Michael Glance, poster boy for toxic masculinity


This is Michael Christopher Glance. I include his name and photo so you know to scorn him if ever you meet him. This cowardly sack of shit got in a heated argument with his partner, and to teach her a lesson, intentionally shot their two year old child in the face with a shotgun. (The child survived, but is going to require massive reconstructive surgery.)

With any luck, though, you’ll never meet him, because he should be going away to prison for a very long time.

Comments

  1. kenbakermn says

    I’m generally opposed to the death penalty, but in some cases I can be talked out of it.

  2. says

    What’s the connection to toxic masculinity?

    The very idea that women and children are chattel to the man. They can do with them whatever they want and dispose of them as they see fit, in this case of the child as a way to punish the mother (killing pets as a proxy is also very common). He probably thought that just killing her would only hurt her for a short while, but killing her child would hurt her for many decades to come. It’s also why so many men start fighting for “shared” custody once a relationship ends when they didn’t change a single shitty diaper before that.

  3. Hoosier X says

    I don’t see how “toxic masculinity” and “psychopath” are exclusive categories. Quite the opposite, in fact.

  4. leerudolph says

    Cervantes@5: “Well yeah but the guy is obviously a psychopath. That’s really another category.” [I started to write this before Hoosier X’s comment @6 arrived.]

    It’s not only “another category”, it’s another kind kind of category—which is precisely why they’re not necessarily “exclusive” (as Hoosier X suggests). Psychopathy is (when being used technically, as I assume you are using it; I think I recall that you’re in a relevant clinical field) a personality disorder. “Toxic masculinity” is a repertoire of behaviors available within a given culture (I am not claiming that that’s a technical meaning, and indeed I am not aware—though maybe I ought to be—of any technical field that uses the phrase technically; I’m just interpreting the phrase as I understand it, given my own lay and professional biases). Obviously (to us, now; or at least to me), a (technical) diagnosis of any given personality disorder can only be made by examining behaviors (even if some brain scientists might want to say it could be made, 100% accurately, by a sufficiently good brain scan; just as some endocrinologists once did say something similar about hormone workups). That doesn’t mean (except maybe by an extreme behaviorist) that the disorder is the repertory of behaviors. On the contrary, in many (most? all?) contemporary human cultures—and certainly in contemporary USAn culture[s]—that repertoire is made more or less use of by a lot of men, many of whom (I am pretty sure) wouldn’t qualify as “psychopathic” in a clinical setting. (Of course every generation’s “clinical” descriptions can be, and often are, used by non-clinicians as mere vernacular, usually derogatory but sometimes commendatory.) Conversely, I believe that (even male) psychopaths can exhibit their psychopathy in ways that need have nothing drawn from the toxic masculinity repertoire.

    TL;DR: “psychopathy” and “masculinity” can appear in any of the 4 possible combinations.

  5. Allison says

    cervantes @5:

    Well yeah but the guy is obviously a psychopath.

    It’s not at all obvious. “Psychopath” has a specific meaning, and it’s not equivalent to “did a heinous crime.” Calling him a psychopath is a cop-out, a way to pretend that there’s a qualitative, innate difference between you and him, that people like you and your friends would never do anything like that, because only nut-cases do that stuff. Pretty much anyone can do what he did, given the right training — for example, the US Army specializes in training people to be capable of committing atrocities on command.

    The point of saying “toxic masculinity” is to point out that what he did is only a more extreme version of what men in this country are socialized to do: to view women (and children), i.e., “non men,” as things that exist only for the benefit of men, and that women are responsible for dealing with men’s emotions, not the men themselves. His behavior is actually quite logical, in the context of male culture; it’s the men who would balk at doing that that are being inconsistent and “illogical.” (Thank Dog!) Fortunately for most of us, that socialization is only partly successful in most cases, and most men will wimp out before going as far as he did.

    And “he was intoxicated” is also a cop-out — it’s a much too popular excuse to relieve people of responsibility for bad behavior. Alcohol doesn’t make people do awful things, it just gives them permission to do what they kinda wanted to do anyway, but didn’t dare.

  6. Allison says

    archangelospumoni @7:

    What are the chances he is a good solid small dick NRA member?

    And … in criticizing an act of toxic masculinity, a commenter exposes his (?) own toxic masculinity. The idea of using penis size as an insult is grounded in toxic masculinity.

    This isn’t intended as a slap-down. We (especially AMAB people) are marinated from birth on in toxic masculinity (in racism and misogyny as well, but that’s a different post), and detoxing from it is a long, slow, painful process that is never done.

  7. Akira MacKenzie says

    Cervantes @ 5

    I’ve found out (the hard way) that it’s best not to go around throwing psychological diagnosis. Best to wait until a professional declares Glance a “psychopath” first.

  8. F.O. says

    Calling him a psychopath is a cop-out, a way to pretend that there’s a qualitative, innate difference between you and him, that people like you and your friends would never do anything like that, because only nut-cases do that stuff. Pretty much anyone can do what he did, given the right training — for example, the US Army specializes in training people to be capable of committing atrocities on command.

    Thanks, that’s a really clear exposition.

  9. lotharloo says

    I’m sure if you ask this scum why he owns guns, he would say “To protect my family.”

  10. killyosaur says

    @Alison, The example of the US Army is actually a bad one, as even with the training, soldiers do not commit atrocities on command. There was a study (I need to deep dive to find it, just don’t have the time) that showed that even people trained to kill have a hard time doing so when it comes time to do it for real (even going so far as intentionally missing targets). That being said, a lot of what creates situations where atrocities get committed or are viewed as acceptable come from social conditioning from a very young age (and using that along with peer pressure to convince people that what they are doing is ok).

    Besides that, totally agree that using psychopath to describe someone who does something that we all agree is a terrible thing to do is a cop-out (unless he has a proper diagnosis, and even then it is still a cop-out).

  11. Chris Capoccia says

    @killyosaur
    I believe you’re talking about On Killing by Dave Grossman. It includes several historical examples, but also this quote: “The weak link between the killing potential and the killing capability of these units was the soldier. The simple fact is that when faced with a living, breathing opponent instead of a target, a significant majority of the soldiers revert to a posturing mode in which they fire over their enemy’s heads.” http://kropfpolisci.com/cognitive.grossman.pdf Very interesting book except for the last chapter about video games

  12. Mrdead Inmypocket says

    #4 Giliell
    Not saying you’re wrong, I’m going to give the toxic masculinity assertion a fair chance. I have some experience in the judicial system. A parent killing a child out of spite is not something new, we should be careful saying, broad brush, that it’s predicated on the idea “that women and children are chattel to the man”. (Though it may be in this case, specific details are not forthcoming as of yet). For instance a young mother was just convicted of drowning her daughter back in March to spite the father.

    I used that example purposely, as opposed to Andrea Yates, because it was argued that she killed her daughter to keep her away from the father because the mother was afraid for her daughter. Which gives the assertion that the situation might be due to the effects of toxic masculinity some bearing also. But for the most part I’d say it had little to do with the effects of toxic masculinity.

    I presided over one such case, probably long before many of you were born. Very tragic when the parent attempts to make it look like an accident, some get away with it and more are convicted where it was actually an accident. (Not that it was an accident in this case, it doesn’t appear that way at all).

    There is actually a term for this and as I sit here, in my dotage, it escapes me. Not to make this about me, but it’s sometimes disconcerting when you notice the gaps in your knowledge, information you were well versed in at one time. Okay, as I’m sitting here typing and nodding, which takes forever, it came to me. Filicide, both paternal and maternal. Which is little comfort as at one time I might have been able to rattle off droves of information on the subject. Welp, some days are better n others.

    Anyhoo, there is a case to be made about toxic masculinity’s involvement in filicide to be sure. But I’m not able to make the connection in this case. So I’m not altogether sure whether it was an unfounded assertion or whether I’m just not able to make the connection. Like I said, I’m not saying you’re wrong because I’m in constant doubt these days of my ability for cogent thought. Then again, even if it were an unfounded assertion who cares, it’s just some obscure blog post.

  13. Mrdead Inmypocket says

    Bad sentence structure in my above post. “was just convicted of drowning her daughter back in March to spite the father.” Should have been “was just convicted back in march of drowning her daughter to spite the father”. The former can lead to a false impression in the chain of events. Sorry.

    Actually now that I’m reading my post there are more than a few issues with sentence structure and the like. Which is why I seldom post comments. It’s pride you see, don’t like people being witness to my dotage. I’m very insecure about it. lol Oh well, still, at half capacity I’m better off than many ever we’re at the top of their game. Ironically watching a Trump speech is a real picker upper because even on my worst days I’m better off than that chump. lol

  14. richardemmanuel says

    I am against shooting children in their faces. This must mean something. Are you with me? You’re either with me or against me. What can I tack on to this?

  15. nomdeplume says

    How does someone look at this man and think, ah yes, I want to spend the rest of my life with him and have his children?

  16. richardemmanuel says

    Shock Jock drivel from a bored Professor. Are you really chasing the numbers so badly? F the kids to F the ex? A mystery? One gender only? Eat the cubs and bring her into oestrus. I mean, really. Evo psych. What is this? A man goes bananas and you’re against it. Christ! let’s have nuance.

  17. fckideologs says

    Meanwhile, 250-something people died in terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. Oddly, I don’t see this crowd decrying “toxic islamism”. Go figure!

  18. says

    nomdeplume@21 I’m not sure what you’re seeing in that picture. He looks like a zillion white guys, and no one looks particularly good in a mug shot. How someone looks isn’t a great indicator of whether they’re a giant scumbag or not.

  19. dianne says

    The line that really does it for me: “to a GoFundMe page started for the boy to help with his medical expenses.” I know, the question of why a GFM page is the preferred method for funding necessary medical care is not a novel one, but…shit.

  20. Mrdead Inmypocket says

    28 Dianne
    Sad. In lieu of a comprehensive health insurance system Americans need a GoFundMeForAll type system for those under or uninsured.

    I’ve got nothing to back this up, it may just be the algorithms that provide content to my browser, or just my bias. But it seems like the “do it yourself” medical videos posted are more often than not from the US. Which wouldn’t be surprising if it’s true.

  21. KG says

    Meanwhile, 250-something people died in terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. Oddly, I don’t see this crowd decrying “toxic islamism”. Go figure! – fckideologs@25

    And what exactly are we supposed to “go figure” from that, o person with the ludicrously inappropriate nym? What I can “go figure” from this thread is that there are plenty of people ready to deny that toxic masculinity led to this vile attempt to murder a child. Can you point to anyone denying that “toxic islamism” led to the terrorist murders in Sri Lanka? Here, or in any thread on this blog, or any freethoughtblog? Your comment really is the weakest of weak sauce whataboutery – but exactly the sort of stupid shit we know to expect of you.

  22. asteraceae says

    Yes, women can also kill people, but they do it at about 5% of the rate that men do. So no, masculinity isn’t the only variable, but it is the principle component.

    As for the terrorists attacks, we don’t have to cry “toxic Islamism” because, again, the primary indicator for terrorist violence is maleness. (You can trot out exceptions until you’re blue in the face but the numbers don’t lie.)

  23. raven says

    cosmically stupid troll fuckedupdog:

    Meanwhile, 250-something people died in terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. Oddly, I don’t see this crowd decrying “toxic islamism”. Go figure!

    OK, I’ll figure it out for you.
    You will however, have to have your Thinking Brain Service Dog explain it to you.
    Those attacks have nothing to do with the subject of this post!!!

    The subject is:
    Michael Glance, poster boy for toxic masculinity.
    It has nothing to do with Sri Lanka, Islam, or Islamic terrorism.

    No one also mentioned anything about high fructose corn syrup, global warming, the mass murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazis, xian terrorism in New Zealand killing 50, the impending collision of our galaxy with the Andromeda galaxy, cats, or the flooding in the US midwest.
    Because these are again, not the subject of this post and comment thread.

    No one mentioned how stupid you were either, until you brought the subject up with a demonstration.

  24. says

    @fckideologs

    Meanwhile, 250-something people died in terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. Oddly, I don’t see this crowd decrying “toxic islamism”. Go figure!

    Then you are hard-of-reading, because the resident FtB blogger for all things Sri Lanka is actually Mano Singham, whose family comes from Sri Lanka, much of whose family is still in Sri Lanka, and who himself emigrated from Sri Lanka after growing up there.

    If you want to read something about the Sri Lanka attacks on Pharyngula itself, you’re unlikely to see it because (I suspect) PZ, like me and like many bloggers here, don’t try to speak about things we know little about when there’s an actual expert in the house. No expert? Something going on in Peru or Korea? Sure, we might very well weigh in. But we have Mano here, already writing about the Sri Lanka attacks on FtB, with those posts showing up in the same “recent post” feed used on Pharyngula that is used everywhere else on FtB. This is, to use a technical term, WONDERFUL. I’ve read his posts on the recent situation and I’m sure many others have as well. Although I can’t be certain, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he had the 2nd highest traffic of all the blogs here.

    So why don’t you go read what’s actually written on FtB instead of insisting that such writing does not exist, contrary to all facts? You could try starting with this blog post, but maybe you should read this one as well.

    Of course, there’s tons more that Mano has written, but you probably look more intelligent just denying that it exists than you would if you actually tried to understand it.

  25. asteraceae says

    I’d also meant to point out that though MRAs will howl about the perceived use of logical fallacies against them, the tissue of their wordview is virtually woven from them. In this instance, the fallacy of the single cause. Just because women and terrorists also kill people doesn’t mean they do it for the same reasons.

    Like, when women kill their spouses, a non-trivial percentage of the time, it’s in self-defense. Among men? Not so much.

  26. lotharloo says

    @Crip Dyke:
    Hahaha, nice one! These kind of idiots don’t actually care about 250 dead people in Sri Lanka. They just want to use it to distract from topics they don’t like. I’m pretty sure this asshole will ignore Mano’s posts, because they don’t actually care.

    But there’s another thing I want to add to this:

    Meanwhile, 250-something people died in terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. Oddly, I don’t see this crowd decrying “toxic islamism”. Go figure!

    What makes you think that “toxic Islamism” is not a special case of “toxic masculinity”? For example, as someone raised in a muslim country, I was basically taught, via a story, that if anyone doubts the existence of “free will”, you just beat the shit of them until they ask you to stop, then you tell them you cannot because you don’t have free will and you continue to beat the shit out of them until they concede. It’s a very “badass masculine” solution, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure the same idea exists in the Christian world.

  27. says

    Mrdead Inmypocket

    A parent killing a child out of spite is not something new,

    Yes, parents do kill their children. Only the rates and reasons of fathers killing their children vs mothers killing their children are quite different.

    we should be careful saying, broad brush, that it’s predicated on the idea “that women and children are chattel to the man”. (Though it may be in this case, specific details are not forthcoming as of yet). For instance a young mother was just convicted of drowning her daughter back in March to spite the father.

    Congratulations, so you found a case of a mother doing something similar to this dude, just like you will be able to find a woman killing her ex out of jealousy. That doesn’t change the fact that in those specific scenarios it is usually the men doing the killing and not the women.
    Second, you do realise that “women and children being chattel to men” isn’t some feminist conspiracy theory but used to be the actual law in many places in the world (and in some places still) that was fought against by women and defended by men? Do you think that centuries to millennia of misogyny disappeared over night?

    I used that example purposely, as opposed to Andrea Yates, because it was argued that she killed her daughter to keep her away from the father because the mother was afraid for her daughter. Which gives the assertion that the situation might be due to the effects of toxic masculinity some bearing also. But for the most part I’d say it had little to do with the effects of toxic masculinity.

    And your evidence for that is? I mean, we’ve given you plenty of evidence as to how hurting children to punish women and also having multiple guns are usually good indicators for toxic masculinity, but you haven’t given one why it isn’t. Do you actually think that this man’s actions are completely unconnected to his ideas about men, women and masculinity?

    I presided over one such case, probably long before many of you were born.

    Paternalistic head patting noted. How old do you think we are? I mean, given from what you write, and how old I am, I must assume you are at least 100 years old, unless back in those days “long before I was born” they let teenagers preside over trials.
    Also, if you presided over such trials it tells us why exactly women cannot get justice in the justice system, since everybody is bound to not believe us or the plain things in front of their eyes when it comes to male violence.

  28. Mrdead Inmypocket says

    #36 Giliell

    Yes, parents do kill their children. Only the rates and reasons of fathers killing their children vs mothers killing their children are quite different.

    Vague. However in the spirit of reconciliation I’ll accept that as a true statement given the context of the conversation. Although if I’m reading it correctly, in that study you’ll see that fathers are more often responsible for killing their children after age eight, while mothers are responsible for a higher share of children killed during infancy. But since you were so vague I’m not sure if you were just commenting on overall violence. Quibbling over how to parse that information is not really pertinent to my issue with your original comment anyway. So I simply give you that.

    Here is the issue. In your comment you’re trying to establish toxic masculinity as the primary intent to commit the crime. As such:

    The very idea that women and children are chattel to the man. They can do with them whatever they want and dispose of them as they see fit, in this case of the child as a way to punish the mother (killing pets as a proxy is also very common).

    I get your motivation, it’s not misguided. But your framing is not rationally consistent with your intent. What I mean is, you don’t really seem to be trying to defend this guy in your comment but you’re giving an argument a defense lawyer might make for leniency. Which I found curious, my thoughts were that you probably don’t realize that you’re offering him a defense.

    You continued speculation to establish mens rea. But I don’t think you realize what you’re buying into (pun intended)

    He probably thought that just killing her would only hurt her for a short while, but killing her child would hurt her for many decades to come.

    Such rank speculation is problematic. (We’re getting to why. I have to take my time, mostly for my own clarity of thought if you’ll indulge me.)

    Congratulations, so you found a case of a mother doing something similar to this dude, just like you will be able to find a woman killing her ex out of jealousy.

    No, if I’m getting you right here. My point wasn’t to say “Hey look women do it too therefore toxic masculinity doesn’t exist”. The point being made, perhaps badly, was that even though toxic masculinity might be a factor to consider, it’s not a preeminent motivation for the crime. No more than it was the motivation in the case I cited. I don’t have an issue with the idea of the effects of toxic masculinity, just your portrayal of it in this instance.

    You could speculate that toxic masculinity exists and that it will certainly affect peoples actions to whatever extent, but it does not follow that therefore he did this because of toxic masculinity, as you’re asserting in your comment. To do that, precisely the way you did, warrants a warning. It’s dangerous to do that “broad brush”. (Sorry, why that is problematic is still to come. But we’re getting there.)

    Second, you do realise that “women and children being chattel to men” isn’t some feminist conspiracy theory

    Actually it is a feminist conspiracy theory. The problem with that statement is that perhaps you think conspiracies never actually happen and to think they do is always crazy. Conspiracies, as such, do happen and feminism is on very solid ground outlining that one. I get that “conspiracy theory” is today considered an aspersion. What a tragedy, being able to wave away institutional analysis with aspersions. And you’ve no problem feeding into that. But I digress.

    And your evidence for that is?

    They established mens rea in that case. Go read it. I used that as en example of the kind of defense for leniency that was made on her part. Exactly as you’ve made for Glance here.

    So here is the problem with your statement in a nutshell. If, as you posted, Glance’s primary mental element is toxic masculinity. Then the act was committed primarily as a result of norms of masculine behavior that exist in society. Then it’s only actus reus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea to a certain extent. Which in this case is an argument for leniency. Don’t mistake what I’m saying here, it’s not an argument of innocence. If the primary cause of this crime was toxic masculinity then to some extent Glance was not wholly responsible for his actions. Let me emphasize “to some extent” there. I somewhat disagree with your portrayal. Which is why I said you’re not wrong, you’re definitely misguided. To insinuate that the primary element was something to be found in society, thus beyond his control, is a trope for those trying to defend the idea that when men commit violence they are no wholly responsible for their actions. Really, I’d prefer not to give any quarter there. Now I’m not saying that’s what you were deliberately trying to do, but your statements as such point in that direction. Hence “problematic”.

    Paternalistic head patting noted.

    This is not my intent, sorry if you see it that way. Such cynicism. You’ve tried to turn my banal insight into some kind of anti-feminist critique. So maybe you feel attacked. I apologize if that’s the case. Let’s not mistake a perceived attack on you as an attack on feminism. Though again, I was not trying to attack you.

    I must assume you are at least 100 years old…

    I’ll be 96 this June, my child.(Said facetiously because of the paternalistic remark.)

    Also, if you presided over such trials it tells us why exactly women cannot get justice in the justice system

    One trial involving this subject, not plural. After some few years I was driven from my seat because of my advocacy for civil rights. It was perceived, rightly so, that cases in my court were biased in favor of minorities and women. I was not so sophisticated then, thinking that I might account for centuries of inequity. (Something I would never admit to if this weren’t an anonymous fora.) I might have done more in the long run if I had instead chosen more strategically instead of blatant bias. No regrets, one does what one can. Laying a comment like that at my feet is laughable really. How could you know. Keep fighting the good fight, but learn to know a friend from foe.

  29. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    @16: How about if he abused her out of sheer sadism, or out of a twisted sense of love where he expresses love through pain and control? That wouldn’t have anything to do with masculinity. Not even necessarily from control.

    Of course, it’s an incredibly silly question. Many categories are fuzzy: where does an ocean stop being an ocean and become a lake? But you’re pointing to the fucking Pacific and asking “Why is that an ocean?” This is such an obvious case that you couldn’t even engage with it on its own merits.

    And, of course, you also have the same problem the vast majority of pseudo-centrists and denialists do on these issues: trying to pretend that society doesn’t exist. There isn’t such a thing as “toxic femininity” because the vast majority of existing societies never told women that they were entitled to power by the sheer existence of their genitalia, that they had to express themselves in harshly competitive terms and leave all that cooperation and taking care of things to the invisible (and usually female) people. Maybe in the future that’ll change (I hope not). Of course women can be abusive. Heck, social factors can almost certainly do so. But there isn’t a direct line from power dynamics, the way society expressly (until very recently, changing only to an implicit version of the same thing that stays default unless directly exposed and challenged sort of like a perverse game of Grandmother’s Footsteps) elevated a group and suggested that they and not their opposites could be the only ones with legitimate claims to political power (and even the basics of reason: see Hegel, Aristotle, etc.) So we can’t really discuss a society-wide problem in the same way.

    Of course, there are some parallels. For example: battered women syndrome. But the true parallels are the ways that women may, as a result of a lack of power, have a unique manifestation of violence or poor behavior.

    Still, if you can find some accurate trend that actually exists in culture, you’re free to describe it.

  30. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    @35: Excellent point on “toxic Islamism” being so deeply connected to masculinity, with terrorism being a man’s game. I can’t believe I forgot to point that out.

    In fact, it’s so critical to note the sheer hypocrisy of the right-wing (and right-wing atheist) panic over Islamism. If we actually followed the statistics, we’d say that we should focus on men for profiling. That catches the terrorists, the minority gang leaders, and the violent men of the white majority. But no one suggests that. Not Harris, not the neo-Nazis. Because the goal, whether they realize it or not, isn’t rationally following a straight line from statistical differences in criminality or violence to safety, but controlling a minority they don’t like.

    Of course, no one needs to say “toxic Islamism”. Everyone already demonizes Islamism without needing to add the description. Even if we go by Reza Aslan’s approach where there are peaceful Islamist movements, basically like the non-extreme wing of the religious right in the United States, that would still be something we need to oppose, and yes by “we” a mean a global community. Even in Muslim-majority countries, there should not be religious nationalism, because religious nationalism is a bad thing. So, as always, they fuck up a fallacy. There is no argument from hypocrisy here that is viable. It is easy, and quite routine, to oppose jihadism and Islamism on the one hand and toxic masculinity on the other.

  31. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    @37: An explanation isn’t a defense. Unless you have the utterly irrational belief that people do things out of some sheer randomness or some sheer volition sans motivation (in other words, if you’re embracing a particularly irrational idea of free will), “He murdered someone for their money” is an explanation but not an excuse. It is quite possible to identify someone as infected by toxic masculinity without it being any kind of defense for them. Lots of people are exposed to toxic masculinity but do something about it, or at least don’t shoot their child as a result. I don’t even think it necessarily needs to be a mitigating factor. In fact, it could easily be a reason that the guy needs more time in jail: someone who has so deeply absorbed the idea that violence is acceptable and that others belong to them may be an outsized threat to the public.

    But yes, a defense attorney could indeed point out that there were social reasons for his motivation. So what? That’s literally true of every single cultural analysis. If we identify that people are motivated by culture (i.e. if we aren’t being lunatics), then anything cultural analysis could be used by a defense attorney. So what? All cultural analysis could be criticized that way. Obviously the point is to have a criminal justice system that can take into account that human beings don’t acquire their motives in a vacuum, while also being able to take into account special cases. If Michael had been abused himself, for example, that would be a unique defense going beyond merely being an American male who had been exposed to toxic masculinity.

    As for it not being the preeminent motivation for the crime: Buh what? Try reviewing your premises again. “If he was motivated by toxic masculinity, that would be a defense. Therefore, he wasn’t motivated by toxic masculinity”? Where was your argument? By this reasoning, cigarettes don’t cause cancer because some people can smoke it without it being caused. Try having a multivariate understanding of causes.

    Every male in a hegemonic masculinity culture is likely to be exposed to toxic masculinity. But not everyone has equal exposure. My parents, for example, came from New Age hippy environments. So while they didn’t outright teach me to a pacifist or anything, and indeed took me to karate classes, they certainly didn’t tell me that my value as a male was based on how I could be #1, beat other guys out in physical contests, etc. Yet I certainly still got that messaging from all my peers. But because my values were formed differently, I was meditating by the time I was 8, I lionized Dr. King and I became a Buddhist and peace activist when I was 16. Now, the thing is, I still have competitive impulses. I was a competitive debater, I was briefly on the football team, I love dodgeball and other competitive sports, and yes, I like to win. I also will tend to think, just by natural impulse, of social justice efforts as being battles. I think of Dr. King as fighting for his rights. But ultimately, I believe so strongly in judging actions by an ethos that emphasizes human well-being, justice, compassion, mercy, empathy, etc. that I only tolerate competition insofar as it’s not a threat to all that. I believe in people doing the best they can for what they believe in and trying to win as hard as possible, but first and foremost never doing anything that would undermine society as a whole.

    But not everyone agrees with me. Some people absorb the message that you ought to look out for #1. Some people absorb the message that your masculinity is challenged if you let anyone step up to you. Some people absorb the message (the one the alt-right spew every time they call people “cuck”) that if you’re not always pushing forward the venal, low-effort, short-term self-interest of you and your group, you’re basically the same as someone who wants your wife to cheat on you.

    Let’s look at a case that isn’t actually totally defined by toxic masculinity: Gangs. Here, motives for gang membership also include poverty and the formation of an alternative economy, group honor issues, turf defense, racism and the need to protect one’s group, etc. But toxic masculinity is a big part of it. The kind of boy that joins a gang is the kind of boy that tends to emphasize a fiercely individualistic, atomistic, competitive, violent ethos… not all that different from the alpha male CEO, the Donald Trump or Jordan Belfort, in reality. They think that if someone steps up to you, you don’t find a way of conflict resolution first and only use violence as a last resort, you defend your honor with violence. Pinker says a lot of inaccurate things and has some really poor framing, but he is right that this idea takes on a moralistic tone.

    Michael Glance clearly believed, due to a variety of personal and social factors, that the appropriate, indeed possibly moral or obligatory response, to his wife threatening his dominance or his position or his honor was to act out against their child. The family unit had to be maintained by violence. If the alpha doesn’t punish his wife and children when they violate the rules, there is no family unit.

    That could easily have been (yes, maybe we’ll find more out but this isn’t an unreasonable assessment thus far) the primary and indeed exclusive motivation. That would be toxic masculinity.

    So I just don’t think you’re reasoning very carefully.

  32. says

    Mrdead Inmypocket
    I was about to compose a reply but decided that you’re such an annoying wanker that it’s not worth my time.

    Frederic

    There isn’t such a thing as “toxic femininity”

    Actually there is. But it is usually not acted out like toxic masculinity is. It usually describes behaviour that is aimed at maintaining a relative position of power within the system of oppression. Extreme beliefs about women being care givers (where one’s own status depends on fulfilling the role of the mother) or about ideas of femininity (in its extreme by subjecting oneself to high risk cosmetic surgery) belong in that category. The usual targets are other women or the own body (just like toxic masculinity targets men that don’t follow traditional masculinity AND is often bad for men’s health like branding veggies as girlie)

  33. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    @41: Fair enough. Let me clarify what I meant, then.

    Obviously, femininity and masculinity can both have toxic manifestations. That is, they can both have ideas that may be functional or at least benign in isolation and balance (like, “Hey, if you’re going to have kids, take care of them”) that can be taken way too far (like “You’re not complete unless you’ve had kids”). And that’s also true of ethnic expression, and political parties, and all sorts of other social identities.

    But the reason we have the term “toxic masculinity” and focus on it is that there’s a specific relation where standard, possibly-healthy ideas of masculinity get perverted because of a power imbalance. Toxic masculinity is fundamentally about power, entitlement, and how that defines honor.

    Of course, I’m one of the guys who counsels against saying that “Black people can’t be racist” because it just muddies the waters beyond plain language. And you’re absolutely right to note that, in response to #16, we could easily identify a woman who, say, killed herself or hurt her children or committed some other crime due to a perverted and destructive idea of what defined her as a woman as having been affected by toxic femininity. Say, a woman who killed her children because she felt that unless she literally provided a perfect life for them that she had failed them and failed as a person, and thus faced such a sense of guilt and a threat to her very integrity as a person that murder was preferable. But I still do think it’s important to note the difference, which you correctly identify part of: toxic masculinity, because it’s about power (forcing others to conform to you, even other social systems, rather than feeling guilt over failing to fulfill one’s role in a prescribed system), leads not only to harm to oneself and to other men but to those who are below one in power terms, such as spouses and girlfriends, children, etc. So I think a part of the definition of toxicity here that breaks down in terms of the parallel is the role of power. But I was conflating toxic and hegemonic masculinity for the sake of communication, and thus missed an importance nuance.

    TL;DR: You’re right to say that toxic femininity could motivate nasty behavior. Hegemonic femininity really can’t because women don’t have that kind of power. I should have been clearer on the distinction. Thanks for the correction!

  34. vytautasjanaauskas says

    I don’t think the term “toxic masculinity” is completely meaningless. It refers to societal attitudes towards what “men should be” that some rightfully view as harmful. I don’t think that this is the case of that though. Maybe lazily slapping labels on everything is not the most sensible way to go?

  35. John Morales says

    Well, it’s not an entailment that the case at hand is due to toxic masculinity, but it sure is a very plausible inference.

    vytautasjanaauskas,

    Maybe lazily slapping labels on everything is not the most sensible way to go?

    I presume it’s intended to be illustrative, but I agree that it would be better to qualify the suggestion as speculative.

    PS

    I don’t think the term “toxic masculinity” is completely meaningless. It refers to societal attitudes towards what “men should be” that some rightfully view as harmful.

    That should be ‘It refers to societal attitudes towards what “men should be” that tend to be harmful’. Though it is also true that some rightfully view it as harmful, as you noted.

  36. Mrdead Inmypocket says

    Giliell
    Probably for the best. As is often the case with online dialog, it often times leaves a bad taste in ones mouth. Not healthy to maintain that kind of dialog when in grief.

    On that score, as is common at my age I was informed last night that I lost another friend, though we haven’t spoken in many a long year I feel this loss acutely. Damon accomplished more than I cold have ever hoped to aspire to.

    See you later Pharyngula.Don’t think it hasn’t been a little slice of heaven…

  37. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    @61: But… I’m one of those people. Those feminists who take toxic masculinity as an idea seriously. And I just gave you diagnostic criteria that would satisfy me. So thus far the only person who seems to be keeping his position unfalsifiable… is you.

    It gets worse though.

    First: this is the fallacy fallacy. Let’s say that every single leftist on the planet misused the idea every time, overapplying it. So what? That doesn’t mean that the idea is bad. People misuse math and logic too. That doesn’t make math and logic invalid. You as a person should be able to see when the idea applies. So can you be honest and see how it applies here? People of good conscience can disagree on how important various factors are but clearly this is a perfectly valid application of the concept.

    Second: by your reasoning, we can’t say that humans need air to breathe because it is so rarely unfalsified. Just because a trait is highly diffuse in a population doesn’t make it invalid or in theory unfalsifiable. Hell, by that reasoning, any theory that thus far has never seen falsification must not be trustworthy!

    Take a hypothetical person who is just a mere sadist, an equal opportunity offender who just likes pain. (For the sake of argument, I am assuming that such a person forms such a malignant personality with no macrosocial or macrocultural influence). That person may still target women in intimate settings because he can get away with it. He may rationalize his behavior to himself or others on the grounds that the bitches deserved it. In other words, toxic masculinity is almost certainly going to come up. Just like air does for breathing people. But just like air obviously exists, so too does toxic masculinity.

    When factoring in for those problems, I do not think you have a point. I can stipulate that some people misuse the idea of toxic masculinity. I hope you can too agree that some people underapply it, making excuses for what can clearly be a pattern. There is an excellent conservative article out there that concedes that toxic masculinity is a problem (they just view it as a failure of masculinity rather than an outcome of it, which I view as a gussied up No True Scotsman). But unless you can show that this is a problem that goes beyond the trivial, you’re offering nothing of substance.

  38. L. Minnik says

    @ vytautasjanaauskas

    I don’t think the term “toxic masculinity” is completely meaningless. It refers to societal attitudes towards what “men should be” that some rightfully view as harmful. I don’t think that this is the case of that though.

    I’d add that ‘toxic masculinity’ could also refer to certain expectations one can have about how a crime will be punished and how severely it will be condemned or excused by one’s peers. Exaples of this are where men can get a lesser sentence for a ‘crime of passion’ where women can’t, or when harming one’s own family carries a lesser sentence than doing the same to a stranger. If a sadist is looking for someone to harm they often also take into account the consequences of their actions so choose their victim so that the stigma/punishment can be minimized. So society’s normalizing of controllig women and punishing children can to some extent enable those who have such tendencies.

    Another issue is that one individual act or thought of one individual can never be ‘toxic masculinity’ or ‘racism’ or any other system of hierarchy/opression which requires a whole part of society to act in tandem over an extended period of time. However, individual acts that are extreme within that system can sometines act as terror attacks strengthening expectations of retribution and power differentials.

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