Man of the House: Challenging the Pandemic of Toxic Masculinity

Nicholas Fair Nowak
Equality Includes You
10 min readApr 19, 2020

Photo by Kelly Lacy from Pexels

In 2005, Larry King asked Donald Trump if he looked forward to being a father again following his marriage with Melania Knauss. Trump’s reply:

The way I look at it, there’s nothing like a good marriage. And there’s nothing like having children. I have four great children. If you have the money, having children is great. Now I know Melania, I’m not gonna be doing the diapers, I’m not gonna be making the food, I may never even see the kids, frankly… She will be an unbelievable mother. I’ll be a good father, but I’ll be, you know, doing my deals. (Fast forward to 4:40 on CNN’s video for proof that this is not fake news)

In the president’s defense, this was 15 years ago, and as the leader of the free world, and as a man and father, I hope that his cumulative experience since 2005 has broadened his definition of what makes a good parent and good marriage. Societal trends indicate that the traditional gender norms, which President Trump once described, are outdated. Indeed, Marlo Thomas’s 1972 record album, Free to Be…You and Me, published in 1972, rode the waves of the Civil Rights Movement and post-1960s gender neutrality to retire traditional gender norms for most people alive at the time. Come to think of it, perhaps no one should be coming to the president’s defense.

The Issue with Toxic Masculinity and Gender Norms

According to the Social Security Administration, women’s participation in the labor force went from 37% of women (aged 20–64) in 1950 to 71% in 2011. To be clear, this statistic reflects women spending more time outside of the home and in the workplace, though they still do the majority of unpaid labor outside of their professions. Now in 2020, the agency of women continues to grow–as it should–yet, with what Liz Plank calls the “masculinity moral panic,” the message that some men seem to be absorbing “is that if marginalized groups have more rights, they [those in the majority] will have fewer, which is of course not at all how human rights work” (2019, p. 52).

A simple truth remains: women, who make up half of the world’s population, are entitled to the same human rights and opportunities as men, and too many men still believe otherwise.

Nicholas Fair Nowak
Equality Includes You

Dad, husband, educator, camp guy, founder of — building better culture, masculinity, and leadership. Medium profits support educational equity.