What these people, many of whom who likely view themselves as “progressives,” don’t seem to realize is that their sexist mockery draws from the same toxic well poisoning the minds of people who carry a semi-automatic to buy overpriced coffee.
Instead of reflexive jeering, we should be working on an antidote to this poison, directly addressing the causes of toxic masculinity overload and ways to drain it from our society.
The first step is to acknowledge that a fear of rejection and a need for acceptance—by social groups, romantic interests, people in power—is the main ingredient. Toting a huge gun or indulging in knee-jerk mockery of penis size all reflect this fear in different ways. A man carrying a ballistic weapon openly in a coffee shop isn’t doing that because he’s afraid of the people in the store. He’s doing it to claim bragging rights for his in-group, the people he expects will backslap him and say “bro” approvingly when he describes his adventure. Positive responses that pour in from like-minded strangers on social media, if someone posts about his antics, are even better. The negative responses? Those just reinforce his affiliation with the group that approves.