Jonah Mix points out that masculinity is violent by its very nature, and that it’s the people who talk about “masculinity in crisis” or “warped masculinity” who are deeply confused.
To respond to a woman’s rejection by shooting nine strangers and then yourself is to express the dictates of masculinity in their most concentrated form: Demand what you want. Use violence to take it. Destroy what you can’t have. This is the ideology of manhood. There is nothing warped, confused, or flawed about it. Nor is it a “toxic” form of something otherwise benign.
The truly toxic confusion over the meaning of masculinity is found in reformers, men who hope to replace ten thousand years of domination psychology with a “healthy masculinity” comprised of gentleness, compassion, leadership, and provision. But there is no way to mold a sex-specific psychology from basic human decency. These traits have been shown throughout history by all people, male and female both; random violence and explosive rage, on the other hand, have generally been the purview of men. There has never been a need for a word to describe the psychology of a healthy, functional adult male besides “good person.” There has, however, been a very pressing need to create a word for the qualities men need to retain their power over women.
Many of the traits that define the liberal notion of “healthy masculinity” cannot be laundered of their patriarchal roots. There is nothing healthy about the notion that men are uniquely providers, defenders, protectors, or leaders. Historically, the association of men with protection has accompanied the association of women with property, just as the male role of leader has existed on a foundational female role of follower. Even these supposedly enlightened interpretations of masculinity rely on and perpetuate a system of gendered division wherein men maintain tacit control over women. The truly progressive view, that no behaviors are more or less valuable depending on one’s genitals, has no place in the neo-romanticism of modern manhood reform.