Character, Not Chromosomes, Is the Culprit

Like English cuisine, French fortitude, and Italian military, the term toxic masculinity is an oxymoron.  If it is toxic, it’s not masculine and if it’s masculine it isn’t toxic.  Okay, I was joking about those old national slurs (I apologize, you social Stalinists, yes, I know it wasn’t funny!) But think of the phrase ‘cowering courage’.  Again, if you cower you’re not courageous, and if you’re courageous you don’t cower.  If you’re masculine, you’re not toxic; no, you’re a colossal asset to your family, your community, and your country.

As the brave feminist professor, Camille Paglia, put it in her 1990 book, Sexual Personae, “If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts.”  Her point: most of the dangerous and grueling jobs that make our comfortable lives possible are done by men.  Yet we’ve heard this mendacious phrase ‘toxic masculinity’ repeatedly uttered by hysterical pundits of both genders in the context of horribly behaved men in entertainment, politics and news media.  They usually intend more than a wisp of a suggestion that all men manifest ‘toxic masculinity’. 

Nothing could be a more dangerous distortion of the truth.  Most women deeply desire masculinity in their men and few qualities are harder to imbue in a boy than masculinity.  Let’s stipulate that the bullying, grabbing, groping, and touching of women (as well as of themselves) by disgraced men isn’t masculine at all—it’s pathetic.  Masculinity is what most women yearn to surrender themselves to. It follows that males who seize what no woman wishes to grant is the very opposite of masculine.  It is their behavior that is appalling not their masculinity.  The culprit is their character, not their chromosomes.

When a woman possessing power and authority over a man torments him, nobody says its because of toxic femininity.  And they’re right not to blame her X chromosomes.  Her failing is one of character not biology.  The same is true for men.

When we describe a man as possessing masculine qualities, we don’t mean that he possesses male genitalia, an X chromosome and a Y chromosome.  We are saying far more than merely that he is male.  We are describing far more than his biological details; we are speaking of his spiritual qualities.  We think that he exhibits strength, confidence, competence, and character.  We admire his eagerness and his ability to support his family financially.  We might view him as assertive and ambitious but we are certainly not seeing him as creepy or criminal.

The Bible provides dozens of subtle clues to masculinity.  Here is one that is easy to miss.  Scripture contrasts two men who each spotted a woman he fancied and then involved his parents.  The first, a fellow called Shechem was a scoundrel.  He raped the woman and then asked his father to, “get this girl for me as a wife”.  (Genesis 34:4)

The second was the great Hebrew judge, Samson.  After seeing a woman he desired, he told his father and also his mother about her and asked them both (Hebrew reveals the plural of the verb) “Both of you, get her for me as a wife”.  (Judges 14:2)

Though the subsequent marriage (of which his parents disapproved) ended in disaster, it was part of God’s plan.  Nonetheless we learn from the differences between the scoundrel who seized the woman and the hero who wooed her.  Thugs, whatever their social station, prey on people they can overpower for the money and the sex they are unable to secure through service and honor.  It has nothing to do with masculinity.

23 thoughts on “Character, Not Chromosomes, Is the Culprit”

  1. Rabbi Lapin I look forward to your weekly Thought Tools, they provide me with inspiration throughout the week. I was wondering if in the near future you could expound on the masculine and feminine principles and why is it difficult to imbue boys with masculinity. Great article as usual. I desperately need a Rabbi. I hope you consider putting together a study course for those you who hunger for this wisdom.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Thank you Kevin–
      Yes, a few years ago we did a 2 1/2 day seminar on Men, Masculinity, Marriage & Money in Dallas, TX and it was very well attended by about 600 people. I am looking at doing it again and publishing the work book. Also you might take a look at Madam I’m Adam, a two hour audio study program. Read about it on our website store. Just click on “STORE” above.

  2. I grew up in a culture where (men) respected woman. We waked on the curb side of the side of the sidewalk, held their coats, held doors opened, and waited for the proper signals if they wanted romance. We thought of ourselves as their protectors, not their masters. More concisely “men were men and women were glad of it”.
    Thank you and Susan for wonderful insights.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Yes Brian–
      Both here and in the United Kingdom masculinity–the best of men–has devolved. Without exerting a great deal of child rearing energies, a boy left to himself spiritually will become either a thug or a wimp. Extremes are always easier to turn to than the middle of the road. Going on the wagon or becoming an alcoholic are both easier than having a few small responsible drinks. Society’s response has been to permissiveness towards thugs and approving embrace of wimps.

  3. Not since College have I the need to look up words (mendacious). Thanks for the stimulating articles.


    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Hello Joseph
      I am sorry for encroaching on your equanimity.
      Seriously though, it is always better to use a short simple word than a long and obscure word but in this case, I liked the rhythm that the word ‘mendacious’ gave this phrase…”Yet we’ve heard this mendacious phrase ‘toxic masculinity’ ….”

  4. Lost in all the sudden barrage in news of despicable behavior of men (many of them who identify as Jewish) towards women are the words “self-control”….. they head to “sex-addiction therapy” which is another way of saying therapy to address a “lack of or zero self-control”. If power is all about the ability to control others it is interesting to see how one who can control others cannot control himself. The Devil is in the details!

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Thanks Nancy-
      As long as I continue to source all I write in ancient Jewish wisdom, you will continue to find wisdom and common sense.

  5. Rabbi, you said that the marriage of Sampson ended in disaster and that was part of God’s plan. How can s failed marriage be part of God’s plan? Respectfully, Glenn Gilbert

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Glenn–
      When you’re a prophet your entire life is given over to God. There needed to be a reason the Philistines would understand for why Samson attacked them. Sex and marriage are so primal that all understand they can cause violence. In Western law there is a crime of passion. It is treated differently in different jurisdictions but in principle all agree that a man murdering another man he finds with his own wife is somewhat understandable. Samson’s life was entirely for God’s purpose and this is not unusual with other prophets and inded with leaders of all kinds. Often, leaders end up enjoying less than a normal and happy marriage on account of responsibilities which take precedence.

  6. I learned more about Carl Jung from the Rabbis talks, Carl Jung and the bible male me realize that we know little to nothing about human behavior it seems in all reality. The personhood is more complex then understanding the physics of shrodinger I cant even spell his name thats how complex it is. Yet men’s characters even in courts of law are brought into question on what basis? Our study of psycology it all seems like a bunch of garbage and balogna!!! Justice is what the Torah speaks of!! It speaks of the ancient Rabbi’s and unequal measures for the Shekel it brings forth the idea of free market economy imho yet it Does not seem anything like what we call law today or Justice through the lens of a leftist. Making men into woman is the epitome of what unnatural means by definition. Good day Im only allowed to post once a year and have exceeded my limit… ???

  7. Dear Rabbi Daniel Lapin,

    Three observations came to my mind:

    1. The phrase “passive aggressive” to describe a person, their disposition or their behavior is simply psychobabble because it is an oxymoron. A person is either being passive or they are being aggressive. I’ve concluded that the socialist elites (Stalinists) do not care about creating confusing language (doublespeak) because it is the means to an end: to be in power over others.

    The words toxic and masculine have been hijacked by the mainstream media to permeate the culture with bad ideas.

    2. There are not many women who’ve worked directly upon high rises, skyscrapers, and bridges. These often dangerous positions are not desireable jobs for the average female. Perhaps there is an element, aside from danger, to the jobs that discourage the interested female(s) from pursuing them: the men behave together differently than they do when a woman is present.

    What decent woman would even want to work with men on certain types of jobs?

    3. Good ideas spread like bad ideas, and it takes work to spread them both. One mission of mankind is to develop a good moral character and then to multiply it.

    The ideal environment creates human harmony from both its masculine and feminine ‘sides.’

    Take care,

    PS Our ‘Harvey’ flood survivor’s update: In the past month, we’ve been working to sell our home and shopping for another one. Within two months or less, re-locating to higher ground is a real possiblity.

  8. Your message resonates with a lesson I learned from one of my Hispanic brethren. Everybody, especially Americans, overuses and entirely misuses the term MACHO. It never was supposed to mean the arrogant, self-seeking demonstration of brutal male power. Machismo is not exaggerated, abusive exploitation of masculine strength to dominate others using the additional strength that testosterone confers. Machismo is rather the upright code of honor and human decency that is expected of a man. And as for those who curse masculinity as toxic: they will not like the place where they end up, where men become more like women and women become like men. Oh, no! When the chips are down, who then will swim through the icebergs and alligators to get help, now I ask you?

  9. Patricia Mclaughlin

    Dear Rabbi, I am not born of the Jewish faith but am so drawn to it. I love ready your refreshing words and straight forward comments. I am forwarding this much needed article to my three adult sons whom are wonderful men. You are so spot on! Women adore and respect real men. Bless your words they are so neeed, especially now. Our world needs more of what you are teaching. Warmest regards Patricia Mclaughlin

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Thank you Patricia–
      Good to hear your take and I hope your sons enjoy reading it.

  10. It is no wonder the next generation is stressed, suicidal, lost, immoral….

    For more than 50 years, WE have shunned God and His laws / ways and then wonder why all “heck” as broken loose.

    The cure for “bullying”…Teach again “Do unto to others as you would have others do to you”

    Post the 10 Commandments in every school house.

    We cannot expect morality and decency when we remove the Author of morality and decency from the public square.

    And yet the left expects human behavior to be otherwise?

    How many more man-made laws do we have to enact before we recognize, the laws of the ULTIMATE law giver have a purpose for mankind?

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Karen–
      Your rhetorical questions are exactly right and precisely to the point.

      1. Your the best Rabbi I’m terrible at writing my thumbs at times seem as if they were Created for grasping branches rather then pushing keys accurately on my smart phone.

        Yet Im good at Real Estate so I guess this makes it all ok.

        P.S. It seems as if Mr Trump wants to build the 3rd temple. By affirming the capitol of Israel is in fact the capitol.

Comments are closed.

Shopping Cart