Two conflicting strains of contemporary obsession collided fatally in Parkland, Florida, two weeks ago, when an unstable teenage boy brought a rifle to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and killed 17 students. The first is guns and what, if anything, should be done about them in a country whose constitution guarantees the right to keep and bear arms. The second is the concept of “toxic masculinity,” the current bugbear of the female social-justice warriors whose brand of “feminism” is essentially misandry writ large. It’s an appalling combination of fear, ignorance, misapplied compassion, prescription drugs, and social mores—and a clear and present danger to American society that we must sort out, fast.
Don’t kid yourselves: by “toxic masculinity,” the latter-day incarnations of the Greek Furies and the Thracian women mean simply, “maleness.” Like all cultural Marxists, the modern feminists have applied the tenets of Critical Theory to the War Between the (Two) Sexes, and have found the male sex wanting in every particular, the force behind every social ill they perceive. Men are responsible for all that afflicts them: their workplace environment, their chances in the dating pool, their economic fortunes; thanks to their uncontrollable concupiscence, men even burden them with children. Every masculine trait, therefore, must be ameliorated by medication or surgery, such as rambunctiousness in young boys; every sign of virility, including strength, courage, and the martial spirit must be stamped out in order to “protect” women. That such a social policy would also mean the end of inventions, infrastructure, heavy lifting, rockets to the moon, and the Golden Gate Bridge never seems to occur to them: men are guilty, and therefore must be made to suffer. Maleness to them is a birth defect.
And what is more masculine than a firearm? To many if not most of the SJWs and Pajama Boys on the Left, the very presence of a firearm in a room is fraught with danger: it might go off by itself. It might have a “high-magazine clip” attached. It might make a loud noise. Worst of all, it might cause an innocent Leftist to pick it up and suddenly experience an overpowering urge to go out and shoot somebody, because firearms are meant to kill people, right? “I couldn’t trust myself around a gun,” you hear them say. As a result, these weak beta-males believe that all men need a gun in their hand to make them feel virile and potent; as usual with the Left, it all comes down to the irresistible sexual impulses that constantly plague them. That a real man feels no more masculine with a gun in his hand than without one never occurs to them.
The mass shooters, especially those who attack helpless schoolchildren and religious worshippers, are hardly exemplars of the masculine ideal. Just look at their photographs: Parkland, Sandy Hook, the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.—these and the others from Columbine to Virginia Tech to the Gabby Giffords shooting are strange, mutant children, generally from broken homes, raised by single mothers, and often on various psychotropic drugs to control their behavior in the absence of a strong father. They are as far from the “toxic” male as it’s possible to get. Real men not only don’t eat quiche, they don’t pick up guns and kill the innocent and the defenseless.
So which is it? Is “toxic masculinity” a real threat to women? Or does the threat come instead from young men who aren’t masculine enough?
It’s a rude question for those committed to the proposition that sexuality is fluid, that what we used to call primary and secondary sex characteristics can be added or subtracted at whim, that there are multiple “genders” and anybody can choose which one suits. At the same time, however, the modern ninny feminists have reverted to parody Victorian status, weak, helpless, and certain that every man is a potential rapist. Increasingly, they demand sexually segregated safe spaces. One might well say to them, get thee to a nunnery, but they’re against organized religion as well.
In short, it’s an insane—call it “toxic”—situation of contradictory counterfactuals that cannot be reconciled. Unable to come to terms with themselves, the SJWs demand that the world conform to them, and they are going to hold their breath until it does. Thus do girls “transitioning” to boys win state wrestling championships against fully female opposition. Thus are bathrooms mandated to be open to all. Thus is a foundational pillar of every society in human history kicked away by Critical Theory, and we are left to deal with the consequences.
Writing in the introduction to her seminal work, Sexual Personae, Camille Paglia famously observed: “If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts.” She has little patience for weepy feminism, writing recently: “It was overwhelmingly men who created the machines and ultra-efficient systems of the industrial revolution, which in turn emancipated women. But many women seem surprised and unnerved by the competitive, pitiless forces that drive the modern professions, which were shaped by entrepreneurial male bonding. It remains to be seen whether those deep patterns of mutually bruising male teamwork, which may date from the Stone Age, can be altered to accommodate female sensitivities without reducing productivity and progress.”
The Stone Age reference is precisely correct. The standards of masculinity were developed under duress; our sexual differentiation reflects the unique but complementary physical and mental tasks each of the two sexes has been “assigned” (to use a favorite Leftist word), in this case by Nature or God—but certainly not by some conspiratorial patriarchy. The burden of proof to overturn our understanding of the intrinsic natures and functions of the sexes is on the “feminists,” not on traditional society, which after all has gotten along perfectly well without feminists for millennia.
If they keep pushing, however, a lot of very uncomfortable questions might suddenly come to the fore: why are women, minus steroids, physically weaker than men? Why do men dominate both the creative arts and the sciences? Why can’t women read a map, or learn to stow gear efficiently in the overhead compartment? Was female suffrage really necessary, and if so, why? You can already hear the outrage.
And yet none of these questions applies to or demeans all women. There have been great female scientists and writers and artists and performers (but not one great composer). On the other side of the ledger, not a single male has ever given birth to, or nurtured at his breast, a child who grew up to be Mozart or Einstein. The hyper-feminists who demand that more women be given jobs in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) never also call for greater female representation among loggers, roustabouts, wildcatters, and serial killers.
Can it be that the Platonic Form of a woman is really a man? And, if so, what does that portend for modern “feminism”?
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