t deserve a woman
    I won’t “man up” and I won’t hurt a woman
    I believe you’re meant for a certain kind of man
    but I’ll have to pass because I can’t give you what you expect
    but I wish you love and intend no disrespect

    • I appreciate the time and thought you put into this response, though I believe you have somewhat misunderstood the point of this article. In the first line, you say that I “shame a woman that acts assertive,” which I don’t see anywhere in my article. I say that women who act like men are insecure, but a woman can be assertive without acting like a man, and I think that’s pretty clear in the first half of the article. In fact, I imply rather strongly that I am such an assertive woman.

      My other concern is that you appear to equate a man who is willing and able defend his family with a man who will beat up his wife. Those are actually polar opposite characteristics, and I would be curious as to why you were so quick to consider them connected.

      Finally, nowhere in the article do I say that a man can’t like cooking, art and reading, or that that makes him into “Peter Pan”. If you look at the last full paragraph, pretty much all of the characteristics mentioned have to do with courteous behaviour and provision for the household, and say nothing about what a man does with his leisure time. What makes a man a Peter Pan is the abdication of his responsibility to his family, not his personal taste.

  2. Thank you, Amelia, for writing this article and not being afraid to publish it. Men should be men, and women should be free to be women. It is such a shame that no one even seems to understand what those words mean anymore, and that any mention of chivalry or femininity in a positive light is instantly disqualified as backwards and uneducated.

  3. So what exactly do you mean when you say “toxic masculinity”? What do you think people mean by that phrase? You never address what you’re arguing against – if your ramblings on personal preference can be taken for an argument in the first place. From your article, I gather that your interlocutor believes that it would be bad for a man to be strong, work, argue, or – because this is Texas – shoot a gun. But who says any of those things are bad? Who’s your imaginary foe? There’s a logical fallacy in here. It’s called the “straw man”: taking someone’s argument and exaggerating it to the point it’s ridiculous in order to more easily knock the it down – exactly what you did in this rambling. Is this addressing an argument or is this newspaper your version of a dating app? Editing staff: maybe read the articles before you publish them?

    • By “toxic masculinity,” I mean the term as commonly used in media today. Dictionary.com defines it as “a cultural concept of manliness that glorifies stoicism, strength, virility, and dominance, and that is socially maladaptive or harmful to mental health”. My argument here is that the glorification of “stoicism, strength, virility, and dominance” is not harmful to mental health, but is, in fact, healthy.

      This article is not meant to be a formal argument, hence the lack of opening definition, but a light-hearted touchstone for debate. However, all of the qualities which I defend — chivalry, the ability to provide for a household, the ability to fight — are aspects of so-called “toxic” masculinity, and therefore to speak out in favour of them is not to commit a straw man fallacy. As for who makes the arguments against which I am speaking, an internet search on “toxic masculinity” will reveal numerous examples of news articles and dictionary sites advancing the concept.

      Speaking of fallacies, by accusing me of using the university newspaper as a dating app — which was, incidentally, very far from my mind when I wrote this article — you have committed an ad hominem attack, the fallacy of attacking the individual making the argument rather than the argument itself.

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