Feminism and Toxic Masculinity

Feminism: A War on Masculinity

By Elise DeYoung

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other founding feminists wrote disdain for men into the fabric of their radical movement by penning these words in the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments:

               “The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her.”

Founding Premise of Feminism

Feminism was founded on the premise that all women are oppressed by all men in some way or another.

Of course, it is true that some women have been oppressed by some men in different ways—to argue otherwise is foolish. However, the ideology of feminism insists that the “tyranny of man” is absolute. By viewing the relationship between men and women as a power struggle, feminism concluded that the freedom of all women can only be achieved through the fall of all men, and a revolution among the sexes is the means to this equitable end.

Does this idea ring a bell?

Simply switch out the word “woman” for “proletariat” and “man” for “bourgeois” and you will get the picture.

Now, to clarify, when I speak of “feminism” I am referring to the ideology of feminism—the ideas that formulate the movement. Whether or not each individual feminist embraces and expresses the extreme ideas of their movement is beside the point; the point is that this premise is foundational to the ideology of feminism.

We see the feminist disdain for men gain traction in 1963 when Betty Friedan claimed in her famous book The Feminine Mystique that “the old prejudices” which govern men’s thinking towards the opposite sex are that “women are animals, less than human, unable to think like men, born merely to serve men.”

What is Toxic Masculinity?

Today, this idea is neatly summarized in the popular term “toxic masculinity” meaning simply, “masculinity is toxic.”

Feminists’ hatred of masculinity has caused many generations to tirelessly work to rid the world of all things that can be attributed to men. For years, we have been brainwashed into believing that men’s bent towards assertive and ambitious behavior is evil, and that their desire to fulfill the roles of protector and provider is oppressive. Hence, “toxic masculinity.”

This dangerously vague and deeply corrupt term is frequently wielded by feminists as a weapon in debates and dialogues to justify hatred towards men and to spread indignation among their audience. Sadly, many men have fallen for this lie and bow prostrate at the altar of feminism.

The Truth About Toxic Masculinity

Our society has followed feminism’s example for many decades now. We’ve all come together to shame, demoralize, and castrate men in the name of eradicating toxicity with the hopeful expectation of a promised utopia. Examining our actions retrospectively, I think we can all agree that the results aren’t pretty. Even the feminists, I believe, would admit that we are not living in a Barbie World.

So, what went wrong?

Interestingly, the historical meaning of the term “toxic masculinity” outright betrays feminist ideology and rightfully explains why we are not living in the promised anti-Ken doll utopia. In the late 20th century, “toxic masculinity” was used not to condemn the existence of masculinity, but to warn of a lack of it.

In his 1999 address to Congress, Don Eberly, founder of the U.S. National Fatherhood Initiative and author of many renowned books on sociology, articulated the original meaning of the term saying,

A society of too few mature fathers ends up with what psychiatrist Dr. Frank Pittman calls ‘toxic masculinity,’ where essentially weak, insecure, and poorly fathered men chase after a socially destructive masculine mystique. Men who have not fully felt the love and approval of their fathers are men who live in masculine shame. Says Pittman, boys who want to become men have to ‘guess at what men are like’ which usually turns out being what he calls a ‘pathologically exaggerated masculinity’ that involves ‘a frantic tendency to compete over just about anything with just about anybody.

According to this original definition, our society suffers from toxic masculinity because we have generations of boys who do not know how to be men.

The Solution to Toxic Masculinity

The irrefutable fact is that we need masculine men. The intrinsic characteristics of courage and ambition of masculinity are what drive men to stand up for good, fight against evil, establish prosperous economies, legislate and enforce justice, and raise their families. However, when feminism neuters men by stripping them of these attributes, evil runs rampant, poverty escalates, injustice surges, and families are abandoned.

So, the question becomes, how do we get good, masculine men back?

               “There is only one way out of this shame-filled masculinity,” says Pittman, and that is recovering the “lost profession of fatherhood… ‘we are not going to have a better class of men until we have a better class of fathers.

Feminism identified a real problem: there are wicked and weak men in the world. Moreover, we have tried their method of shaming and ostracizing masculinity from society in a desperate attempt to correct the issue. Yet (again), it has not worked.

The solution to the problem of this is far from the feminist model. If we want to rid our society of toxic masculinity (in the true, original sense of the word), we must teach boys to be men, men to be fathers, and fathers to be models of the masculine nature given to them by God.

(Like so many other social ills, the solution to this problem points back to the Necessity of the Nuclear Family.)

As Don Eberly wisely put it,

               “Young men badly need to see mature masculinity modeled out. Well-seasoned masculinity fundamentally transforms the aggression of young males by capturing their masculine energy and directing it toward socially constructive pursuits, toward self-restraint, and respect toward others.”

So, when “toxic masculinity” is thrown your way as a rhetorical arrow in the feminist quiver, be sure to rightly define your terms and share the real root of toxicity in our culture. And maybe then, we can finally solve the problem of toxic masculinity.

Elisa DeYoung headshot smiling at the camera

Elise DeYoung is a Public Relations and Communications Associate and a Classical Conversations® graduate. With CC, she strives to know God and make Him known in all aspects of her life. She is a servant of Christ, an avid reader, and a professional nap-taker. As she continues her journey towards the Celestial City, she is determined to gain wisdom and understanding wherever it can be found. Soli Deo gloria!