Recently, someone asked me my opinion about the recent murders of two female police officers.  Apparently, they thought since I was a retired cop I could shed some insight. Immediately after I responded, they replied with “you have toxic masculinity.”

I Had Never Heard The Term “Toxic Masculinity” Prior To Last Year

The question they asked was if I had more concern about the safety of female law enforcement officers than their male counterparts?

My answer was this, “I always worried about my physical safety first, then the next priority was the other officers. And yes, I did have more concern for the safety of our female officers.”

Before I could explain further, they lit into me that I was toxically masculine, sexist and whatever other “ists” they could quickly come up with. They concluded by saying, that they could tell by the way I looked and the sound of my voice that I was toxically masculine and this just proved their suspicions.

What I didn’t get to finish saying before their accusations, was that I’ve always worried about the safety of our female officers, not because of their lack of ability but because of the fact that we were extremely outnumbered. And quite often predatory violent criminals would view their gender as a sign of weakness. When in all actuality our female officers were anything but weak.

Toxic Masculinity, That’s A New One For Me

Their claim of “toxic masculinity” got me to thinking. I’ve heard from many people in the past that my voice, size and physical attributes made people think that I wasn’t very approachable. I have a very deep voice, I’ve spent many years over the past 4 decades working out in the gym.  And believe it or not, even after being retired all these years, I’ve been told that I still carry myself like a police officer, whatever that might be.

I really don’t understand the term “toxic masculinity” and what it means to them, I’m just being me.

What Is Toxic Masculinity?

According to Wikipedia, Terry Kupers defines toxic masculinity as “the constellation of socially regressive male traits that serve to foster domination, the devaluation of women, homophobia and wanton violence.”

To be totally honest, I am the product of a long line of very strong independent women and proud of it.

My Father did a career in the U.S. Navy and for much of our childhood he was either out to sea or on deployment. Our mother took on most of the responsibility of the household tasks, working a part time job, volunteering at church and school, plus raising me and my four sisters. Our mother is the epitome of a strong, self-reliant independent and outspoken woman. She raised all of us, including my four sisters to be like her.  Not only did my mother help shape the man that I am today, so did my four sisters and for that I am very grateful.

My grandmothers set the standard of courage and determination for all of us. Back in an era when women were supposed to be subservient or take a back seat to men, they were quite the opposite.

One grandmother immigrated to the United States from Ireland at the age of 16, with only the money in her pocket and a suitcase of clothes. Her name was Bridget and by all accounts from my mother, she was a force to be reckoned with. Sadly, she died when my mother was young.  My mother being the oldest of the children in her family, worked a part time job while in school and alongside her father helped raise her younger siblings.

My other grandmother, Genevieve, was left a single mother, after the early and unexpected death of our grandfather. She raised my father and aunt, with little assistance, if there was any at all from the government. I have childhood memories of her as being an unstoppable force, regardless of what she encountered.

toxic masculinity

Throughout school I was taught primarily by women about 40% of which were nuns. There are plenty of stories about the strength, fortitude and toughness of Catholic nuns in the 1960s and 70s, probably enough to fill a couple novels. These powerful women that were my teachers were a huge influence on the man that I am today.

My first wife was a trauma emergency room nurse in one of the busiest hospitals in Baltimore. Plus, she was married to me during the last half of my career in the Baltimore Police Department. I pity the person that tells her or her sisters that they can’t do something.

Our two adult daughters have been raised to be kind, courteous to everyone, but to never take or accept any kind of bad behavior from anyone. To paraphrase, they don’t take s__ from anyone and were raised to never be dependent on someone else for their welfare.

Last, but certainly not the least is my wife of almost 20 years. This powerful and strong woman has managed to perform what many would consider an impossible task, she smooths over my rough spots caused by so much violence in my police career.  She is someone that I depend on to help keep me living a happy life.  She is another perfect example of a self-reliant, independent, free thinking woman. We have separate, but over-lapping lives and I am only there to protect her, when she can’t take care of it herself, which I have never seen before and doubt that she will ever need my help in that regards, but I’m here if needed.

In closing, I don’t know what their definition of “toxic masculinity” is but I do know that I am the product of four generations of very strong women. I have been molded and shaped to be the man that I am today, due in large part to these women. And for that I am grateful. It is the opinions of all the great women in my life and only theirs that matter to me.

According to Tolerance.org, ““Toxic masculinity” is tricky. It’s a phrase that—misunderstood—can seem wildly insulting, even bigoted.”

As for the person that accused me of having “toxic masculinity,” I have one thing to say; “Your judgementalism, prejudice and gender bias is on full display.”