What is toxic masculinity, and is it just a man-thing? Beatriz asks these questions this week in her column, giving you some food for thought on modern feminism.
I was sitting in the canteen at university around 4pm one day; the time is relevant because that meant hardly anyone was there. There was one woman silently eating her rice at a table in one corner and two women at another table discussing their recent romantic relationships.
Their romantic relationships sadly sounded almost loveless. They were talking about how their boyfriends spoke down to them, didn’t make time for them, and didn’t go out of their way to show any affection or appreciation. The men they were dating seemed to have nothing but indignation towards them.
I had had enough of hearing their depressing stories, so I scoffed my (granted very late) lunch, put away my lunchbox, and scurried off. Unfortunately, I can’t do the same when it’s my own friends complaining about their relationships, not because I don’t care for them and want to be there for them, but because we hear it so often: why won’t my boyfriend show me any love? It makes me wonder, how hard is it to find a partner who shows you affection? Is it possible for a man to actually love a woman?
Of course, historically we know that women were always seen as property: first their fathers property and soon to be sold to be the husband’s property. The fact in our society that women first have their father’s name and post getting married take their husband’s name shows that they were always seen as their property, it’s a shame we’ll never get to experience having our own names…
Surely, there must be remnants of these gender roles and the concept of women being seen as property by men, but will they actually ever leave?
Last week, Bea told the story of her first (and second) threesome, and imparts some essential wisdom for your first time.
Read it here: How (Not) To Have Your First Threesome
Do Men Really Hate Women?
The reason I speak of this is because a few months ago I saw a swipesfordaddy post on instagram where a man was discussing his wife, now ex-wife, and their recent break-up. He seemed upset because he had only recently found out she had an actual personality and kind of liked it, however it was too late to recover their relationship. He had claimed he liked her because he saw her like he does his friends: like an actual person. The fact the men in question are considerably older than the young woman might imply that only older men view women like this.
Swipesfordaddy is a young woman on tinder who sets her age range incredibly high and shares her conversations with the men who prey on her.
However, there is another instagram account that shares messages from younger men too, it’s called beam_me_up_softboi. This account has amassed over six hundred thousand followers and over a thousand posts purely of messages sent by soft bois. A soft boi can be interpreted in many ways from boys who believe their alternative lifestyles make them superior to others to incredibly emotionally manipulative men. Their common value is a feeling of superiority to women.
Although, I’m not completely sure, I am not aware of similar accounts existing about manipulative and man-hating women. I’m sure some exist but none are as popular as these. The reason I’m writing about this is because I’ve recently heard of a lot of break-ups with toxic men.
In her introductory column, Beatriz talks about her experience of coming out, and how it was influenced by one of the most controversial series of all time: Sex and the City.
Read it here: On Queerness, Coming Out, and Sex and the City
Is Toxicity Just a Man-Thing?
Disclaimer: most of my close friends are women and most of them are also straight, so my experiences of my friends’ relationships do lie mostly in these two fields and are not representative of all relationships.
I’ve had a few friends break up with their boyfriends recently, and post-break up discussing how their boyfriends treated them. Most of it consisted of their boyfriends being jealous of their success, trying to limit their success, putting them down, and generally being very controlling. A lot of the time it sounds like there is genuinely no love in their relationship from his end, just a need for controlling her, to have power over her.
I also saw a Tiktok once that had a theory that men fell for women who they thought were ‘cool’ but as soon as their relationship was exclusive or official, the aim, be it conscious or subconscious, was to make her function only for him, to have no life of her own anymore. It’s the idea of enjoying the chase, however when the chase was over and she was ‘caught’, she ought to start behaving purely for his pleasure. I do believe it to a certain extent and believe it is very common. But. I do believe non-toxic men exist.
As I said before, most of my friends are straight women so I try to find queer representations in other forms. I read In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. She recounts her personal experience of a toxic and abusive lesbian relationship, but she intertwines her memoir with readings and theories of how lesbians and women in general are perceived as not capable of pain and of hurt. Toxicity is something we relate to men, not women. However, of course women are capable of hurt, this just means when they do inflict it, it’s not seen as bad as it is when it’s by men. This conception that women are incapable of being ‘bad people’ just enforces the idea that women are weak.
As much as I love to complain about men, I too have to learn and admit that abusive relationships are not just occurring in cis-gendered hetero relationships. And believing that abusive relationships are exclusive to straight relationships just adds to the issue of undermining the strength of women and pain they too can inflict.
How to Spot Red Flags
To finish I wanted to add some red flags we can all watch out for whilst we’re dating or already in a committed relationship regardless of your or their gender:
- They try to keep you away from your friends and family and don’t put effort into building relationships with those you love
- They’re constantly putting you down and making you feel inferior
- They’re trying to control your relationships, your actions, and your goals in life
- They avoid important subjects and don’t hold themselves accountable for their actions
- They’re not supportive of your achievements and don’t encourage your personal growth
- You become silent and accept their poor behaviour because dealing with their outbursts is too exhausting
All genders and identities are capable of inflicting pain, having red flags and being toxic. Never forget that. Also, the assumption that anyone who isn’t a man is unable to be toxic is loaded. Keep watch for red flags and happy dating everyone.