My claim is actually the opposite:
Heying Male lions can be monsters, murderous and focused. Toxic, if you will. Given the opportunity, male lions will kill the kittens in a pride over which they have gained control. They commit infanticide, which brings the new mothers, freshly childless, back into estrous.
The females are quickly impregnated.
This, we can all agree, is disturbing behavior, and may make some people feel rather less pleased with lions. Given the opportunity, the vast majority of modern human males would do no such thing. Those who argue that men are inherently toxic are, ironically, making arguments that are biologically essentialist.
And they are making them badly, at that. Evolution built humans, as it did lions.
But humans have longer childhoods and greater generational overlap, share more ideas with greater complexity, and usually live in more stable social groups than do lions. In humans, evolution has given us the capacity to shape personality during development to a greater degree than in any other species.
As such, and because few human cultures would tolerate such behavior, the vast majority of men would not and could not kill babies, nor rape their grieving mothers. Being a young woman in LA means being watched—watched for deviations from the norm, for indications of future fame, for signs of weakness.
Watched simply for how one looks. I never aspired to the industry, but even just living in LA, the culture is omnipresent. Two anecdotes should suffice. Walking alone in my sun-kissed west LA neighborhood one summer, I was approached by a man looking for extras for a beach scene in a movie.
Before I had said a word, he told me where to go, how much I would be paid per day, and what would be expected of me: I told him I was going to college.
He literally looked me up and down, adopted a frown, and assured me that I did not need to go to college. Beach scenes were my future, and from there—who can say? Better beach scenes, presumably. One of my many part-time jobs in high school, along with scooping ice cream and renting out VHS tapes, was staffing high end catering events.
At indoor events, male attendees would often stop me to engage in small talk, and ask for my number. One night, though, I worked an event on the backlot of Universal Studios.
A group unaffiliated with Hollywood had booked it for a no-expenses-spared fete, and I was to do the usual, except that I would have to cover more ground. The kitchen was further away, the guests more spread out, with no walls to contain them.
Before table service, my co-workers and I made the rounds with our platters of bruschetta and cured meats. On this Hollywood backlot, though, the lack of walls proved dangerous.
A young man—older than me but younger than 30—maneuvered me away from the crowd. There were many shadows, and he stood too close. He looked at me with predatory eyes.
He backed me into a hedge, rubbed up against me. And I got away from him before it went any further. That was toxic masculinity, before the phrase existed.
Yes, toxic masculinity exists. But the use of the term has been weaponized. It is being hurled without care at every man. Those men—and far, far worse—do exist.BARBARA LAZEAR ASCHER On Compassion Barbara Lazear Ascher, born in , worked as a lawyer for two years before she became a full-time writer.
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