Riley Gaines blames the trans phenomenon on society's push to redefine all "masculinity as toxic and bad and undesirable." Speaking to Bill Maher in a yet to be released interview, Gaines said that "the last time we have strong men" was during the 1940s, when men flocked to join the military.
"Think about this," she told Maher, "1940s, World War II. Men lied about their age to get to enlist. Now, in 2023, we have men lying about their sex to get into women's sports or women's prisons or domestic shelters or sororities or bathrooms, locker rooms."
In contemporary America, however, the concept of "toxic masculinity" has taken over. The idea is to blame masculinity for, essentially, all of society's ills. The masculine impulse to lead, take risks, protect women and family, to be aggressive, is considered to be essentially and innately bad. Men who exhibit these tendencies, in today's America, are urged to step-back and give others space to lead.
American men are encouraged to hide their light, belittle their own talents, and allow women to take their place in traditionally male roles—up to a point. While the feminist movement pushes women to lead board rooms, manage companies, and take charge of families, it does not press them to join the military, to lower themselves into coal mines, or to toil away on oil rigs.
What the concept of toxic masculinity does to men is tell them that their urges, impulses, ways of existing in the world, must be altered, and their the thing they are, being male itself, is damaging to society, culture, and other human beings.
For Gaines, who states outright that the term trans woman is giving up women's language to describe themselves to men, and erases women, society needs "more masculine men."
The men who rise to prominence by taking on women's appearance and presentation, such as Dylan Mulvaney, or who steal women's awards in sport simply by competing against females instead of males, such as Lia Thomas has more to do with the decline of respect and appreciation for masculinity than with those males actually believing they are women.
Gaines should know. She competed against Thomas, a 6' 4" well-endowed male who claimed to be a woman after a few months of taking estrogen. Prior to taking a woman's place on the UPenn women's swim team, Thomas ranked nationally near 500 in men's competition. Despite the obvious advantages, Thomas said "trans women are not a threat to women's sports."
Thomas trounced the female competition at the NCAA championships in Atlanta in 2022, and female competitors and their families were encouraged not to mention that Thomas is factually male, but to let Thomas run roughshod over the female competitors, many of whom stood head and shoulders below Thomas tall, broad, masculine stature.
"I'm a woman, so I belong on the women's team," Thomas said in 2022 to Sports Illustrated where Thomas, not the female swimming champions, was interviewed about the experience of competing in women's swimming.
Sports Illustrated accompanied the interview with a graphic showing Thomas underwater, blurred by ripples, wearing a very large women's swimsuit, swim cap and goggles, with the words "to swim as herself."
It was also as "herself" that Thomas joined the women's swim team, began underdressing in front of women in the women's locker room, with what Gaines indicated was a penis commensurate with Thomas' large, male stature.
"Thomas throttled her competition," Sports Illustrated wrote. But for Thomas, the whole undertaking was an effort in activism. "I just want to show trans kids and young trans athletes that they're not alone. They don't have to choose between who they are and the sport they love."
Gaines, however, watched her teammates and collegiate colleagues unable to compete on a fair playing field. She watched the scales tip entirely in Thomas' favor as the women competitors were silenced, their concerns criticized as bigotry, and she chose to speak up unequivocally.
As men are belittled and berated for their toxic masculinity, some men attempt to cast off their maleness and take on female affect. While these men proclaim their rights to live and work as they choose, they have no concern for the women they displace. Gaines is one of a growing number of women who simply ask for their own space back, and encourage men to take back theirs.
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