What We Can Learn from Toxic Man-Shaming

The following is a response I had to a man who came into The Men’s Group that I run on Facebook (If you want, in a Facebook message, ask me to join the group and put your email so I can add you). He came in and called the men in the group “snowflakes” and other typical toxic shaming names. One man who had just joined the group left because of it, but we talked and he came back into the group.


So, I have had a couple of private messages with the man who posted the problematic post yesterday. First, I want to say that his language was insulting and demeaning and at least one man left the group because of it, so I took action to remove him. In our private messages, he continues to be challenging to me personally and I have offered to post it all on my public timeline while tagging him. While I believe his language and approach are classic for the traditional male, there are some points worthy of discussing and he said at least a couple of useful things.

1) He raised the question of spending too much time dealing with our sorrow, self-pity and pain, and contrasts this with being more powerful and useful in society.

As I understand it, this is actually a point that contributed to the end of the men’s movement in the 90’s. Specifically, the “mythopoetic school,” involved with introspection, personal healing, accessing inner strength, was in conflict with the “activist school,” believing that men needed to be active in the outer world to bring about appropriate change. I’m not saying his comments represent the latter school.

Personally, I don’t see the conflict, and firmly believe that “as within, so without,” i.e., as men change themselves, they will bring that change to the world. That said, it is a great question regarding how we balance both approaches, or if it is necessary to do so?

2) He described some of the criticisms of the patriarchy as presented here as the “guilt mantle of “patriarchy.”

I get this point, and while guilt can be paralyzing, working through our transgressions as men, and recognizing the problems with the patriarchy, calling it out, and healing it in ourselves and our systems I see as worthwhile work. He expressed that the patriarchy is a “survival plan,” i.e., by criticizing the patriarchy we are giving up what was “built to be the strength and protector.”

I don’t agree that we have to give up the positive aspects of masculinity because we are criticizing the negative. Also, we need protection, but protection from what? Protection from other men who are disregarding others and lacking compassion for their fellow man. It is likely that many in the mythopoetic school see that humanity is caught in a warring state, and the only way out is to change the fear and dominance based paradigm, one man at a time, to change society and the world. Of course, due to actual threats, we cannot all drop the mantle of protection, but we also can participate consciously in changing it, while we are strong and protect.

3) And I agree: “There’s nothing wrong with being powerful…Men’s ‘healing’ should take place in the transition from adolescence to manhood. Shit happened when you had no control and that sucks and you learn to discern the pattern as previously described (insecurity vs. evil).”

He suggests: “It’s pretty fucking simple,” which I certainly disagree with, and don’t know a psychologist who would agree with this.

4) He suggests that “there’s nothing wrong with shrugging off shit people do to you.”

My response is that there is a big difference between healing and shrugging things off, and that shrugging off childhood trauma and emotional disconnection, without actually healing, becoming whole (the same root as heal), on an emotional and even physical level, contributes to warring culture, abusiveness, lack of intimacy, poor emotional control, unconscious fears of deficit, etc… These then manifest in all kinds of negative ways in society.

5) He then defines vulnerability as the “quality of being easily hurt or attacked,” and suggests that we are “celebrating” that. Harkening back to “3)” above, he says, “Yeah, we’ve all been hurt, so fucking what? Do you want to be more vulnerable? Why?” I sent him an article on what is meant by psychological vulnerability, and I’ve posted it below. I can only be patient that he didn’t understand the psychological meaning of vulnerability, and to his credit, look what he said next:

6) To his credit he said, “And that article about ‘vulnerability’ is not the traditional (dictionary) definition of vulnerability, that is semantics confusing the issue. What they are describing [in the article] is warrior, unfearing, knowing your weakness and how to protect/work with it. This is strength, this is willingness to know your personality and accept it. It’s knowing you didn’t create this personality, it’s what life handed you and now what are you going to do with it.”

I really like that! I can see here that he at least understands the actual courage, difficulty and warrior nature of really getting to “know thyself” and even more, to heal and take responsibility.

7) He said something else I really like, “It’s not ‘suffering,’ it’s being a man, something to feel in the core of your being, it’s destiny. I do not “suffer” being a man, I live in gratitude for the experiences I’ve had.”

I have already shared this with him.

All in One Love


Leave a Reply 0 comments

Leave a Reply: