There is a lot of talk these days about ‘toxic masculinity.’ Making a strong case for the correlation of venom and virility, war criminal Vladimir Putin recently mocked the physique of world leaders who, by rolling their eyes at his shirtless posing, permitted themselves a moment of levity at his expense amid a crisis talk on Ukraine. Meanwhile, COVID-19-rules violating British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, himself a noxious cocktail of mendacity and indiscretion, opined that, had Putin been born female, the invasion of Ukraine would not have happened. Seriously, would the US Supreme court have decided differently on undoing environmental protection if more earth mothers were among the judges?
I thought the claim that toxicity is masculine had been conclusively laid to rest by Lucretia Borgia – or by Margaret Thatcher, at the very latest. That the flip side of our fancies is still deemed to be “another man’s poison” makes me long for gender fluidity, itself a noisome notion to some. Apart from lamenting the bane of binaries, I have nothing further to say here about exposed torsos or the merits of any remarks made by a disreputable Prime Minister. And yet, there is no escaping the everyday – not even in the attempt to retreat into the presumably out-of-date, of pop past its sell-by date, for the sampling of which this journal was conceived.Continue reading “Penwomanship and Poison: The Chianti Flask by Marie Belloc Lowndes as an Antidote to Toxic Masculinity”