Manliness is more than aggression & athletics

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When individuals refuse to relinquish certain traditional ideas of manliness, they prop up the toxic masculinity that hurts men. 

According to Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente, men are biologically predisposed to be aggressive, sports-loving, and anti-affectionate. They alone are leaders with courage and endurance. And yet, in modern society, any man displaying traditional masculinity is treated like a “defective girl.”

Wente writes her opinion piece to dismantle a recent publication from the American Psychological Association (APA), which released guidelines to help psychologists understand how to address male gendered experiences when practicing with men and boys.

However, Wente fails to distinguish between the harms of masculine norms and men existing, contributing to toxic masculinity. She argues women’s economic success has led to “trouble” for boys and men as the modern workforce evolves and leaves them behind.

Wage gaps and wide-ranging sexism persist, proving that Wente’s claims aren’t only incorrect—they’re actively problematic.

Every time Wente reaffirms the importance of traditional masculinity, she discounts men who don’t subscribe to those norms. By projecting her own biases, she does men a disservice by generalizing them.

The columnist argues that if a man isn’t dominant or aggressive, he’s woman-like. She claims the world must carve out more space for men who refuse to accept varying types of manliness or adapt to our changing society.

In doing this, Wente dismisses years of APA research—despite not being a psychologist—on a national platform.

In a publication like The Globe, every word matters. While opinion pieces exist to shed light on various viewpoints, several statements in Wente’s article are incorrect. Empirically, the modern economy isn’t harmful to all men, nor is manliness the same as toxic masculinity. When no editors point out or correct these argumentative flaws, the legitimacy of the outlet as a whole suffers.

The Globe’s publication of this piece reinforces the toxic masculinity norms which persistently damage men. Wente speaks to the benefits of male power as if it has no opponent. She ignores that, for dominance and aggression to be valued, someone has to be dominated and aggressed.

Masculinity, in its “boys will be boys” glory, becomes toxic when it makes outsiders subordinate.

Wente’s allowed an opinion about gender norms. But when that opinion is given a national platform without being regulated for accuracy, it spreads false perceptions about where men belong in society.

—Journal Editorial Board

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