The Daily Aztec

Letter to the editor: toxic masculinity

by Ruben Mendoza

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You read that right!

Toxic masculinity does exist!

On March 14, I received a copy of The Daily Aztec from a classmate who felt uneasy about the claims made in regard to toxic masculinity.

Initially, I laughed and questioned the article. 

However, as I read the article further, I knew that this was not a joking matter.

As I fixated on the article a bit more, I felt as if the critique on toxic masculinity derived from a place of criticism rather than actual substantiated facts.

To be transparent, toxic masculinity fits in a spectrum of behavior that affects women, men, trans and gender non-conforming individuals. 

In the article “Who’s Afraid of ‘Toxic Masculinity?” Bryant W. Sculos situates toxic masculinity succinctly. 

He states that toxic masculinity refers to a collection of norms, including beliefs and behaviors associated with masculinity, which is harmful to everyone.

In “No, ‘toxic masculinity’ does not exist” Jermelle Macleod asserts that toxic masculinity does not exist in our society. 

He argues that toxic masculinity is based on a subjective scale that contains no objective ground, used as a shaming tactic by modern feminists.

The author’s argument that toxic masculinity is a shaming tactic establishes that his assertion derives from a place of obliviousness.

As an intersectional individual — biological male, gender non-conforming, Hispanic and queer, I have experienced and dealt with my fair share of toxic masculinity in my life. 

As a child, I received beatings from family members when I acted too gay or feminine.

 As an educator, I received looks of disgust from students who felt appalled that a biological man would wear makeup and feminine clothing.

As a student, I have been taken less seriously because my thoughts and experiences did not align with eurocentric, white, heteronormative views.

Through my life experiences, I have been both literally and metaphorically abused by toxic masculinity from others. 

I have been personally attacked because my identity did not align with the cultural representations that are most prevalent in our society.

Sculos exemplifies once again how toxic masculinity fits into a spectrum that includes “hyper-competitiveness, individualistic self-sufficiency, tendency toward or glorification of violence, sexism, misogyny, rigid conceptions of sexual/gender identity and roles, heteronormativity, entitlement to (sexual) attention from women, (sexual) objectification of women.”

Toxic masculinity simply affects individuals through a range of situations, not only through a man appearing weak.

Macleod continues to say “I don’t believe in toxic masculinity or toxic femininity; but if you’re going to apply the ‘toxic’ label to men, why can’t I apply it to women? 

“The double standard is disgusting and it needs to end now.”

His assertion is once again false. 

Toxic femininity does exist.

Women of color are subjected to behavior that ignores the voices that matter in various situations, including academic, beauty and violence. 

Women of color have endured mistreatment within society and their voices have and continue to be ignored to this day.

Although I am responding to a “toxic article,” I want to be clear that I do believe that it is important to question and argue against toxic masculinity.

While I fully believe that toxic masculinity is prevalent within our society, individuals should have the freedom to question its existence. 

However, with any response, there’s a method and decorum where an individual needs to rely on concrete and supportive factual information to argue against it and not personal thoughts or assumptions.

We need to begin to build a safe and healthy conversation about our beliefs 

We need to refrain from degrading and unsubstantiated ideas on people’s lives and experiences.

Ruben Mendoza is a first-year grad student pursuing an RWS degree with a specialization in the teaching of writing.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Letter to the editor: toxic masculinity”

  1. Frank Davis on March 30th, 2019 9:16 am

    Beatings aren’t toxic masculinity, it’s abuse. You seem to lump a plethora of behaviors done by all genders as “toxic masculinity.” I know it’s the latest buzzword that has a different definition for just about everyone you ask, but stating you are gender non conforming means you choose to be different and simply write off those who counter your non conformity as toxic masculinity. Hey, be non binary, queer, whatever floats your boat. But if I choose to have a differing opinion, don’t throw the demeaning title of toxic masculinity my way as an excuse to dismiss my views.

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