Explaining This Culture to Boomers: Toxic Masculinity

The following is a one-act play inspired by a number of real conversations over time.

SETTING: A gun range. A forty-something woman struggles to hand load the magazine of a Glock 9. An older male shakes his head and hands her a mag loader.


RETIRED COP: Lord, your hands are more arthritic than mine.

KJ: It’s all the texting.

RETIRED COP: Pah. Texting. The scourge of humanity.

KJ: Oh, no. That scourge has been replaced by you, the Toxic Male.

RETIRED COP: I’m a what now?

KJ: Remember when I wrote a little story for RedState based a bit on something you and the girls said to me about gender?

RETIRED COP: Yes. This is why being friends with writers is dangerous.

KJ: You’ll just have to remember to always be nice to me. Anyhow, apparently some readers think you are a Toxic Male.

RETIRED COP: Look, I’ve never done any drug harder than tequila and I only eat kosher dogs.

KJ: Hardy har. A toxic male is someone who exhibits stereotypical masculinity.

RETIRED COP: Stereotypical masculinity? (He unloads a clip into the ten spot of a target ten yards out.)

KJ: Yeah, like calling effeminate men girls and wanting sandwiches and stuff.

RETIRED COP: (removing ear protection for a moment) Did I just hear you correctly?

KJ: I’m sure you did.

ALL secure their ear protection while KJ’s shots all pull higher than the chest.

RETIRED COP: Your grip blows today.

KJ: My hands are kinda sore.

RETIRED COP: I’ll load for you. So, am I accurately interpreting the term “toxic male” to mean normal guy behavior?

KJ: Thanks. Well, there are a lot of young people, and even people my age, who think that normal guy behavior isn’t normal at all. And is instead culturally prescribed by outmoded codes of conduct instilled during the more brutal eras of human history.


RETIRED COP: You’re in America now. Speak English.

KJ: Like that! That behavior right there. Neanderthal.

RETIRED COP: You laughed.

KJ: Because it was funny. But people who think you’re a toxic male would say “That’s not funny!”

RETIRED COP: Oh, I get it. They have no sense of humor!

KJ: Well…

RETIRED COP: Dad jokes are humor.

KJ: No.

RETIRED COP: What was toxic about my gender fluid comments?

KJ: Apparently, everything. You didn’t show sensitivity to people different than you, you ascribed femininity to someone who occasionally chooses to identify as female…

RETIRED COP: Do you hear yourself?

KJ: The list isn’t done. AND you sexualized the Burly Girl who ate a lot of McDonald’s.

RETIRED COP: Oh come on. Now you’re just making stuff up.

KJ: You can’t make this stuff up.

RETIRED COP: (shaking head) I’m insensitive to people different than me. Do you know how many times I’d walk into some place and a bunch of punks were harassing a tranny? I never judged the tranny. She was always a citizen I was called to protect. Or he. Whatever.

KJ: See, we’re gonna get more letters. You can’t call transsexuals or transgendered people trannies.

RETIRED COP: Uh, this one particular tranny I used to have to rescue a lot called herself a tranny.

KJ: Yeah, that’s not okay anymore now, I guess. Like, she can call herself one, but you can’t.

RETIRED COP: How about I make a rule that I call myself a toxic male but nobody else can?

KJ: Oppressors aren’t allowed to make the rules.


RETIRED COP: I’m an oppressor now?

KJ: Oh, yes. The worst.

RETIRED COP: But…I’m not allowed to make the rules.

KJ: That’s right.

RETIRED COP: Do you hear yourself?

KJ: Hey, don’t shoot the messenger.

RETIRED COP: How about I buy the messenger tacos and we talk about sane people stuff. What do you say, girly girl?

KJ: I say hooray, but the culture says that you just assumed my gender and stripped me of my financial agency.

RETIRED COP: Is there any place left in the world where people can just be who they are and not agonize over it or beat other people over the head with it?

KJ: I don’t know. Probably Africa, unless you’re gay.

RETIRED COP: And that place has a lot of snakes. Are you sure it’s not in Tahiti?

KJ: I claim cultural ignorance about Tahiti, which is a humbling thing for someone who minored in anthropology to say.

RETIRED COP: I feel like a toxically male comment might be needed here.

KJ: I’ve already imagined it in my head. It was so scathing that you totally owe me tacos now, and I have retained my financial agency.

And scene.


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