We don’t “hurt our boys” by labelling certain behavior “toxic masculinity”. We hurt our boys when we teach them that being a man means suppressing your emotions and treating women as an inferior species, to be dominated and controlled. And toxic masculinity doesn’t just hurt men, it kills them. In America, for example, men are 3.5 times more likely to die from suicide than women – a phenomenon many experts attribute, in part, to the fact that men are told they shouldn’t express emotion or admit that they feel vulnerable, and therefore are less likely to seek professional help.
It’s also well established that toxic masculinity kills women. Women are far more likely than men to die at the hands of their partner, to cite just one example. As a 2018 United Nations global study on homicide notes, “Intimate partner violence against women and girls is rooted in widely-accepted gender norms about men’s authority …and men’s use of violence to exert control over women. Research shows that men and boys who adhere to rigid views of gender roles and masculinity … are more likely to use violence against a partner.”
Streep is right that women can also be “pretty fucking toxic”. But, again, she misses the point completely; the issue isn’t individual women but rigid social norms associated with femininity.