Searching for Toxic Masculinity in Las Vegas

Until January of this year, I had never been to Las Vegas, for obvious reasons. The “Sin City” marketing campaign never appealed to me, because despite the claim that, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” I know that no sin committed ever remains detached from one’s soul.

Plus it’s just so darn hot. You’d think even just a day’s worth of withstanding the hellish Nevada heat would be enough to deter would-be sinners from the temptations that lead to everlasting fire. But, as no more than 60 seconds in the Las Vegas airport affirmed, this is not the case.

I landed in Vegas at 10:30 p.m. The only flights I could find from Pennsylvania arrived when the skies would be dark enough to unveil Vegas in all its glitzy glory. Alas, a sorry-looking lot of passengers waiting to board the delayed plane I had just arrived on sobered the scene. Maniacal gambling machines, making merry, melodious sounds in mockery of these tired people trying to get the heck outta Dodge depressed the city’s début all the more. Romantic, old-timey music – I think it was Mel Tormé – accompanied me as I wended my way to ground transportation. My mind, at least, was transported to an era of refinement, until, at the apparition of a sign advertising, “Girls’ Night: Thunder from Down Under,” it wandered and wondered: Did Mel’s amorous crooning help Vegas visitors recall having let “Australian hunks entertain [them] with their sexy six packs and raunchy dance moves” nostalgically, somehow?

Even the baggage claim sign was suggestive, directing passengers to the carousels with an upside-down pair of slim legs wearing red peep-toe heels, matching nail polish, and nothing else.

Why? Because Vegas, baby!

Fast-forward ten hours. I’m standing in dazzling sunshine. The air is refreshing and clean, in that way only desert air can be. I’m eavesdropping on a pair of brawny men in cargo pants and flannel shirts discussing “the thickest porterhouse you’ve ever seen.” Ahh. Finally something I relate to.

A shuttle bus ride skirting “the Strip” brings me to The Sands Expo Center, where the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show is being held. It’s where more than 60,000 firearms enthusiasts gather each January to peruse 7 million pounds-worth of wares some 2,400 exhibitors display across 12.5 miles of aisles. That’s 16 acres of gun stuff. If “toxic masculinity” were to exist anywhere, the dreaded societal poison would manifest itself manfully at SHOT Show, surely.

The Most Dangerous Game
Piers Morgan, whose views I, at times, cautiously agree with (he’s very anti-gun), recently lambasted the American Psychological Association’s (APA) release of “Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men.”

“[The APA] condemned traditional masculinity as ‘harmful,’” Morgan wrote. “Specifically, it stated that male traits like ‘stoicism’, ‘competitiveness’, ‘achievement’, ‘eschewal of the appearance of weakness’, ‘adventure’, and ‘risk’ are bad and should be expunged…it’s basically saying that it’s wrong, and harmful, to be masculine, to be a man.”

Just as it has systematically done with so many noble institutions of Western culture, the mainstream media’s calculated, widespread attack on men is evidently spurring on an erosion of masculinity.

Research shows modern males are attracted less and less to things deemed to be “manly.” “Millennial Men Ditching Traditional ‘Masculine’ Values, More Likely to Embrace ‘Emotional Strength,’” a headline from studyfinds.org reported in December 2018.

“The research, led by the University of British Columbia, showed that younger men tend to value selflessness, social engagement, and health over traditional male ideals like physical strength and autonomy,” the report said.

Similarly, an article in the British Daily Mail revealed last week, “Baby boomer men HATED the #MeToo-inspired Gillette ad that took aim at toxic masculinity, but the majority of younger men embraced it.”

Science and SHOT Show
The thing is, though, men are naturally physically stronger than women. They’re created to take charge and defend. We know this. Not even some APA guidelines can make this fact untrue.

Men are also, according to research compiled by Brave the World, more likely to take risks. They tend to thrive in conflict, while women avoid it. Men are also biologically designed to woo, while women are disposed to be pursued (another natural phenomenon the mainstream media loves to vilify).

“Psychologist Marquita Williams believes that seeking protectors is a combination of both the genetic and the environmental,” said a 2012 PRNewswire article. “‘Biologically women have the babies, so we inherently seek partners who can protect and nurture us,’ she says. ‘It harkens back to when men were the hunters and gatherers and women were the nesters.’”

In other words, science shows it is the very traits of “toxic masculinity” that enable men to fulfill their innate roles as protectors and providers in society. And being a successful provider and protector is much easier when one has access to the sort of state-of-the-art technologies pertaining to guns, ammo, knives, and survival gear found at SHOT Show.

Man’s intrinsic penchant for such weaponry and related paraphernalia, and the fact that women are hard-wired to seek mates who are interested in using such tools to benefit them and their offspring, was evidenced by the 300-1 male to female ratio (perhaps a slight exaggeration, but not by much) of SHOT Show attendees.

These men, so absorbed by the latest advancements in everything ranging from concealed carry Glock pistols, to limited edition Case pocket knives, to new 5.11 hiking boots and specialized reaming tools, seemed blissfully unaware of the amusing contrast they and their variations of Flat Dark Earth apparel made to the gaudy interior of the Venetian – the exact opposite sort of setting for which their earth-toned getups were designed.

At one point during the show, I asked a group of guys in a long line leading to the Gerber Knife booth what they were waiting for. (It should be noted that Gerber had a tattoo artist on hand throughout the show at its “Tattoo Saloon” to provide people free – and real! – tattoos of knives.) The men told me they were awaiting the free Gerber giveaways, namely: knives, hats, beer … “guy stuff.” I feigned offense, saying I liked knives and beer, too. They apologized for typecasting me, but, apparently mistaking me for a feminist, did not offer to let me cut the line with them, much to my dismay.

The War on Men and Guns
Ahh, “guy stuff”: means by which males are aided in fulfilling their duty of safeguarding the weak and innocent and providing for their continuation. Yet guy stuff, and guys themselves, are under attack. Gun control, especially in recent months, has been spreading like wildfire across the nation. Every day, a new policy to regulate who can access firearms and gun accessories, where, when, and how, is proposed or enacted.

How insulting – to all Americans, but especially to men – to imply we aren’t to be trusted to safely own and operate tools that are often the best means of saving our own lives and those of our loved ones.

Politico Magazine reported in 2015 that “[Instances of defensive gun use] are very common, probably more common than criminal uses of guns.” Likewise, the Heritage Foundation reported last year, “Higher rates of gun ownership are not associated with higher rates of violent crime,” and, “There is no clear relationship between strict gun control legislation and homicide or violent crime rates.”

Nevertheless, real men and their natural instincts are now disparaged as “toxic,” and “guy stuff,” especially guns, as “dangerous.” Gun control and “toxic masculinity” have joined forces, waging on two fronts two battles in the war to emasculate, and ultimately control, America.

Just last week, USA Today reported, “The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled this month that victims of a mass shooting in 2012 at a Newton, Connecticut, elementary school could sue the maker of the rifle used in the attack over its advertising.

The problem, the plaintiffs’ lawyers said, is that young men can be obsessed with the military or succumb to the image of masculinity that the ads promise if they buy the semiauto rifles. ‘Consider Your Man Card Reissued,’ reads a Bushmaster ad for its AR-15-style gun, the kind used in the Sandy Hook shooting. The ad speaks to a ‘macho hyper-masculinity,’ said one of the attorneys, Katie Mesner-Hage.”

This ruling could be disastrous for gun manufacturers. Did the Bushmaster ad say – or even imply – anywhere that possessing a “man card” means cowardly preying on innocent school children? Quite the opposite, in fact. Gun manufacturers often, as USA Today points out, make use of military themes in their marketing, with images of tough, tactical men doing their duty to serve and protect so Americans can sleep in peace at night. Not toxic, exactly.

The war on guns is also, incidentally, a war on feminism. Samuel Colt, for whom the iconic gun brand is named, famously dubbed the gun “the great equalizer,” and indeed, an average-sized woman is no match for a man, let alone more than one, unless she has a gun. A paper titled, “Armed Resistance to Crime” found that in 1995, women accounted for 46 percent of cases of defensive gun use.

AmericanGunFacts.com reports women use a gun to defend against sexual abuse 200,000 times a year. Despite, or perhaps, because of the left’s war on men and women taking it upon themselves to adopt the traditional manly role of defender, there’s been a huge surge in recent years in the number of women taking it upon themselves to become armed. The National Shooting Sports Foundation reported female gun ownership increased an astounding 77 percent between 2004 and 2011. The number of female concealed carry permit holders has skyrocketed by 200 percent during the last decade.

Still Many Manly Men
The absence of real men and the weapons they are skilled at using to protect the innocent will make the world a less safe place, plain and simple. The coordinated assault on traditional masculinity will erode the fabric of the family and society as a whole, leading to chaos in more ways than one.

The good news is that, at least for now, there are plenty of real men left in America who pay no heed to the toxic insults hurled at them. I sought out a group of men who looked to be the epitome of what progressive gender warriors despise, and asked them what they thought of “toxic masculinity.” It turned out they were SWAT team members and looked at me, dumbfounded. Finally, one hazarded a guess, “‘Toxic masculinity’…is that some type of cologne?”

Progressives are picking a fight with the wrong guys. These men are not afraid of sticks or stones, and certainly not labels.

No Toxicity Here
And so, after a few days mingling with America’s most tactical men, I left the Tropicana Hotel, its faded white plastic, red pleather, and dated carpet smelling of musty cigarettes, with Cardi B serenading me on my way out at 6 a.m. (Some people’s early mornings are others’ late, late nights, I supposed.)

Aside from my SHOT Show experience, I found Vegas to be a city in decline. I was constantly reminded of scenes from the highly relatable film Swingers, a cult classic that perfectly captures how once-glittering things are more depressing in their decrepitude than if they had never shone at all. During my stay, I made use of the Tropicana’s rear entrance, where they don’t bother to replace burned-out lights on the neon signs. Is there anything sadder than that?!

The LA Times reported last year that the city’s oversexualized adult amusement park vibe is losing its allure, and Las Vegas tourism is down. On my return ride to the airport, billboards promoting a “virtual reality blitz,” implying the reality of Vegas isn’t dizzying enough, cast veracity to this claim.

Boarding the plane with many of my fellow SHOT Show attendees lightened my disenchanted mood. I felt safe and happy to be among humble, honest, right-thinking examples of what the male species is supposed to embody. Ironically, I was seated beside an extremely effeminate guy who could have been the poster-child for the LGBQT movement. He was flamboyant and gay – in the original sense of the word – and the gun nuts, who had about as much in common with him as James “Mad Dog” Mattis has with Elton John, engaged him in pleasant, at times silly banter, and treated him as they would a hunting buddy.

These are good men. And their love of guns, knives, thick steaks, beer, and the latest releases from Realtree doesn’t make them “toxic” at all. On the contrary – everyone I met was a stalwart, solid American male – polite, responsible, dutiful, informed, and thoroughly enjoying themselves, despite being in Vegas.

This article was originally published by The American Conservative.

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