Ok, now we're getting somewhere and I appreciate you dialing things back. I agree that it can be hard to communicate via relay message, although I still think the traits that Jessica described were not inherently feminine traits taken to an unhealthy extreme and therefore not "toxic femininity." I see them as the insecurity that a zero-sum society breeds (which is what patriarchy is, because it's based in a dominance hierarchy). Sensitivity has nothing to do with insecurity. I'm highly sensitive and not insecure at all. Most men are pretty insecure because they are forced to live in culture that pits them against each other constantly in order to establish pecking order in the hierarchy. They pretend that they aren't, but that's just a facade. Of course, many women are insecure too because we are taught to always rank ourselves against others, rather than to cultivate our own inner being.

  • When patriarchy began about 6–9 K years ago, it brought not only stratification between men and women but in the larger society as well. For the first time, we had social castes and elites. People must know and conform to their place in the social stratification.
  • The rules of that stratification are enforced through creating fear, the threat of pain, coercion, bullying, and the ostracization of those who will not comply. Men who are not at the apex of the pyramid are also subject to this abusive behavior and are expected to accept it, although they are allowed to abuse those below them in the hierarchy.
  • Boys and men must never embody anything remotely feminine because anything female is lower down the dominance hierarchy and is, therefore, less than. For example, men who have sex with men are like women, so they deserve to be harassed and punished for not conforming to established gender norms.
  • Traits that are considered masculine like control, competitiveness, and stoicism are more desirable for everyone than traits that are considered feminine like empathy, nurturance, and cooperation.
  • Those who have historically held power maintain it through overt as well as more subtle means. For example, racial segregation laws were overt, but after their repeal, many of the same mechanisms for keeping black people in their place were still observed through custom rather than law.

Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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