There was the classmate of mine who found it off-putting when a man expressed any feelings other than career-focused drive and lust and ended up dating gruff clod after gruff clod.
Women who uphold such toxic standards are not evil; they are merely misguided products of a sexist environment, and they do not deserve any of the sexism they personally receive, ever, regardless of their own behavior.
However, our current cultural examination of toxic gender roles is too focused on blaming men and masculinity for a variety of ills that are actually caused by the gender binary and our strict adherence to it.
Focusing only on the harm done by men—and the insecurities harbored by men—ignores the broader, systematic nature of the beast. It was, and is, inflexible gender roles for men and women alike.
illustrate that, look at a much less-inspected form of gender toxicity: toxic femininity.
We look to the dude in the theater who cannot seem to sit without an invisible yardstick between his knees as though he were the one who invented dick-and-balls-based insecurity. He just learned it, took it as gospel, carried it forward from his knee to your thigh, jammed tight in your seat.
And while I can’t blame you for being mad at that guy, you probably learned and internalized some of the same toxicity masculinity is not some annoying quality that dudes have.
In mainstream conversations about it, we often act as if the singular man who refuses to buy berry-scented shampoo is toxic—as if he alone created millennia of rigid, prescribed male roles of toughness and disdain for the finer, softer things in life.
We observe the adult man who cannot cry and judge him as repressed rather than feel compassion that he was instructed to suppress his emotions for years.
The primary victims of sexism are often converted, through years of abuse, into foot soldiers for its cause.