Episode 23 – Toxic Masculinity

Episode Summary

In this episode we talked about toxic masculinity, what it is, some of the problems with using it, and whether it’s useful in improving ourselves and our relationships.

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All right. Hello, everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Emotional Embuffination podcast. I'm your host, David Enevoldsen, and here on Emotional Embuffination, we are training to become emotionally buff enough to overcome any conflict in life. And at the same time, we are trying to discover new levels of success and happiness and optimize all those positive, joyful feelings in life. This podcast is just one of a number of resources I have available. If you want to learn more about any of that, check out the Emotional Embuffination website, which is embuff.com. That's E-M-B-U-F-F.com. Also, when you're on the site, you can sign up for my newsletter which is has all sorts of quick weekly Emotional Embuffination tips. Okay. On today's show, I almost feel like I'm nervous to do this show just because of kind of the social implications of this particular topic. But I think it's an important one with respect to the Emotional Embuffination framework. And that is I'm going to talk about toxic masculinity. And I think that some of what I'm going to say here is going to be viewed as something negative from a lot of people. But I, I feel like it's important. You know, the idea of masculinity and toxic masculinity is relevant to feeling fulfilled and happy from either from any perspective. Whether you are interfacing with what you perceive to be toxic masculinity. Meaning you're a woman, for example, and you have a guy who is engaging in some behaviors that seem masculine and toxic to you. Like that impacts your happiness, that impacts your ability to deal with conflict, and it presents conflict at the same time if you're a guy there's this line between how do you get rid of masculine behaviors and maybe not feel as fulfilled as you might otherwise or how do you engage in masculine behaviors and avoid being toxic or deemed toxic or anything like that? It's a really popular topic out there right now, and everybody really, really hates on this idea of toxic masculinity. So what I'm going to do today is kind of go in and let's first define it, because I think that's really important. But also let's explore a little bit what we do with it once we've figured out what it is. So, let's start with the definitions here. To me, this is really tough. Now in preparation for this I spent a lot of time watching videos of people talking about toxic masculinity. And it's something I've already been hearing quite a bit of in just general public in the public sphere. And I've found that there seems to be a lot of ambiguity in terms of simply defining it. Now I did ultimately start finding some level of cohesion to what the definition was. But in a significant number of the videos and documents that I was reading online where people were talking about toxic masculinity, there just seemed to be a lot of confusion about what exactly that even means.

And very often it seemed like people were just using the idea of masculinity with toxic masculinity in an interchangeable way. And this was often even when they would expressly say and almost everybody expressly says masculinity is not the same thing as toxic masculinity. There's like healthy masculine behaviors and then there's toxic masculine behaviors. But even when people say that, they often then proceed to just describe something that is masculine and say that those are terrible things. So I think we really have to start with a definition here. And it's just it's gotten so muddled and I think that the closest anybody's really gotten from what I've heard to defining or to creating any cohesion in the definition of toxic masculinity people seem to commonly describe that there are certain behaviors that they would characterize as being toxic and masculine at the same time. One of the lists that I saw, I created a little list here based on what I was reading of behaviors, and this repeatedly came up in various contexts. So one was emotional detachment, this idea that you just kind of disconnect emotionally from people. Hyper competitiveness, like there's uber competitive, aggression, intimidation, violence, sexual objectification of women, and sexually predatory behaviors. Those last two are obviously a little bit intertwined. Now I, as is probably obvious from how I've characterized the dialogue thus far, I'm really, really struggling with the common ways we're defining it.

And the reason is in a vacuum, that sounds like a great list. You know, when we talk about things like emotional detachment and aggression and violence, like those are all things that we sort of socially say that's bad. We don't want that. You know, if you're engaging in violence, you go home as a guy and you start beating the heck out of your wife that's obviously a bad thing. That seems toxic on its face. So, sure, violence is bad, right? Sexual objectification of women, from a social perspective, we we see that as a very negative thing. Intimidation, aggression, all this stuff sounds bad, so it seems easy enough to agree to it. The problem that I run into personally in defining it that way is that every single one of these has a positive spin to it. And there are massive benefits that can come from all of those things. And indeed, I think that some of the benefits that come out of each of those things is part of what makes masculine behavior masculine behavior. Let me kind of run through some examples. Okay, so the first one on our list that we just ran through was emotional detachment. Now, before I get into these, I also want to highlight that just because we're describing these as necessarily being masculine behaviors does not intrinsically mean that only a man can do these things.

And I had a previous episode where we talked about masculine and feminine energies, and in any of these it is very easy for a woman to engage in sort of masculine behaviors or vice versa, a man to engage in feminine behaviors. My personal belief is that we have a tendency to feel more fulfilled when we are sort of living in and engaging in the things that are sort of aligned with our gender. Now, with that caveat in place, now let's talk about emotional detachment. That was the first one on this list. A lot of times emotional detachment can seem like a problem. A lot of times it's a defense mechanism. And oftentimes when it's a defense mechanism, if you're just totally emotionally disconnecting and I've had I've not only been the person emotionally disconnecting as a defense mechanism, but I've also been in relationships where someone was thoroughly, emotionally detached and that feels very negative. You know, when you're in the midst of it. But there are a lot of times where having emotional detachment can be a good thing. If you are in a terrifying situation that requires immediate action and not kind of getting stuck and frozen in your emotions, then you want to have some level of emotional detachment there. You don't want to get stuck because you're just wrapped up in emotion, you know? Imagine, for example, you just watch somebody get brutally murdered. Do you want to just stay there and stare at the dead body or do you want to be able to disconnect long enough that you can escape from the person that just murdered this other person to make sure that you are safe? You have to be able to shut down, at least for a moment there some of the crazy emotions that might be coming up after you just witness this crazy scene. Taken to an extreme, you know, think about what happens on a battlefield. We we want our soldiers who are typically exhibiting all sorts of masculine characteristics there, we want our soldiers to be able to shut their emotions down, at least in that moment, and deal with what's going on in front of them. You know, consider we don't want soldiers like seeing people coming over the ridge with rifles and saying, "Oh, man, I feel a lot of anxiety right now. Let's go back and talk about my feelings." You need them to just shut off, point the gun and fire. You can't be thinking about your emotions in times like that. And so there's a real reason to have emotional detachment. And I know that's kind of a common example when people are talking about emotions and masculine behaviors, but it's not just limited to the battlefield. These are things that in your everyday life you can run into. You know, as as you guys probably know, I'm an attorney. I worked for an attorney for quite a while.

Imagine this scenario. You are, you decide you're going to buy a car. Let's say you give $30,000, you've been saving up your money. You have $30,000 stashed away. You're going to go out and you buy a car and you find the perfect car. You see it, you sit in it, you test drive it. It is just absolutely beautiful. You talk to the owner, the owner says, yeah, let's let's work this out. They end up taking your money, you wire them the money over, and then you go over to pick up the car and they say, "No, I gave it to somebody else." And then you say, "Well, give me my $30,000 back." And they say, "No, it's mine." What do you do? Like, typically you run to the attorney, you hire the attorney to send threatening letters and you probably call the police and you do all sorts of stuff, right? Do you want an attorney in this situation to talk to the other side and then come back to you and say, "He yelled at me when I talked to him and I just need to talk through my feelings right now. And it just it really makes me upset. And I feel overwhelmed because my work, there's just so much stuff there and I just really need to process these emotions. And it's very difficult for me." I mean, I have worked as an attorney for a while now.

It's been well over a decade at this point, and, I sure as hell do not want an attorney representing me that would act like that. You know, they may have emotions, but I don't want them dumping their emotions out in a time when they're dealing with the other side or interfacing with me. And most of the people that I interface with who are clients or who are looking for attorneys do not want somebody that's just going to dump and spew their emotions all over the place. Most people want these bulldog attorneys, which can in and of itself be problematic, but they want people that seem tough, that seem emotionally resilient. And quite frankly, I've had a lot of times in my career as an attorney where I've been yelled at by people or I've had people say very upsetting things to me. And in my humble opinion, if you can't handle being yelled at, at least to a certain extent, and being able to shut down your emotional states as a reaction to that long enough to deal with the problems in front of you, then you probably have no business being an attorney. Now, all of this is dealing with a level of emotional detachment, which means that there can be a positive that comes out of emotional detachment. There's a function to it. And so if we're associating that as a masculine behavior, I think it's wrong to say that that behavior is in and of itself toxic when there's lots of situations where it's extremely relevant.

Think about hyper competitiveness. That was the next one on our list there. Now, here again, there are positives. There are, of course, negatives that can come out of hyper competitiveness when you get super competitive you can have injuries. You can get people getting hurt. You can have people getting stuffed down, their emotions hurt. Et cetera. But competitiveness serves a function. It can be extremely valuable in the marketplace. I mean, think about when people are out there trying to produce better products than other people in the marketplace. They create something better for consumers. If you have a masculine partner who's very competitive about being entrepreneurial or doing well for the family, that means he's going to go out and work hard. He's going to do things to try to be number one, to be the best, and that's going to create more resources and create a better chance that your family is going to thrive. So these are, again, positive things. Let's think about aggression. Aggression again sounds very bad, right? But what happens in a situation where, let's say your wife or your daughter, if you're a guy, is about to be attacked or raped or murdered? Don't you want a guy that has a capability of having a little aggression in a situation like that so that he can defend them? I mean, this applies to the next one, to the intimidation and the next one after that, which was violence.

This is not to say that you always want to be violent or that violence is always a good thing, but there are situations in which violence is a good thing. There are situations in which we want someone to be intimidating. And again, go back to the attorney example. Do you want an attorney that seems intimidating to the other side? They go, Oh my gosh, I don't want to deal with this person. How do I solve the problem? Or do you want somebody that's like, whatever, let's go to trial, man. I don't care. You want somebody that's going to be intimidated by the attorney so that you can get your sense of justice, right? If you have somebody dangerous in front of you, you want some level of aggression. You want some level of violence. Like all of this stuff has a place. Now, again, these things can turn toxic. They can result in you know, if you're looking at the violence in the home, that's not a good thing. But at times you want at least the capacity for someone to have aggression or violence or intimidation. Think about sexual objectification. That's another one in our list. That sounds a little harder, especially if you have a strong kind of feminist leaning. That's a little harder to justify, isn't it? But I would submit to you that there are times when sexual objectification does a lot to benefit women.

In my work as an attorney, I have during especially during the family law times, I had an opportunity to work on some divorces with people who were dancers or AKA strippers. And so I got to see their financials and I got gained a lot of insight into what a dancer makes. Some of them make absolutely ridiculous money, like insane money. I remember the first one that I saw was in I think it was like 2015 or 2016. And this woman, who was attractive, but she worked as a dancer and she would go in two, maybe three days a week and never work a full time shift. Like it was always like four hours of work and not adjusting for inflation. I'm recording this in 2023. This was back in like 2015, 2016. She was making way more than what I am currently making as an attorney. A white male attorney. And it has always struck me that consistently when I've seen dancers who are utilizing the sexual objectification of women to their benefit. They make an astronomical amount of money or at least have the potential to make an astronomical amount of money because there are guys that are sexually objectifying them and handing them enormous amounts of money. I saw women, I've seen women who have paid their way through their undergraduate degrees without any student loan debt. I have an enormous amount of student loan debt, and I don't I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever not have student loan debt because I took out an enormous amount of money to do that.

And I've talked to women who just danced their way through college and walked out with nothing. I've seen other advantages that come from kind of sexual objectification of women where they can go into places that I would get rejected from. I've talked to a receptionist I had a little while back who indicated that she repeatedly had been pulled over by the police for things that I would have been slammed on the hood and handcuffed for. And she just got a warning. You know, they're they're clear advantages that come out of sexual objectification of women. Now, again, this is not to say that it's always a good thing. But I'm also not saying that we necessarily should be this way. What I'm saying is that we are and there are positives that come out of it. Women can capitalize on this and do regularly. This is also sort of intertwined with the sexually predatory behaviors because, there are these are intertwined, right? Because the guys who are more sexually predatory are sort of almost melding this idea of aggression, violence with the sexual objectification issue. And quite frankly, here again, I've talked to a lot of women who are whether this is a good thing or not are not interested in this.

I, for example, I had a number of times in my history, my personal history, where women were complaining that I was not aggressive enough. I was not assertive enough. I had one romantic relationship where I was repeatedly asked if I had problems with my testosterone levels and I was hyper insecure. I lost some of those, a number of different relationships, at least in part, as I was explained to, because I was not aggressive enough. And I've had that before in romantic relationships repeatedly, where women were asking me to basically just be really dominant, be aggressive, like take things not necessarily that they didn't want, but at least give them the sense that they were being taken. And this seems to correlate with some of the data. There's a study from the University of Quebec that found that 64.6% of women had fantasized about being sexually dominated. Men were much lower than that. And you see things like the 50 Shades of Gray storylines where there was clearly female interest in this. This whole storyline, very popular with women for a while. And the major theme there was this BDSM idea of male domination over women. Now, we could sit there and analyze this in terms of there was obviously counter female controls that were going on within that. But there was at the root of all this, this sense of sexual aggression and predation. And so whether this is good or bad, it is in part what we are.

And that is a combination of this aggression and capacity for violence along with sexual objectification. And so we're, in essence, melding some other things that have positives in their roots. So with all of this in mind, this idea that, look, some of the time these behaviors have positives or at least rooted in things that have positives, I think it's really hard to say that the behaviors are what make something toxic masculinity. Now, from what I can tell, that's the dominant definition of toxic masculinity is it's when you run into these specific behaviors, you're being toxically masculine. I would assert that we should not be looking at the behaviors, but more the output. Like the outcome of what's going on is the situation that this behavior results in, is that something that we don't like? Is it making us and those around us miserable? If so, then I think that we're getting into a toxic realm. If it's not, if it's something that can be tempered and maybe the violence only comes out when it's absolutely necessary. That's a different story. Or if it can be channeled in some way, like maybe you're playing a reasonable amount of football or video games or something that might be stereotypically masculine. That could be a different story. But I think you need to look at the output. If I'm beating my wife, that's going to create all sorts of problems out of that behavior.

If I'm playing video games, what's the outlook output look like? Am I playing it too much? Because this could go into the hyper competitiveness. If I'm playing some online game with another person, am I wasting all of my day, every single day playing video games? Now I have an output that's going to result in me not working as much. Me not having any life outside of the video games, me ignoring my family. On the other hand, what if I just play it for an hour once every weekend? Then it's probably not that big a deal. It's probably not going to have this ripple effect into all these other things. So I would submit to you that really what we should be talking about is the output. What is the end result of the behaviors, not just the behaviors labeled in a vacuum. Okay, so now that takes us to the next level of this analysis is just I'm having a problem with just the sheer discussion of toxic masculinity. Now, there's an obvious negative connotation to the idea of toxic masculinity. It's as indicated previously, it seems to be conflated constantly with just generic masculinity. I watched a lot of videos on people being interviewed or talking about all this stuff, and almost everybody was just describing something that is a male behavior. I saw videos where people would see somebody in a gym, a guy who would lift weights and then go rah, like screaming.

And just that sense of them being aggro translated into toxic masculinity for a lot of people. Now let's question what the function of the term is, because I think this relates to something else that I've touched on in other places, and that is this idea of narcissism. So I have a chapter in the Emotional Embuffination book which is all about not calling narcissists narcissists and kind of eschewing this idea of let's label people as narcissists, because if you in essence, it doesn't result in anything positive. If I'm sitting around calling a loved one a narcissist and I'm trying to continue on a relationship with them, then really what I'm doing is saying, "Well, you're a selfish monster and nothing I'm doing is contributing to this problem. Everything that is going on in this problem is sourced in you." And it may be true, but it's that's going to do one of it's going to do several things. One is it's going to alter the way that you interface with this other person. And this is somebody you're trying to keep a relationship with. You don't want to just always be in this blamey mindset and say, "Well, if there's any problem here, it's clearly your fault because you're the narcissist." Additionally, it's going to prevent you from ever making any changes on your own, and you are probably contributing something to any problems that exist.

And that may be a function of you're just not establishing effective boundaries. It may be a problem of you're doing something unknowingly that's contributing to the problem. But if you just say, "Well, they're the narcissist, therefore I shouldn't have to do anything," then, well, you're you're never going to change anything because you've already decided you're not the issue. So generally speaking, I put the whole chapter in here about this in the book, generally speaking, labeling someone as a narcissist or whatever doesn't really do anything helpful. And this applies also to people that are not you're not trying to continue on in a relationship with. And again, you may be absolutely right. They may be a narcissist. And I think that there is some academic application to the term, which is why you still find me using it periodically. But for purposes of actual conflict resolution, identifying somebody as a narcissist is a problem. If this is someone that could be your enemy labeling them as a narcissist has the same kind of impact in that it starts to change how you behave around this other person because you've already decided that they're evil incarnate and they're selfish monsters because they're a narcissist. It also, again, takes away any ability of you to see your own contribution to the problem. I think the same thing goes with the toxic masculinity concept. Now, if we just say, well, number one, we're already conflating this idea of masculinity with toxic masculinity, that creates a problem because now we're assuming that in essence, any masculine behaviors are problematic.

Remember that list we just went through? Many of those could be traditionally associated with masculine behavior, and they have positives in certain situations. If we turn around and say, "Those are all terrible things and you're just being a toxic male." We start suppressing and putting the social pressure on suppression of things that have value in certain contexts. I don't think it does anything positive on a day to day level because you're in the same sense that you're doing this with with narcissism, you're just putting this bad label that says that person that is acting in a masculine way, in essence is a bad man and we don't like bad men. I didn't do anything to contribute to this situation. This is all on him. You start to change how you're interfacing with this person. You assume nothing you're doing is contributing to the problem, so nothing really good comes of it. And notice also, we don't really talk about toxic femininity too much. I've heard this phrase thrown around a little bit, usually in defense of the idea that toxic masculinity is something we should get rid of. I haven't heard anyone explain it the way that I am in terms of it's probably not a useful paradigm, even if it exists. And I think toxic femininity could exist too. I don't think a lot of people disagree with that, but I don't think there's much use in talking about toxic femininity either for the exact same reasons.

Most of the time. The remedy that I hear people talking about with respect to toxic masculinity is just we need to do better or we need to teach boys to do better. And I there's a couple of problems here. One is it doesn't really give you anything concrete other than let's just suppress male behavior patterns. Also, I think it ignores the intrinsic nature of males and some of the positives that are coming out of those males. I've read a lot of stories about women who were maybe single moms and trying to get rid of anything violent that their boys could be interfacing with. So no toy guns, no toy swords, nothing like that. And invariably, I've read so many stories and heard so many accounts of this, invariably, these boys find a way to turn a stick or a pencil or a lollipop or whatever into a machine gun or a sword or something. Like there is this real proclivity for boys to turn things into weapons or implements of violence of some sort, because to some extent this is hardwired into us. I know a lot of people react to that. And I'm not saying we should encourage everybody to just constantly run around and engage in violence, but there is something intrinsic in men, males, boys that that that draws us to these things about violence and combat and war, that women don't quite have the connection to that we can. And it's when we are trying to just quash that behavior, as all of these moms almost invariably have, they just want to shut that down, stifle it, stop these boys from turning things into guns. We need to teach them to be peaceful and happy and whatever. I think that the problem we run into, aside from the fact that you're trying to overcome some wiring, is that you are potentially training your boy to be super weak. And I'm telling you this from my own personal experience. So when I was growing up as a kid. I was primarily raised by my mom. And please, when I describe the story, I'm not in any way trying to blame my mom or my dad for anything that happened here. But my mom was, of course, a woman and she was not very aggressive or assertive about things. And so, she was also extremely agreeable. Very socially agreeable. Go back to the the episode we did on the Big Five Personality Aspect Scale. You can hear a little bit more about agreeableness, but essentially it's just this idea that you want to if you're high in agreeableness, you're way more likely to try to get along with people, reduce conflict, bend over backwards oftentimes to make sure that there isn't conflict, that everybody's getting along, everybody's being diplomatic.

There's nothing wrong with that. Women have a tendency, in general, statistically speaking, to be higher in agreeableness than men. So my mom was very agreeable. She was very into nonviolence. She was very into we should all get along. She was, I think, a little bit not assertive. And so I was primarily raised by my mom. My dad was around, but not a lot. And so I kind of more saw him on holidays. And so really my day to day training was with my mom. And I had a lot of messages about the ideology of cooperation and getting along and I heard messages when I was growing up, just generally, just socially about you be respectful to women. You should never like rape a woman or do anything that a woman doesn't want you to do. You should never, like even touch a woman if she doesn't want that. All of this stuff just got embedded in my head. And as time went on, I got almost obsessive with the idea that I had to be respectful of everyone. I had to be very avoidant with conflict. And it got to the point that I think translated into me being extremely weak. Now, I mentioned earlier that I had a number of romantic relationships where I was told I wasn't assertive enough, and more than once I was dumped by women who, amongst other things, were citing that I wasn't assertive, I didn't have enough self-confidence, and there was a lot of things intertwined in that.

That's not the only reason that I got dumped in those situations. But and again, I had a previous romantic relationship where I was asked repeatedly if I had enough testosterone in my body. And I had several times where I was told I needed to like be more assertive and be aggressive, like be able to grab my woman and just like kiss her or do whatever. There was this real impulse to have that kind of thing going on. Here's the thing, I think they were right. And there's a lot that changed for me when I started to alter my perspective on being male. And when I started to really I touched on this a little bit in the gender energy episode, but when I started to really indulge in this idea that I was male and I could engage in masculine behaviors, I felt way more fulfilled. And not only that, I was able to do things that I wasn't before. I was able to step into my role as an attorney and not be emotionally wrapped up in what was going on such that I could do things that required some level of authority, that I could do things that required some amount of power and strength. And this is not to say that you can't do this as a woman or anything, but there were other things, too, like just martial arts, for example.

And I've always been very into martial arts. And the more I do that, the more fulfilled I feel and has all sorts of parallels to my normal life. I don't think these are destructive behaviors in the context that they're in. And if somebody comes along and wants to physically harm my family, I would much rather be capable of engaging in a fight and not just run and hide and cry or be constantly terrified of everything that's going on going on around me. I therefore think that you're doing kind of a disservice to boys because I've gone through this transition where I had to like find my own spine because I was a weak, pathetic little thing that wanted nothing more than to hide and explore my emotions. And I was constantly upset about how unfair everything was. There is value in being masculine. It can turn toxic for sure. But acknowledging if you do, if you've stayed with me this far, acknowledging that there can be value in some of the gender behaviors and there's by the way, there's absolutely value in being female, too. And there feminine energies and feminine behavior patterns have all their own kinds of value. And I'm not in any way trying to knock those in case that anybody thought that. But that begs the question then, if we're talking about toxic masculinity and we acknowledge that certain behaviors under certain situations can create an output that is toxic from either gender, what do we do? Because we still want to be able to preclude and prevent some of these negative behaviors. I think that we should still encourage masculine behaviors because they increase your sense of fulfillment and happiness and they can help you deal with conflict in a number of situations.

So what do we do? I mean, I would assert you should indulge in some of the gender behaviors because, again, they're going to make you feel better. I think we should stop talking about toxic masculinity at all in the same sense that I think we should stop talking about narcissism. It's not a useful construct. Just deal with what are the outputs? Think about those. I can do, like I mentioned earlier, that I have done martial arts pretty much well for a significant part of my adult life, and I can do a sparring session with a friend and that might seem aggressive in in the context of the martial arts realm or just looking at the behavior itself. But I feel very positive afterward in a way that I don't think most women necessarily feel after something like that. But at a certain level, again, the competition, that hyper competitiveness can be a real negative thing. So look at the outputs, look at what's going on around you, look at how people around you are feeling. I think it's really important to occasionally stop and take note, take stock of what's going on.

You know, how are people acting like they're they're problems? Are they constantly asking you to change something? Are you feeling negative simply because it conflicts with your own gender energy? You know, like think about the girl who got upset about the guy who was just yelling after he lifted weights in the gym. There's really nothing wrong with that. I mean, he got excited about lifting weights and I heard a girl absolutely screaming in a video about how ridiculously toxic that was. And was it? I mean, I think we need to stop and ask what's what's really the output and why do I feel uncomfortable about that? And look at yourself, too. If you're in the situation of engaging in behaviors you think might be toxic masculinity, look at them and figure out if you're doing something. All of this, in my mind, is really boiling back to one key tenet of Emotional Embuffination. And I have a chapter on this in the book. It's something I preach all the time, and that is this idea of absolute responsibility. Absolute responsibility is the idea that you always make the assumption that if something is going in a way you don't like, if you're not happy with the situation, the cause of that is on you somehow. And this prompts the idea that if things are not going how you you like. Then you have the power to change it, which means that you're more likely to actually change it.

You're more likely to start engaging in behaviors that run the potential of fixing the situation. It also takes you away from blame. And this is one of the problems, I think, with both narcissism and toxic masculinity is as soon as we create that label, we start to recognize certain behavior patterns and we say, Oh, this is the whole problem here exists because you're being toxic, masculine. And if you weren't doing that, which is basically blame, then the situation would be different. I wouldn't feel uncomfortable. So rather than just saying let's let's create some labels and throw them at people, I would say step back and say, if something's wrong, it's on you no matter what it is, whether whether that's right or not, whether the other person actually is to blame or not assume that it's on you somehow. Again, sometimes that can be just as simple as establishing boundaries around someone else or getting out of a relationship that if somebody is legitimately doing something harmful and malicious to you, that means that you now have the burden to stop it, to find a way to create a boundary to protect yourself from that thing or to get away from that person in whatever manner possible. But you have to come in with this assumption that you have the power to manipulate what's going on and to control what's going on such that it will change. That really is in a nutshell where I would go with toxic masculinity and that's where I think I go within the Emotional Embuffination paradigm is to stop assuming that it's even a thing, like just get rid of the model in its entirety and it is a thing and we can talk about toxic masculinity and not be incorrect. The problem is, in my mind, the mindset shift that happens. Because once we start talking about toxic masculinity, then it turns into a discussion about blame. Because really, I'm just saying, well, you're being toxic and I don't like that. And then we run the risk of conflating it with just generic masculine behaviors, which seems like everybody's doing, and or we conflate it with behaviors that have a benefit under certain situations, and then we avoid those like the plague, and then we end up creating weak, unfulfilled men who don't know how to deal with real problems and feel insecure and unhappy and are miserable. And I don't think that that's helpful for any of us. So stop talking about toxic masculinity. This is my opinion. I'm sure many people will disagree with me. Instead, think about the outputs. Think about what's happening around you and approach the outputs with the assumption that whatever it is, it's on you. And then try to take some steps to fix the things that you don't like.

I'm going to leave it there. That's going to bring us to the end of today's show. I hope that somebody finds this useful. I feel, like I said, almost nervous about even talking about this because I feel like anything related to gender nowadays has just become a hot topic. But there it is. I'm throwing it out there. These are my thoughts on both of narcissism and toxic masculinity. I hope something here was useful to you. I hope that you can take some little nugget here and just improve your life in some manner. Male or female. Don't even I'm not talking about whatever you are in this situation. I'm just saying use these in your interactions, this analysis to figure out how to better live, to feel better, to have less conflict, to deal with conflict better. Don't forget to sign up for the newsletter on my website embuff.com. Also, remember, just keep working on this stuff. Whether you agree with me on this or not, whether you are using an entirely different paradigm or not, it doesn't matter. Just keep working on this stuff. Keep exploring, keep experimenting, keep getting better. You don't go to the gym one time and say, I'm buff forever. You keep working on it. Just like with Emotional Embuffination. At the end of the day, I want you to be emotionally strong enough to go from saying things like, "The struggle is real," to saying, "What struggle?" Thank you all for listening. I hope you have a great week. And I will see you on the next show.