Forum: Sexism is toxic, not masculinity or femininity, Forum News & Top Stories

It was interesting to read the recent discussions between panellists at the Institute of Policy Studies Women’s Conference (Legislation, mindset shifts needed to oppose toxic masculinity, say experts, June 4).

Is Singapore perfect in terms of gender equality, if being perfect is possible? Most people like me would likely say no.

But I believe that we are slowly and surely progressing in the right direction and such open discussion will go towards achieving gender equality.

However, using the term “toxic masculinity” is not helpful in any way.

The Oxford dictionary defines masculinity as “the fact of being a man; the qualities that are considered to be typical of men”.

The word masculinity is almost equivalent to the word “man”, and putting the word “toxic” in front of masculinity, besides being unhelpful, is in fact hurting the very movement of gender equality, where neither gender should be viewed as better or worse.

If we are to insist on using the term “toxic masculinity” and discussing it, should we not also discuss “toxic femininity” and how this term is not helpful?

What is toxic is neither masculinity nor femininity. It is sexism – the unfair treatment of people because of their sex.

We should look at sexism and address it in the areas of leadership, culture, attitude and behaviour, just to name a few.

Men and women have an equal role to play and not attaching the term “toxic” to either masculinity or femininity would definitely go a long way in fighting sexism.

Benjamin Ng C.K.

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