David Phillips on Toxic Masculinity – Smart Sex, Smart Love

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This week Joe’s guest is the founder of IT in the D Podcast Detroit, David Phillips. Dave joins Joe to talk all things Toxic Masculinity. “Many, many guys are not cavemen!” says Dave. Toxic masculinity is a narrow and repressive description of manhood. It’s the cultural idea of manliness, where strength is everything, while emotions are a weakness. “As a guy, you’re seen as weak if you go see a therapist,” says Dave. “Men are told they shouldn’t express emotion or admit they feel vulnerable. That’s so wrong! You gotta be the guy friend who’s willing to speak up to kick toxic masculinity.”

Find Dave at:

IT In the D | Podcast Detroit

Speaker 1:

Welcome to smart sex, smart love. We’re talking about sex goes beyond the taboos and talking about love goes beyond the honeymoon. I’m dr Joe Kort. Thanks for tuning in.

Speaker 2:

[inaudible]

Speaker 1:

hello and today I’m joined by podcast Detroit’s founder, David Phillips to talk all things toxic masculinity. Dave is the geek that has been pushed into management roles over the span of his career. He’s been a help desk. Jackie, a team lead, a systems architect, and even a vice president over the course of his more than 20 years in informational technology. He’s been profiled by CNN money magazine for his work as well as being a regular speaker for the Michigan shifting gears program winning 2000 thirteens outstanding contributor for the transformation of careers and lives. After launching his podcast it in the D in early 2013 with his friend Bob Walton schpiel. They created their own studio in 2015 and launched podcast Detroit three months later with absolutely no idea with what they were doing. Podcast Detroit now spans three locations and nine studios as as with Mo an and are with more to come this year. Welcome Dave.

Speaker 3:

How are ya? Good. How’s it going? I’m having a grand old time. I’m so happy that you did hit broadcast to Detroit because here I am there. Here you are. Yeah, you can be a platform and we still don’t know what we’re doing. It’s fun. It’s fun. But you’re doing it and it’s happening, right. Just organically unfold. Exactly. All right. We are here today to talk about toxic masculinity. Can you define that? Um, God, I w I wish I had a nice, neat, simple, easy definition for it. I mean, I, I look at it as, cause it, it seems to flux over the course of like how things evolve and what’s going on on social media and all that kind of stuff. Um, to me, toxic masculinity is just being a guy that’s being a deck. Um, you know, for no other reason than you’re just a guy. You know, it’s, you know, when you’re trying to beat somebody down from another gender or, or whatever else. Um, you know, and I, I’ll wait but I’ve got like three specific examples that I can come back to that they kind of point out how I’ve seen that evolve over the course of, of like the last 10 years. I suppose. I always like to, if I could just

Speaker 1:

interject this because this is one of the things I do in my trainings. We teach little boys to uh, fend off, um, unwanted feelings, vocabulary around feelings. We stopped touching boys earlier than we stopped touching little girls and we teach little boys not to touch other little boys and we allow girls to be see up tomboys for a period of time. Yep. Boys never get to be sissies, right? Nope. I have a trans therapist in my practice who says that when he presented female in the women’s room, there’s a lot of talking and nobody noises in the men’s room. We’re not allowed to talk and it’s all body noises. Very true. Then the guy grows up and he has no access to his feelings because, and no, and touch at begins to mean something else cause nobody has been touching him. And then they’re called Dick’s pigs. Yeah. No chauvinist,

Speaker 3:

whatever. And we forget how we raise boys. What do you think about that? I wholeheartedly agree. I mean, so I’ve got a 12 year old daughter, uh, and a 10 year old son and it’s interesting watching the difference, uh, between the two. And I’m going, I’m doing my best as a dad to keep that for me in the case. Uh, you’re like my, my 10 year old son definitely has a, uh, I won’t say immensely strong, but he’s, he’s definitely got a feminine streak. Um, you know, he’s very into fashion. He’s very into, uh, you know, just things that one would traditionally call female, not gonna lock them down over it and then let him live his life and figure out who and what he wants to be. Nice. Awesome. I wish my dad had done that for me, but it was different generation, different.

Speaker 3:

Very, very much so. But I mean, but to your point, I mean, it is, I mean, we are, I mean, as guys we’re told, suck it up, you know, uh, you’re not supposed to show emotion. You’re not supposed to, you know, have feelings. You’re not supposed to. I mean, I was raised in a pretty old school, Italian family. Um, and it was, you know, you were the guy, you were supposed to be strong. You were supposed to provide you, and anything less than that, you were a failure. You know? And Oh, by the way, you can’t talk about it if you’re having feelings of failure. So just internalize it and let it fester. Yeah. People talk about patriarchy, hurting women, and it does, but it also hurts men because it doesn’t apply to all men. Right. Right. And so some men are left out of that fraternity for sure.

Speaker 3:

And then feel like they don’t exist. Yeah. Well, I mean, you look at, I mean, so I’ve been a geek my whole life. You know, I’ve, I’ve always, you know, I was basically born with a keyboard in my hand. And so it’s true. I mean, my parents were R and D folks for Wang back when that meant something. What does it mean now? Uh, I don’t think they do anything anymore. So Wang was a, so it used to be like a digital equipment deck. Wang, um, they were the big computer companies back in the 80s. Um, and, and so like, you know, my, my stepfather designed, uh, Tempest secure systems for like the state department and that kind of stuff. I grew up with an ARPANET connection in the house, the precursor to the internet. To me, I’ve, I’ve always been a geek. Okay. And that, that wasn’t like it is now.

Speaker 3:

I mean, it’s, it’s, you know, you have geek culture is a thing now and back then, no, you were, you were an outcast. You were, you know, you didn’t have that support system. You didn’t have, you know, any of that other than other geeks. Yeah. And so the, your masculinity was probably challenged. Oh, absolutely. Right. You know, I wasn’t captain football. I mean, I played hockey when I got into high school. Um, but like, I wasn’t, you know, the stereotypical jock. I was, you know, and, and so with me in particular, like my other thing is, so I skipped two grades. Um, I skipped first and seventh grades and so I was all, you know, by the time I hit high school, I was always two years younger. So I was two years smaller. I was two years everything. Oh, I meant by that. When I graduated college I was 20.

Speaker 3:

I was still using fake IDs when I graduated college. And so, you know, I, I developed a personality to kind of deflect a lot of that. You know, I was smaller, I was younger, I was, you know, whatever. Uh, and that’s probably what saved my life going for your time. Um, well my mouth has a tendency to get me in trouble, but I learned how to use it to get me out of trouble as well. Yeah, you are very good at verbal. You’re very good. We bullied. Um, Oh God. Yeah. Oh God. Yeah. Uh, you know, I went through, like I said, I mean I was always smaller. I was always younger. Um, you know, hockey, I played goalie cause it was one of the, one of the, at that time, one of the few positions where size didn’t really, you didn’t have to be a big kid to be only a knee and it was just, it was a thing.

Speaker 3:

I mean, and then I got into theater and then I got it, you know, so I was always all these nontraditional things. Um, that probably didn’t help my case, but it’s, you know, my mom in particular was phenomenal about, you know, supporting me and letting me be who I wanted to be. Uh, which is one of the reasons Okey. Well, but when she died when I was 16, that kind of ripped the rug out from underneath, you know, so, you know, it was what it was. Yeah. And so, um, I think about how bullied I was for, you know, I was a gay, gay, gay little boy and everyone else could see it before I could see it. And so I was bullied a lot for that and shamed because, um, you know how the little girls get to be tomboys. My sister was the sports.

Speaker 3:

We have a picture of her with a baseball bat and her uniform. And there are no pictures of what I was like as a little boy. I would take her black tights, put them over my head and singing into her hair parts, pretending to be share, throwing back the legs. And I’m very proud of those days. I sometimes still do it. Hey, and I, and I get it. I mean, it was, um, you know, I remember the first time I told them that I was going to be in a musical and I was the lead in a musical. Um, and it, it wasn’t necessarily, I mean, my mom thought it was great stepdad so much. Um, but it’s, you know, she kind of overruled, you know, I got to do what I wanted to do. Um, and again, I mean, it’s, it’s a lot different now. I mean, uh, so laughably we were just at a con, um, a couple of weeks ago and one of the vendors had brought a huge, uh, like movie prop from little shop of horrors. They brought the Audrey too, which was that play. Um, and I’m walking through the lobby and I see it and the first thing that comes to mind just started belting out suddenly Seymour and like everybody turned and stopped and looked at. They went at Dave [inaudible].

Speaker 3:

But that’s nice that you were able to surpass that. Right. Cause the toxic masculinity and the way we treat boys can destroy them, destroy them. You know, I see that with, with so many friends. I mean, you know, I went through it enough, people know this, that it doesn’t matter. Um, but I mean I went through a really tough spell about a year and a half ago and what, I’m going to see a therapist and that’s not something that guys are supposed to do. We’re just supposed to, you know, go out for a couple of beers and, you know, hash shit out with the guys. Nah, that wouldn’t help it. Uh, you know, it wasn’t helping me get my head back on straight. Um, eight months with a therapist. Cool. Cause like I, I kinda got my collective head back together and got myself re-centered and rebalanced. And that’s what I needed.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And, but there’s such a stigma against it, particularly guys where, you know, again, you’re seen as weak. You’re seen as, you know, needing support, which for some reason is a bad, um, you know, yeah. You know, a, as an author, they tell you, uh, if you want to write a book, you have to write it to women, not men, because men do not read books. Very true. And it’s awful. Cause I have a book that I think would be best for men and women, but I had to write it only to women. So then men contact me and say, how come there’s not a book for me? Because men don’t know cause I was told. But also, and so speaking of writing, I mean that’s, that’s one of the examples I have is so I’m about six, seven years ago, uh, or actually no, I take it back.

Speaker 3:

So she is now 12, about five years ago. Um, I wrote, uh, so, you know, I run in addition to podcast Detroit, this started because of a thing called it in the D R networking group for it folks in the Metro Detroit area. And we write a series of blogs and all that kind of stuff out there. A lot of them are very lighthearted and funny. Some of them we take on pretty seriously. One of the ones I wrote is what, what taking my daughter to a comic bookstore taught me. Um, so my daughter was seven, my son was five and I took them to a comic shop and my son was in heaven. He wanted like, I didn’t even like there, apparently there were nine different versions of Spiderman and 12 different versions of Batman and 18 Superman’s and yet at data. And he was, he was just in heaven.

Speaker 3:

And I caught my daughter, uh, just kinda like standing there looking and, and she’s always been very old for her age. Um, and so, you know, even at seven I walked over and I’m like, Ooh, are you okay? And she’s like, dad, I don’t get it. Where the comic books for the girls. And I was like, what do you mean? I’m like, these are all comic books. And she’s like, no dad, no, these, these are for boys. She’s like, this is, she’s like, this is stupid. She’s like, and she starts pointing out where she’s like, that’s supposed to be Harley Quinn. Harley Quinn doesn’t track, cause she was playing like Lego Batman and Harley Quinn was a cute character, or she was used to the cartoons and she’s like, Harley Quinn doesn’t trust like that. She’s like, I don’t want to dress like that. And then she’s like, you know, and then she’s like, what’s that universe?

Speaker 3:

And she was like, she’s like, I don’t get it. So I walked up to the guy that ran the place and I was like, Hey, you know, I’ve got, you know, uh, my daughter’s with me, you know, she’s having trouble finding stuff. And he was like, always like, and he looks at it and he’s like seven, eight years old. I’m like, yeah. And he reaches out on the counter and he pulls out, um, my little pony. Um, and like Archie or something like that. And he and I, and I just kind of looked at my cock, my head, I’m like, like, really? Like that’s, that’s where we are. Like, there are literally literally hundreds of things on the shelves for that. My five year old son is going just nuts about, and you have to that, that are, that are good for her. Um, and, and he was like, dude, he’s like, I get it.

Speaker 3:

He’s like, I have a daughter the same age. And I’m like, well, then why aren’t you doing better? Like, why aren’t you trying? So, you know, and, and so I posted this, um, I posted the whole experience and, and where the whole toxic masculinity part came in is we went viral, um, like Reddit went nuts about it. Um, and this, and this is actually the reason why I’m still convinced that Reddit is, it’s the most Eisley Cantina of the internet. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. I mean, I was called everything from Iowa. I was, I was clearly gay. I was a fag. I was a homo. Um, I was making it up because, you know, no, seven year old talks like that. I was, you know, it was dedeh I was, I was just an AST and, and, and it just, and it floored me that there was that much negativity and so, and, and I don’t want, I want to make sure I’m clear.

Speaker 3:

Like, so there was, there, there was an overwhelming amount of negativity there, but there were also things like the author, um, the da that did the captain Marvel comics at the time, um, reached out and sent my daughter a box, um, of like signed, uh, captain Marvel and other female strong character condoms, um, that she had been working on. And you know, there were other people that were like, Oh my God, you know, I’m a comic artist. Um, my daughter turns, you know, my daughter just turned two, so she’ll be seven in five years. Comic industry, you have that long to fix this problem. Um, and there, and so there’s a lot of positivity that went along with it too. But just that overwhelming, ah, like I was like, I know, why can’t you just accept this as reality and move on? Well, here’s the thing, and I think we need to talk about privilege, right?

Speaker 3:

I know it’s become a bad word. The minute I say it, everybody rolls their eyes. And even I have done that at times, but really men are privileged. Absolutely. And if you don’t acknowledge that and understand how it takes away privilege or you, you don’t inadvertently, you’re, you’re, you know what I mean? Like that comic book story is a good example. And it’s, and it’s sad because like that example, like that, that situation really hammered home for me, like a lot of what I knew casually. Um, cause you know, I’ve been in the it industry forever and I mean, in the it industry is extremely male dominated, um, and can be insanely toxic. Um, you know, and, and it’s, you know, that’s, that’s one of those things that it kind of hit kinda hammered home for me where, you know, all of those, you know, the stories I had heard or the, you know, I’ve, I’ve always had a lot of female friends that, you know, even in the evening that were in it and you know, the, you know, being casually dismissed in meetings and, you know, having their ideas ignored until a guy said the exact same thing and, you know, that kind of stuff.

Speaker 3:

It really just hit me upside the forehead with a sledgehammer that yeah, this really is an issue. Um, and, and the sad part is, is I even, I even wrote that, so I wrote a part two, um, which is what publishing, taking my daughter to a comic bookstore taught me. And one of the things that I’d written in there was even me saying something like that, like, Hey, this really taught me something and I’m going to try to be better. I caught flack for that. They were like, you know, cause like one of the, one of the things I, one of the statements I made, or one of the things I wrote in there was, um, you know, no, I don’t want my daughter growing up to dress Lake mystique, um, who’s a very scantily clad character and yada yada, yada. You know, and, and somebody commented and was like, Oh my God, that’s such slut shaming.

Speaker 3:

And I was like, and I, and I replied, I’m like, it’s, it’s not, it’s teaching my daughter reality. In a perfect world, in a utopian society, no, nobody should give a damn how you are dressed. Yeah. We don’t live in that world. Yup. And so, yep. First impressions matter. And yet people make snap judgements and yet people assume things about you. You know, I, I get treated differently if I’m in a suit versus if I’m jeans and a tee shirt, if I, you know, whatever everybody does. And so it’s just the reality of life. And, and so like even that, and I think that’s, that’s sort of somewhat what makes it hard is that even when, even when someone like me says something like, wow, I acknowledge there’s an issue, I’m really, I’m going to try to do better on, I want to understand how to help make the situation better. You get lit on fire.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Well there’s this tension, right? You don’t want to sludge shame and you should be able to dress however you want. And there’s a reality. RuPaul just came out, I love him. He’s doing these VI, these Facebook things and he says, you want to make money put on a suit. Yeah. Because that’s how they’re going to make, that’s how you’re going to get a job. And sometimes you have to do what the mainstream wants even if it’s causing you duress and find other ways to express it. So how do we deal with toxic Macedonia? How do you help a guy through that?

Speaker 3:

You’ve got to be the guy friend that’s willing to speak up and end it. Like, that’s, that’s what the situation has taught me more than anything else is that, you know, I’ve, I’ve got some very, very strong female friends. Um, and that’s the one thing they’ve hammered home with me over and over and over again, is that Dave, you are that guy that can help. So be that guy. Will they listen in some cases? Yes. Um, I, I can think of a few examples where my commentary and, and even pulling somebody aside because I mean, I’m, I’ve always been on those people that, that, uh, praise should be public criticism, should be private. I love that. Um, and, and so even if it’s, you know, pulling them aside, did you say, Hey, look, you know, here’s where you went wrong in that situation. I’ve had it just, it’s going on right now.

Speaker 3:

There’s, there’s very much a sort of a mini me to a thing going on with the comic con community, um, here in the area. And, um, a male, uh, writer and artist, uh, laughably, it’s his own fault. Uh, he posted something about a month ago that was like, guys, you’ve got to do better. And yet 80 yada, and this is why I’m such a great guy. And it started a flood of messages from women. I’m responding about what a misogynistic gaslighting Dick he is. Um, and, and then so, you know, and that kind of went on for the better part of a week and then he posted some sort of half-assed apology. And one of the things I read and I was like, look, I’m like sensory. I said, normally I would just message you. I said, but since you’re making this all public, um, dude, here’s where you went wrong.

Speaker 3:

I’m like, you know your your first message, even though you try, even though you’ve now tried to qualify it and say, well, I wasn’t putting myself on a pedestal. Read the text of your message again. Yes. You were putting yourself on a pedestal and then like you’re, you’re saying you’re sorry because people have hurt feelings, but not because of your actions that caused that behavior. Yes. And you have to own your shit. That’s part of being an adult. Yes. You’ve got to own this shit before you can truly help make it go away. Now I’m seeing in therapy now, this is clinical samples only, right? But they’re coming to me and saying, men are, and they’re saying, I want to do better. I’m listening to the me too movement. I’m listening to my wife. I don’t want to be. And frankly, some are very scared of doing something non consensually when they don’t even know it’s non-consent Julie.

Speaker 3:

And I think that’s a really important thing for people to know that men are, and most men are not just sitting back going, I don’t care. They’re really wanting to do better. They don’t know how. Yeah, no, very true. I mean, it’s, I, and I would, I would say the vast majority of guys are not, you know, cave men sitting there with, you know, a club over their shoulder going grog going to get a woman’s bra, you know, but in, in many ways, you know, and it’s one of the examples that, uh, my friend Erica gave me, she’s like, it’s, you know, super Mario brothers. She’s like, the whole concept of the game is that the princess has to be rescued and you just have to keep going through these trials and tribulations before you find the princess that can be rescued. Maybe the princess doesn’t need to be rescued.

Speaker 3:

Maybe the princess is hiding from your ass. Yeah, I love that. Uh, so yeah. Yeah. And I feel like I’m in LA and when I’m working with couples, so here’s what we’ve always said in therapy when couples mixed sex couples come in, women, it’s a privileged position for a woman to be in because she has access to her feelings. She knows what to say. He doesn’t. So we usually have historically said that men need to catch up to women so that we can do good couples therapy for sure. But now we say not only that, can women meet men where they’re at to men can talk and men will talk if the therapist and the female partner can be a little more quiet. They may not like what he says. He may not say it. Well, he may not, but he needs, nobody can talk.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, no, very true. And so that’s really where we’re heading in therapy. And I like that because it’s, it’s not, it’s it, we have to understand where men, how we socialize boys. If we forget that and we just say, here’s this man and here’s how he is, then it’s not, it’s not enough. True. Uh, so, and then so the third example I wanted to, cause this was one that actually prompted this discussion. Um, just as this is my, my geek background talking to star Wars. Um, so you look at, you know, all of the backlash that happened with episode seven, eight and nine, you know, that came out. You know, I just came out back in December. And so the funny thing about that is you’ve got and how it backfired on, on those, I used to, I love, my favorite term for them was buttered fanboys.

Speaker 3:

Um, so you know, they, they were so mad about strong female characters in seven and eight that they decided they were going to boycott the standalone movie solo. That came out well. So your actions then made that movie less successful than it really should’ve been. When in reality, that’s the movie that you wanted because that’s the one that was most like the one that came out back in 77 and had that swashbuckling Han solo character and yada. That’s, that’s what you want. And that’s what you could have had. Yeah. But you were a butthurt fan boy. And so you skipped that movie until it was on HBO or whatever else it was. Um, and then, cause I did, I saw all, all the people that are like, Oh, I’m, I’m boycotting solo cause screw star Wars. Then it came and they were like, Oh, that was, that was a really good movie.

Speaker 3:

I w I wish I would’ve said that in the theater, you know, and so, you know, you’ve got things like, you know, the like Rose street goes character and that kind of stuff where, you know, heaven forbid, you know, there’d be a woman in authority when people forget. Guys. The first, the first three movies that came out, Leah was the princess that engineered her own escape. Uh, that saved their asses by blasting a hole in the wall and all that stuff. Monmouth, FEMA, female leader of the rebellion forces, all that kind of stuff. They like to remember Leah in the gold bikini, but they forget that lay in the gold bikini is the one that wrapped the chain around Java’s neck and choked him to death. So it’s not like they’re having always been strong for you, then they’re loving the Mandalorian when the Mandalorian.

Speaker 3:

Okay, great. Honestly, the bounty Hunter is almost a side character. Like the male is almost because you’ve got a strong female character and you’ve got of course baby Yoda, which is taking over the world. Um, but yeah, so I mean it’s, it’s stupid stuff like that that, you know, they don’t understand how it really does hurt them in the long run by not just letting things evolve. And it’s okay. Like number one change is inevitable and know to do. It’s not always, it doesn’t always have to be painful. Right. And, and really letting yourself question gender expression and really giving yourself more fluidity. Yep. So, uh, where can they find you Dave? Cause people want a platform just like you and me to talk like this. Absolutely. So, I mean, you know, obviously a podcast, Detroit, uh, all the things, whether it’s the.com, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, all those places.

Speaker 3:

Um, and then it in the D, um, is information technology in the Detroit, know it in the D I’s, it, and the D. dot com. And again, Facebook, Twitter, all the things if you’re looking for, um, either our writing, uh, you know, our blogs, our entries, our meetups, you know, we help people find jobs, that kind of stuff. Oh, that’s right. Thank you Dave. And if you enjoyed this episode, please don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe and follow me on Instagram and Twitter at dr Joe Kort. That’s Joe K O R T till next week. Thanks for tuning in and goodbye.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for listening to this episode of smart sex, smart love. I’m dr Joe court and you can find me on Joe kort.com. That’s J O E K O R t.com. See you next time.

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