What Is Toxic Masculinity?

You may have bumped into the term toxic masculinity during your travels around the internet. It usually shows up in connection with particularly abusive male behavior, but what does it really mean? In this episode we take a closer look at the term using Biff from Back To The Future as our example.

If you’d like to see more videos tackling sociological topics related to media and manhood, hop on over to my Patreon page and help fund the Pop Culture Detective Agency.

LINKS
• How Toxic Masculinity Feeds Rape Culture
Toxic Masculinity and Murder
6 Harmful Effects Of Toxic Masculinity
• Toxic Masculinity on Geek Feminism Wikia

RECOMMENDED BOOKS
• The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks
• The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy by Allan G Johnson

FAIR USE
All multimedia clips included in this video constitute a ‘fair use’ of any copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of U.S. Copyright law, which allows for criticism, comment and scholarship. Learn more about fair use with this awesome app by New Media Rights!

Below is a full transcript of the embedded video. Read More »

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When Men Are Harassed Online

I did two things that garnered a torrent of harassment this week from angry men on the internet.

First I launched a new critical video series focusing on harmful ways masculinity is often portrayed in media. My first episode highlights the importance of open emotional vulnerability as seen on Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe.

Second, in keeping with the theme of open vulnerability, I tweeted about how I found the fighting aspects of the augmented reality game Pokemon Go a little “unsettling.” Specifically the game mechanic where users pit their cute monster friends against each other in battles. I expressed some slight discomfort that the ultimate goal was to have your Pokemon fight each other. Of course, this kind of “pet/monster” fighting is essentially the core of the franchise and has been for 20 years. I knew that expressing even mild discomfort and asking questions about the messages this combat mechanic sends would be an unpopular thing for a guy to say out loud. So I expected disagreement and some amount of pushback from fans of the game. What I got was an avalanche of hate, harassment and abuse.

Before I post examples, I think it’s important to point out how this online harassment differs from the harassment faced by women. The abuse directed at women is often of a decidedly sexual nature and is characterized by sexual objectification, sexual harassment, obsessive stalking and specific threats of intimate violence. As such the threats can be terrifying in a very personal, invasive and sustain way. I saw this first hand while monitoring harassment of the Tropes vs Women in Video Games project, where I worked as producer and co-writer on the first season.

When straight men are harassed the tone and tactics tend to be different. The harassment of men primarily focuses on emasculation. This is done by trying to associate the men being targeted with “women” or “femininity.” Accusations of weakness, of being too sensitive, and/or of being controlled by women are common, as are homophobic taunts. The not so subtle accusation is that targets are “not real men.”

In short, men insult other men by calling them women. This behavior can be merciless, vicious and harmful. It very directly contributes to a culture of hostility towards women and femininity more generally. It also works to police masculinity by shaming or threatening any man who deviates from the status quo and dares to be openly vulnerable, empathetic or sensitive.

One thing remains consistent though, men are the vast majority of the ones doing the harassing of both women and other men. I should also note that as soon as I mentioned the harassment on Twitter, it quickly increased. This is because men are supposed to “toughen up” and “take it like a man.” When we refuse to bury our feelings, we are then attacked so as to bring us “back in line.” These cultural ideas about macho manhood also mean that men often don’t receive enough emotional support (especially from other men) when they become targets.

I need to give a content warning here because what follows under the fold is particularly vile.

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Every Hug On Steven Universe Supercut

This is a supercut of every hug on Steven Universe. A total of 95 hugs from episodes 1 to 83. You can see my full video essay about emotional expression on Steven Universe here.

ABOUT THE PROJECT
The Pop Culture Detective Agency is a brand new video series that looks at media through a critical lens with an emphasis on depictions of men and masculinity in movies, television, comic books and video games. Support this video series on Patreon!

FAIR USE
All multimedia clips included in this video constitute a ‘fair use’ of any copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of U.S. Copyright law, which allows for criticism, comment and scholarship. Learn more about fair use with this awesome app by New Media Rights!

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Emotional Expression on Steven Universe

This is the first in a series of videos exploring what Steven Universe has to say about men, boys and masculinity. This episode covers representations of emotional expression, and highlights the ways in which crying, affection and fear are framed on the show.

The Pop Culture Detective Agency is a brand new video series that looks at media through a critical lens with an emphasis on depictions of men and masculinity in movies, television, comic books and video games.

Check out our Patreon page to help support this new video series!

Below is a full transcript of the embedded video.

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Announcing The Pop Culture Detective Agency!

I’m excited to announce The Pop Culture Detective Agency! This project a brand new video series that looks at media through a critical lens with an emphasis on depictions of men and masculinity in popular culture.

ABOUT THE PROJECT
This new video series focuses on deconstructing the representations of masculinity we see embedded in movies, television, comic books and video games. The messages pop culture sends to men and boys about our own manhood are consistently both limiting and harmful. The critical analysis I’ll be using is very much inspired by and rooted in feminist theory. It’s through that lens that I’ll be highlighting the ways boys and men can be harmed as a byproduct of hypermasculinity. But this project won’t only focus on the negative. I’ll also be highlighting more positive examples of manhood in media.

You can watch the first positive episode, which highlights emotional expression and masculinity on Steven Universe right now!

VIDEO DETAILS
Episodes will primarily be long-form video essays (between 10 and 30 minutes). This longer format allows me the opportunity to really delve into how our culture is impacted by media and, conversely, how our media is impacted by culture. I’ll also be producing a series of shorter supplementary videos defining commonly misunderstood terms, as well as some fun supercuts highlighting some of the media patterns I discuss in the longer video essays. There will never be ads on anything I produce. Plus all my videos will be made available for free to everyone (including educators).

FUNDING
This series is being crowdfunded on Patreon. By supporting the project you’ll be helping me keep the project going, upgrade my equipment and eventually make this project sustainable! It takes a tremendous amount of time to produce each of these video essays. At the moment I’m just one person doing all the research, writing, filming, editing, images and after effects. So every pledge of support helps me get closer to the goal of sustainability!

PROJECT GOALS
My videos will be made for everyone, but they are very much geared towards speaking to men. I really believe there is a need for media criticism that speaks directly to young men about masculinity in pop culture. With all the conflicting media messages out there, it’s not surprising that a lot of young men are confused about what it means to be a “real man.” So my hope is that this video series can open up conversations about how we, as men, can work to achieve more constructive, cooperative and empathetic forms of masculinity.

TIMELINE
I will be producing 2 to 3 videos per month. At least 1 of those will always be a long-form video essay delving into media representations. The others will likely be shorter supplementary episodes focusing on definitions or debunking myths, or they may be critical supercuts!

ABOUT ME
Hi, I’m Jonathan McIntosh. I’m a video producer and pop culture critic. I’ve been creating online videos about social and political issues for a over a decade. Over the past three years I had the honor of working as producer and co-writer on the first season of Feminist Frequency’s influential web series Tropes vs Women in Video Games. You may have also seen some of my other work, a while back I made a remix called Buffy vs Edward and then another one called Donald Duck meets Glenn Beck.

Head over to Patreon to help support this new series and to see a list of upcoming episodes.

Below is a full transcript of the embedded video.
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