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Runaway Supernova @GwenBenaway
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the thing about toxic masculinity is that very few resources actually exist to help men (and women/nb) unlearn patterns of behavior
on one of our breaks, my ex read a bunch of articles about toxic masculinity and abusive relationships
it got him to "I think I'm abusive and I abused you" but not to actually stopping those behaviors, mostly because he didn't want to.
I remember him saying to me "I read a bunch of those articles but there didn't seem to be any space for me to have feelings or need space from stuff"
what I think he meant is that he cared more about feeling comfortable than he did about hurting me
what he needed to learn was not just that he was abusive or had toxic masculinity but how to emotionally regulate himself enough to care for me and not use abusive behavior to feel secure
after a super abusive weekend, him and I were processing it and I said that I needed him to care for me bc I was deeply hurt by his actions but he said he needed to take care of himself first.
as a woman, my instinct was to care him bc I was scared he would hurt me (emotionally or physically) but as a man, his instinct was to only care for himself bc he was scared of losing emotional control/being "hurt"
so really we need resources that talk about how to negotiate that dynamic for both parties but also we need men to accept discomfort/vulnerability as ok vs a threat to their masculinity
Since pol are engaging this, I should point out that I wrote a long essay dealing with our relationship:…
What I'm really saying here is that he didn't know how to prioritize how his female partners felt/experienced harm over his own sense of security/self image and that was a choice on his part.
I spent two years talking through this with him as did my girlfriend (he dated us both concurrently) and was given many options to discuss/learn/grow around his toxic masculinity
more critically, he raped us (and at least one other woman we know of) and refused any form of accountability because he felt like it was too much "emotional labour" on his part.
Which is how toxic masculinity functions to allow intimate violence-I have no doubt that he loved us-but he was unable to hear or recognize our hurt because it would mean facing his actions.
Facing that he was capable of harming women and had harmed women meant that he would have stop doing it-and he wasn't willing to surrender the privileges of toxic masculinity.
It's not just that men learn toxic masculinity and find it hard to unlearn those patterns but that there is a huge payoff to those toxic masculinities which they don't want to surrender.
Because if they did surrender the power of toxic masculinity, they would become equals to their female partners and that scares the f*ck out of them, ie he didn't want to be as vulnerable to us as we were to him.
So while we need resources around toxic masculinity, we also need to recognize that it has benefits for those who participate in it (both men and women) and that surrendering those benefits is a required first step.
I am frustrated at how much sympathy is extended to men who leverage toxic masculinities because he is still given far more empathy and care than me (or his other victims) are.
The work requires us to care about men who exist inside toxic masculinity and develop resources to support them in unlearning, but I'm not doing that work because I want to.
I'm doing that work because I don't have a choice. He did have a choice and he made it-to not unlearn or surrender privilege to do this work because he doesn't think a woman's pain is worth as much as his.
Fundamentally, toxic masculinities prevent men from extending sufficent empathy towards women to allow for emotional vulnerability which could facilitate learning and genuine love.
So everyone is trapped in a dynamic which harms each party but in differing scales-and I'll say it-forces women to suffer greatly because of men's inability to tolerate "threats" to their emotional and bodily autonomy.
Threats which we, as women, tolerate daily in order to simply leave our houses and engage in the world at all (actually we get threatened in every platform, public and private).
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