The Issue Isn't 'Toxic Masculinity,' It's the Lack of Masculinity

The Issue Isn't 'Toxic Masculinity,' It's the Lack of Masculinity
AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

It’s going to be talked about to death today, but it should be. Will Smith slapped Chris Rock across the face after he cracked a joke on stage at the Academy Awards about Jada Pinkett-Smith’s lack of hair. Was it a roast? Yeah, it was, but that’s kind of what happens at these award shows. Many jokes are made and sometimes that includes celebrities making fun of fellow celebrities.

(READ: Oscars So Fight)

In all honesty, Rock was doing these celebrities a favor. While many sit jobless after having their livelihoods destroyed by lockdown measures quite a few of them supported, it would do well for these actors to be a bit more humanized as they flaunt their fame and wealth in front of everyone during an hours-long back-patting circle. Ricky Gervais seemed to get that point, but I digress.

The moment has now kicked up a conversation on Twitter with an old feminist favorite hashtag making a return in the form of “#ToxicMasculinity.”

Looking at Smith’s violence against Rock, many are proclaiming that it was that dastardly toxic masculinity that drove Smith to violence. Of course, this will inevitably lead to people declaring that we need to have a conversation about how men in our culture are unrefined, dangerous, and more and that in order to curb this problem we need to raise our boys to be less prone to this toxic behavior.

In other words, they’ll want to kick up the arguments that were summed up by Gillette in its disastrous commercial aimed at the toxic nature of men…a commercial that lost them billions of dollars.

But what I saw on that stage from Smith wasn’t “toxic masculinity.” In fact, I didn’t see much masculinity at all. What I saw was insecurity, confusion, anger, and a total lack of self-confidence. It was the exact opposite of masculinity.

As my colleague, Bonchie, covered after the hit, it was clear that Smith is going through a very upsetting time. His wife publicly admitted to him being a cuckold during an interview that spread all over the internet. Like a beaten dog, Smith accepted her unfaithfulness with tears in his eyes. Later on, he would make excuses for her, declaring that his allowing her to have an open relationship outside of their marriage was the “highest definition of love.”

(READ: Will Smith’s Violent Outburst at the Oscars Shows a Man Broken and Emasculated)

This is not the actions of a man secure with himself, nor is this a display of masculinity.

Masculinity is many things. It’s strength, confidence, patience, and virtue. It’s capable of bringing order out of pure chaos. It’s masculinity that has kept the proverbial and literal wolves in the hills since we were in caves. Masculinity can end a war and bring peace. It’s then masculinity that keeps that peace. It brings safety and comfort to households and communities. One good man with proper masculinity on his side can make a dozen evil men think twice about their choices, and it’s masculinity that punishes them when they settle on the wrong ones.

Moreover, masculinity doesn’t feel the need to become violent because of little things because it knows that if it does, people are going to get hurt. It’s confident in its abilities and doesn’t need to resort to violence until there’s actually a need for it.

Smith’s household is in total disarray. It’s been upended both by his lack of leadership and his ability to draw lines in the sand. He’s displaying pure insecurity and allowing his unfaithful wife to dictate his actions. As you can see in the video, Smith originally thought Rock’s joke about Pinkett-Smith’s hair was funny until it was clear that she was upset by it. Instead of calmly reassuring her and deescalating the situation, Smith decided to make a display of masculinity by defending his offended wife with violence against a man who meant no harm.

But it didn’t look manly or masculine. It looked desperate. Smith looked more like a puppet on a string than his own person. The fact that he lacked masculine qualities was on full display as he attempted to make it seem like was still a man in charge and capable of right wrongs and being in control in the midst of other men taking his wife to bed.

If Smith did have actual masculinity on his side, this never would have happened, and by “never would have happened” I mean that Pinkett-Smith would have been left by Smith the moment he discovered her unfaithfulness. If Pinkett-Smith showed no regret for her actions and even declared that she would continue letting other men inside her, then Smith would have walked away, confident in the self-respect he deserved. Sure, it would have been painful and it would leave a scar, but at least Smith would have maintained some form of control over his own life and could choose to rebuild from there.

Instead, he allows other men to invade his family. His house is insecure and his life is in disarray. He displays no ability to bring order to it and his failures are written in bold for all to see.

To compensate he attempted to display some sort of control in the form of violence against a man who was trying to make a joke. Smith’s violence was due to a total lack of masculinity, not the presence of it. It wasn’t even “toxic masculinity,” a fake word make up by feminists to make even the innocent things men do out to be problematic.

Smith needs to retake control of his own life and to do that he’ll need to step away from these modern ideas about what a relationship and a modern man looks like.

(READ: Denzel Washington Brought Will Smith a Heavenly Message After He Smacked Chris Rock)

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