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MCALLISTER: Can We Talk About Toxic Femininity?

Gillette’s most recent campaign to help men “be the best they can be” focuses on bullying and sexual abuse they say stems from “toxic masculinity.” The ad has caused an uproar among conservatives because it blames all men collectively for the abuses of a few and wrongly identifies masculinity as the culprit.

I found the ad offensive for many reasons, but one is the double standard it presents by targeting masculinity as the breeding ground of these pathologies, as if women are exempt from aggressive and harmful behavior.

With a bit of satire, I tweeted this very point:

I’m clearly not equating PMSing with bullying and sexual harassment, though it has led to violence at times. I am, however, making the point that there are problems in our society caused by both sexes, which should lead us to conclude that we don’t suffer from toxic masculinity or toxic femininity, but old-fashioned human depravity.

If we’re going to stick with the toxic masculinity shtick and guilt all men into expressing a more feminized “masculinity,” we need to at least play fair and admit that women have their own issues that can be just as hurtful as men’s.

Let’s start with bullying. For starters, I don’t think some of the examples in the Gillette video are bullying, but boys just roughhousing—a good masculine behavior in the development of boys to men. But let’s admit that boys do bully. Well, so do girls. It’s so prevalent that it has it’s own name the “Mean Girl Syndrome.”

From an early age girls begin to display passive-aggressive behavior that can be just as emotionally and physically damaging, if not more so, than some of the bullying by boys.

Girls suffer at the hands of other girls in ways that often go unnoticed. Backstabbing, manipulating, gossiping, and other forms of relational aggression cause victims to suffer from high rates of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and profound loneliness and social isolation, which sometimes drive girls to suicide.

If we were consistent in our concerns about human behavior, would we not call this toxic femininity? These girls are acting according to their feminine natures with their passive-aggressiveness, emotional manipulation, and relational hostility. Are these just girls behaving badly or is there something wrong with their fundamental female nature that needs reconditioning?

What about sexual assault? Too often men are the focus of sexual assault crimes, admittedly because they commit more of them. But they are not the only predators. Women, too, “rape” men and boys.

This phenomenon has become so prevalent that it too has earned its own label—the Centers for Disease Control calls this kind of rape “being made to penetrate.” It’s “being forced to perform intercourse without one’s consent as well as either giving or receiving oral sex against one’s will.”

Additionally, if you include “forced kissing,” as the U.S. government has done to describe sexual assault, then the statistics of female sexual abuse goes up even further.

The CDC has found that men and women are being “made to penetrate” or have sex at almost the same rates. Justice Department stats show that 38 percent of victims of sexual assault are male.

A study in the JAMA Pediatrics reported that if you include “forced kissing” as many feminist groups do when citing rape statistics, 52 percent of males and 48 percent of females over age 18 were guilty of sexual assault at least once.

The CDC has also reported that in American juvenile facilities, more than 95 percent of the staff members who molested the minors at the facility were females.

When it comes to parenting, fathers are often framed as the predators, but in reality mothers are more likely to kill their children and newborns, and they account for more than half of child abusers.

As for domestic abuse, once again women are far from innocent. One study found that 63 percent of males compared to 15 percent of females had a deadly weapon used against them by their intimate partners, and 40 percent of victims of “severe, physical domestic violence are men.”

Researchers have reported in the journal Partner Abuse that women’s motives in domestic violence are about the same as men’s—“ranging from anger to coercive control.”

We also need to talk about sexualization in light of the #MeToo movement. One of the complaints by feminists is that women are the victims of masculine sexual urges because men look at women as sex objects instead of human beings. This is certainly true at times, but there’s more to the story. Women objectify themselves because there is power in a woman wielding her sexuality.

Over-sexualization in our culture is not merely male-driven. It is also female-driven—a legacy of the sexual revolution in which women unleashed their sexuality through promiscuous sex and nudity. They said it was for freedom, independence, and expression, but it was more than that. It was power.

According to an APA report on the sexualization of girls, this sex-frenzied environment in which women and girls objectify themselves—even as men objectify them—leads to all sorts of pathologies, including eating disorders, low-self-esteem, depression, and sexual development.

Should we conclude, therefore, that femininity is toxic, that we as a society have twisted a woman’s nature to be something harmful? Should there not be a campaign for women to be better in all of these areas in which they are hardly being the best they can be?

Women, like men, can be good or bad. Human beings are noble and cruel, but it isn’t their sexual nature that is the culprit. The cause is abandoning morals and values that hold destructive impulses in check and subjugating our rationality to our emotions and carnal appetites rather than the other way around.

Maybe the campaign we should all promote is “Can we all be better?” Fundamental to that is return to objectively moral worldview that promotes healthy individuals, strong relationships, and a vibrant society. To do that, however, the Left will have to admit family values are actuallly a good thing.

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