We’ve made plenty of progress in the area of what it means to be “masculine,” but we still have a great deal of work to do. Opinions like the one spouted by Scott Galloway in “The Most Dangerous Person in the World: A Young Man Who’s Broke and Alone”, as published on CNN.com, represent a dangerous way of thinking.
I concede he makes a few good points about toxic masculinity. Our society teaches men to be competitive, and this can extend to not “take s**t from anybody,” which, in turn, can lead to violence. However, most of Galloway’s advice to these “dangerous,” “broke,” and “alone” men is regressive. Here’s why:
Galloway attributes this “problem” to the fact that “people don’t go to church as often.” However, to attribute it to a lack of churchgoing is at best, simplistic, and at worst, harmful, particularly as the author is a self-identified atheist. In fact, our history has shown that much of the world’s violence has been perpetrated in the name of religion (i.e., the Holocaust, the Spanish Inquisition).
He then cites a decrease in college enrollment from the male side. This citation is emblematic of a systemic problem: that of a declining return on investment. As a college professor myself, I advocate for students to go to college. But not every person is suited for college; some are better off in trade schools, and people like me (those not great with their hands) need carpenters, plumbers, and electricians to do the kind of work that escapes my mechanically disinclined brain. The cost of college continues to rise, leaving many millennials in debt, as well as unable to find jobs that meet their costs of living.
Moreover, his advice at the end to make money, get strong, and have sex is misguided and offensive. I’m not going to argue that making money isn’t essential to one’s survival; you need it to pay for necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing. But it’s the desire for (egregious amounts of money that has fueled criminal acts committed by people like Bernie Madoff, Jordan Belfort, and Barry Jay Minkow, whose actions resulted in a lot of broke people, a problem Galloway mentions in his very title.
As someone who jogs, hikes, bikes, and lifts weights regularly, I agree in part with Galloway’s contention that men should become “super strong.” But to be able to “eat everybody’s lunch – or at least outrun them?” Mr. Galloway, didn’t you say earlier that we don’t have to “be ahead in every interaction?”
And finally, Galloway’s insistence that men need to have sex is indicative of the toxic masculinity problem that still occurs today. In many social circles, and in society at large, men are conditioned to hunt for sex and told that “they’re not men” if they’re not having it or at least seeking it out. Such social pressure contributes to coercion and rape. Moreover, Many men are beginning to identify as asexual and aromantic; Galloway’s comment is exclusionary and dismissive of this growing population who don’t gravitate toward sex.
Additionally, many young males’ unmet “need” for sex has resulted in the Incel movement, a hate group that’s based on a collective anger toward women for not finding them attractive. A few of their members have even perpetrated violence. Elliot Rodger went on a killing spree at the University of California at Santa Barbara because women would not sleep with him. Rhetoric such as Galloway’s may not necessarily lead all men, or even all incels to commit crimes such as assault and murder, but it can result in the types of mental health problems he references, as they can stem from low self-esteem based on not being able to have sex.
If the most dangerous person in the world is the young man who is “broke and alone,” then views like the ones written by Galloway are a direct contribution to the problems he’s citing. His advice is not doing society any favors.
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My name is Craig. I'm an educator, writer, and unapologetic singleton. When not reading, writing, or teaching, I enjoy hiking, running, watching movies, going to concerts, spending time with friends, and playing with my cat/son, Chester.