It’s a fair question, Alan, and a topic that I haven’t really looked into. I’d have to say, at least at face value, it looks like a phrase that was coined to try and create some sort of false equivalence. There’s no competition for victimhood, whether male, female or other. I see all of us as equal victims of toxic masculinity, regarding the way it plays out in American culture.
That said, I also acknowledge that any person can be considered ‘toxic.’ I’ve certainly had plenty of toxic females in my life. They use measures like passive-aggressiveness, manipulation, gaslighting, verbal abuse, etc. However, this to me falls more under the category of being a horrible person, or being an abusive person (maybe even a sociopath). It’s very personal, whereas toxic masculinity is less about the individual, and more about the role/expectations society puts on them.
Also, I think we have to look at all of this within the context of race. White men are the only ones who can ‘benefit’ off of a toxic masculine culture (as long as they conform), but black men cannot. Neither can women, however, white women can be complicit in furthering the toxic masculine ideology. Which all goes back to systemic racism and the historical positions of white men in power that were built into the fabric of our society. I wrote a piece more in-depth on systemic racism here.
Would love to read your commentary on what you see as ‘toxic femininity.’ Thanks for reading and responding.