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On Being Uncomfortable with “Toxic Masculinity” I: Ethics

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While I am aware of the nuances of the phrase “toxic masculinity”, I am somewhat uncomfortable with the concept. At this point, some might believe that my discomfort is because I am a man and thus feel threatened by any questioning of my male privilege. However, this is not the case—I can distinguish between criticisms of bad behavior by males and general attacks on males simply for being male. My lack of comfort with the concept stems from two main sources. The first is my approach to ethics and the second arises from pragmatic considerations. I will look at the first in this essay and the second in the essay that follows. While this oversimplifies things considerably, I approach ethics in terms of universal principles. One implication of this approach is that I hold that if something is wrong to do, then it is wrong for anyone to do. I am, of course, aware of the principle of relevant difference: that a difference in treatment or application of a principle (and so on) can be justified by there being a difference that warrants the variation in the treatment or application. For example, some argue that while it is wrong for members of one ethnicity to “put on the face” of another ethnicity, there are exceptions. One illustration is that is acceptable for Michael Che to “go undercover” as a white female liberal, but the idea of Colin Jost going undercover as a black girl is utterly unacceptable. The moral justification for this rests on the relevant differences between a black man putting on “white face” and a white man putting on “black face.” These differences are connected to the history of racism and power differences. Naturally, people do disagree about whether these differences are truly relevant, but a case can certainly be made that they are. In such cases of relevant differences between ethnicities, it makes sense to reference ethnicity when discussing ethics—after all, there would thus be a difference in the ethics. The same sort of reasoning can be. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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