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Woman Against Man: Whoever Wins, We Will Lose.

Frau gegen Mann: Wer auch immer gewinnt, wir werden verlieren.

Anyone who has already read one or two of my posts on this topic, will probably know what's about to happen.

But first things first.

I'm still not quite sure who I'm really writing this post for. Am I aiming it more at a female audience, am I appealing to male readers, or am I possibly just doing this for myself to let off a little steam?

Whoever I end up appealing to, I'll definitely feel better once I've done this.

So let's clear the air first.

What's all this bullsh¡t about «toxic masculinity»?

I've just realised, that the majority of people reading this post will probably be women – which is a shame. Because now that I think about it, I realise, that my rant ist primarily aimed at a certain type of man. After all, it was a post by a «womaniser» who misused the term «toxic masculinity» in the headline of a post on LinkedIn and thus triggered me.

I lose all respect for people who can't cope without this term in their vocabulary. Which also explains why I don't take these people seriously. I now refuse to even read anything, where the term «toxic masculinity» appears in the main title as clickbait. Which is why, I have endeavoured to refrain from doing so for this post.

And of course, some people will now accuse me of having an attitude that already betrays certain traits of toxic masculinity.

As I said, one thing at a time.

I'll give you an insight into my emotional guts in a moment.

But let's not misunderstand each other:

Of course, it's not just men who get on my nerves, but also all those women, who throw the term «toxic masculinity» around irresponsibly and carelessly.

However, as I mainly deal with women in my trainings, I do understand, where this comes from for some women. But let's get back to this idiot on LinkedIn.

Men, who talk about «toxic masculinity», without ever having stood their ground.

It's no secret that it's always the same crybabies, who pose as saviours of women for a handful of likes on social media. Like Sir Lancelot, on horseback and in immaculate white armour, they want to please and protect the princess in the castle from the toxic villain. But their little sword, which they would need to stand their ground, when it counts, has long since been lost in their hasty gallop along the way.

These are the same guys, we used to leave out of Sports lessons at school, when it came to forming teams. They were the types, that nobody wanted in their team. They would rather play outnumbered against the other team, than have this loser in their team. That wasn't because these people were fundamentally weaklings, but because they had no backbone.

Boys of this type want one thing above all else: a little affection, a lot of attention and a large portion of approval. In other words, everything they will never get from men.

Men speak a different language – especially in a pack. Men demand respect and give it to those, who earn it. Those who do not prove themselves worthy of this respect receive a motivational speech in the form of mockery and scorn instead. Anyone who has ever spent a little time in a sweat-soaked and testosterone-fuelled changing room, knows what I'm talking about.

This may sound brutal to outsiders at first, but it's not. On the contrary, it is more of a blessing for male members of a group to carry out such clarifications. Because as soon as the pecking order has been established and clarified, everyone knows their place and everything else falls into place automatically.

This is also the answer to the riddle of why men can punch each other in the face and half an hour later go out for a beer together.

And even though I said before, that we left such guys out of sports lessons, men don't really exclude others (women tend to do that) – men direct. And if you're the one who isn't respected in the group, you get allocated to the latrines. And anyone who suddenly starts ranting about «toxic masculinity» as a latrine cleaner will quickly realise, that this doesn't make an impression on real men, let alone real women.

In the old days, the Amazons used to pull such women's saviours onto a long spit, marinate them in the blazing sun for a few hours and then roast them over a campfire before feeding them to the dogs, decorated with two small eggs.

What is this really all about?

Do I believe that toxic people exist? Of course I do.

Do I believe that there are toxic men? Absolutely.

Do I believe that there are toxic women? Hell, yes!

However, the first question that everyone should ask, when confronted with the term «toxic masculinity» should be:

«What do you mean by that?»

Experience shows, that in eight out of ten cases, people are unable to give a halfway comprehensible definition, of what they themselves understand by the term without showing a certain frustration. And no matter what academic terms these people throw at you in response, in the end it always turns out to be about the same thing: behaviour.

To be more precise, a very specific behaviour that they themselves are unable to cope with. And it is much easier to condemn behaviour in general terms, than to make the effort to understand it individually.

This inability to deal with certain behaviours of the opposite sex, whether female or male, is often a reflection of our own insecurities and inability to think beyond our own ideas of gender roles.

That being said, criticising «toxic masculinity» not only sheds light on the behaviours being denounced, but also sheds light on the cultural and individual grievances within which these criticisms are voiced. But to start discussing what makes a man a man in our society, whether a man should perhaps have children, or to philosophise about what a woman is, would be somewhat overstretching the scope of this article at this point. So for now, I'll stick to the keyword «behaviour».

Because if we're primarily talking about behaviour, i.e. ways of communicating, then of course we can't talk about one without taking the other into account. We cannot talk about the foreground without analysing the background. No Ying without the Yang. No top without the bottom. No big without the small. No light without the dark. No toxic masculinity without toxic femininity.

Woman versus man: let's talk about «toxic femininity»

It seems ironic to me that the term «toxic» is used in relation to men of all people. Because according to my observations and what my female clients regularly tell me, they perceive behaviour in men, that is associated with a very direct, assertive, arrogant, demanding and loud demeanour as toxic. In other words, behaviour that is referred to in communication as vertical behaviour (asymmetrical), in which rank and territorial behaviour determine communication. In contrast, horizontal behaviour (symmetrical) predominates among women. In other words, communicative behaviour that is primarily defined by affiliation and equality.

If we now look at the respective dark sides of these two very different communication styles, we find active aggression in the verticals and passive aggression in the horizontals. It is the same human aggressive energy, but it manifests itself in two completely different ways.

Direct (active) vertical aggression is like a sword. A sword is something that you see coming towards you. It is direct. It is wielded loudly, but at least you know, where it is coming from and what you are up against. You see the attack. You know your opponent.

In contrast, indirect (passive) horizontal aggression is like a poison (toxic). You cannot see the poison because it is administered to you indirectly and covertly. With this form of aggression, you rarely or never know, who or what you are dealing with. And because you can't see the poison coming, you usually only recognise it, when it's already too late and the poison has done its damage.

Ergo, I find it a little amusing, when some women talk about «toxic masculinity», when it is mainly passive aggressive behaviour that is toxic.

Who invented it?

As is so often the case, some terms become worn out over time, if they are used for any purpose. The term «toxic masculinity» is no exception.

Men have had a crisis not just since the increase in the quota for women. Men have been dealing with themselves for a while now. The term has its roots in the context of the men's movement of the late 1980s. Especially in connection with works by authors such as Robert Bly (Iron John: A Book About Men). At the time, this men's movement focussed on the spiritual and emotional development of men, away from traditional gender roles.

The original idea behind the concept of toxic masculinity was that certain culturally shaped expectations of masculinity – such as emotional restraint, aggressiveness, dominance behaviour, etc. – can be harmful to men themselves, to women and to society as a whole. These behaviours and beliefs were considered «toxic» at the time because they can lead to isolation, psychological problems and interpersonal conflict.

That makes sense.

But in the years that followed, academic research and feminist theory in particular pimped the term a little too much, especially in the context of discussions about gender dynamics, power structures and male violence. As a result, the actual meaning of the term became increasingly alienated.

But toxic masculinity's real breakthrough to superstardom only came with the #MeToo movement, where it was used for pretty much everything to do with gender justice.

The term «toxic masculinity» has now become a welcome universal drawer, comparable to the one that everyone has in their home, into which they stuff everything, that has nowhere else to go. Everything that is perceived as difficult in connection with men and that somehow cannot be explained straight away – but nevertheless fits together suspiciously well – is put in this drawer.

It is an intellectual convenience that has led to the term quickly gaining popularity, but also losing precision. Suddenly, a variety of behaviours and attitudes, ranging from inappropriate to clearly harmful, were reduced to this one term. The result has been an intensification of discussions around masculinity and its impact on society, but more importantly, a dilution of dialogue as the specific contexts and nuances have often simply been glossed over.

In simple terms: every idiot, who can't cope with a particular male behaviour, resorts to this term and at the same time thinks they have understood and explained everything by this term – of course always in the hope of catching a bit of applause from their peers.

A short crash course in communicative toxicology

In toxicology, the science of poisons, the presence of toxins is paradoxically essential in order to develop effective antidotes.

This principle is based on the realisation, that the identification and analysis of a particular toxin is necessary, to understand its mode of action and thus find a way to neutralise or reverse these effects.

Many people do not realise what this means in practice. If you are bitten by a snake and actually want the cure, you need the venom of the same snake to make the antidote.

It is ironic, that the harmful toxin itself is absolutely necessary to enable the treatment or prevention of its own harmful effects.

But what does this have to do with communication?

Everything! But really just everything. So I repeat this sentence:

It is ironic, that the harmful toxin itself is imperative to enable the treatment or prevention of its own harmful effect.

Do you think a guy like Donald Trump is toxic? Or do you just have a problem with people like him not having the same political views as you? Or maybe even both together?

If so, keep it to yourself. It's none of my business.

But by pointing the finger at such people and labelling them with «toxic masculinity», you are not contributing to making the world a better place, nor are you making any serious effort to develop an effective antidote. In fact, you are doing exactly the opposite of what you intend. Which makes you part of the problem yourself.

Pointing the finger at such people only encourages them, as they feel confirmed in their stance by the powerless reaction of the accusers, which in turn proves from their point of view, that their behaviour is successful. So they simply continue with their behaviour. They do, what they're used to do, because it works.

Anyone who actually expects people to change their behaviour, just because they are branded with the accusation of «toxic masculinity» is either incredibly naive or is already largely blinded and clouded by their own poison.

With the logic of such expectations, there should no longer be any self-defence courses in this world, because one would have to assume, that mere words or labelling would be enough to dissuade potential attackers from their intentions.

If you really want to take serious action against unacceptable behaviour, you have to deal with what you label as «poison», in order to develop specific strategies. It is necessary to use this very poison yourself, in order to render the toxic substance harmless, either by blocking its attacks or by reversing the damage caused by the poison.

If you would like to find out more about this, you will find further articles on the subject at the end of this text. The online course addressing this issue, is currently only available in German.

I have a dream …

We take it for granted that all people are created equal. But we are not. We never have been, and we never will be. If that were the case, then as a white male with my short legs, I would have earned a regular spot with the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA a long time ago.

But hey, why should a short, white man like me want to be an NBA star, when you can dream even bigger dreams.

Because I have a dream, that one day women and men can recognise each other and understand the true meaning of their different ways of communicating and complement each other to achieve truly great things.

I have a dream, that one day, on the executive floors of this world, women and men will be able to bash each other's heads in and still share bread together as brothers and sisters.

I have a dream, that one day certain men will wake up and understand that not everyone speaks their vertical language, and that the woman at the other end of the table is not immediately incompetent or insecure just because she doesn't like to comment on every bullshit.

I have a dream, that one day certain women will wake up and understand, that not everyone speaks their horizontal language, and that the man on the other side of the table isn't an arrogant assehole, just because he has a confident demeanour.

I dream that one day, a generation of young men and women will grow up, who will always be able to adapt their communication and behaviour to the needs of the other person – for better or for worse.

I dream of men and women, who will recognise, where their own deficits are in confronting the opposite sex, where they stand in their own way and what they could achieve together, if they could consciously tackle and overcome these deficits.

It's just a dream – admittedly, a somewhat naive dream. But it is a beautiful dream. A dream worth dreaming.

Because if we leave all this poison in the hands of idiots, I'm afraid it won't end well – for anyone.

Woman against man: in the end, both sides lose, and if both lose, we all lose.



Wie man klare Grenzen zieht

und durch gezielte Konfrontation sich erfolgreich durchsetzt und kommuniziert

Mut zur KoMut zur Konfrontation


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