Letters: A response to ‘toxic masculinity’

Guest Author

Editor’s Note: The views expressed in the following column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent the views of the Collegian or its editorial board.

Dear Collegian,

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Collegian columnist Taylor Tougaw has knocked it out of the park with another uninformed argument. Opening with the claim that “[Michelle Fredrickson] is not a man, yet claims to be aware of what it is that men are feeling,” he then proceeds to speak on behalf of all men — well, that is, except the men that are “skinny-jean wearing tea-drinkers.”

The author claims that masculinity contributes to the development of a “tough mind” and determination, backing this up with a personal anecdote about his experience. Well, I’d like to counter with a personal anecdote from my life where I was unwelcome in nearly all of the sporting activities I participated in. This doesn’t come from the lack of a competitive spirit, I am fiercely competitive when given the chance, rather it comes from an admittedly lacking natural physical ability. Of course nobody is going to pick up a football and instantly be an all star quarterback, that takes practice. But commonly, the hyper-competitive nature of many sporting organizations deters entry level participants. At that point, there is more value in spending time pursuing and mastering other interests.

Now, it would be easy to twist that point into being, as the author puts it, “too scared or lazy to work [towards those goals].” But it isn’t a matter of being afraid of hard work, rather it is about the economy of time. If I can see that putting effort into an activity isn’t going to be worthwhile, I would rather spend my time on other things. Working hard isn’t exclusive to sports and having an intense drive to do something is not contingent on the traditional definitions of masculinity. I haven’t pursued and achieved academic excellence without hard work and determination and I would be insulted to be called lazy in regards to the efforts that matter to me. It’s just that sports aren’t an effort that matter to me.

If sporting teams and clubs want to bring in a wider range of people to participate, then many of them need to work on how to maintain their competitive nature without alienating newcomers. This isn’t necessarily an easy feat, but there are organizations that have done it. If this is not the goal, however, then it should be explicitly communicated. That kind of exclusivity isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it is properly expressed upfront. However, it is disingenuous to claim that such an attitude does not perpetuate a system which is grossly detrimental to society.

As a side point, I’d also like to inquire exactly what the author means when he claims that in America, “men are no longer men.” That’s an interesting stance to take when one is arguing against the concept of toxic masculinity, because if anything it is only perpetuating it. He later goes on to write that “only boys who drink tea and wear skinny jeans will get offended by that,” which is of course a great way to instantly dismiss any counterarguments.

-Dalton Meyer

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