by Ashtar Deza


  • Blog


  • Personal growth
  • Toxic masculinity

A little while ago I was on a very lovely first date with some really nice conversation (some really lovely messing around too, but that’s a story for another day!). During the conversation I said something along the lines of “Pretty much all my friends are queer, and I’m the odd hetero out. Some times I wish I could just become honorary queer and distance myself from all the toxic BS going on with lots of cishet men.”

It was kind of a half-joke, an offhand thing that came up but it kind of stuck in my mind. It didn’t quite sit right with me.

Apparently it has been stewing in the back of my head for a while. A few months back I removed my sexuality from my Fet profile, because I really don’t like “straight” as a term and none of the others felt fitting. Back then I had a discussion with a friend who asked if that meant I now considered myself bi, and I told her it didn’t feel right “declaring” myself bi since I hadn’t shared the struggle. At that point I couldn’t really form a coherent argument about it though.

Today as I was doing housework the two points suddenly clicked together and I’d like to share my insight. So yes, I have had a fair amount of toxic masculinity lobbed at me in my life. Especially being neurodivergent I’ve had plenty of occasions where I’ve been called “not a real man”. I also really don’t like the term “straight”, since it feels very much not neutral. For the Dutch speakers, it feels like “blank” instead of “wit”.

So yeah, queer spaces often feel more welcoming and comfortable to me. Here is the kicker though: I don’t get to opt out of being a white cishet man. I didn’t opt out when it conferred advantages on me. I enjoyed all the privileges it brings in life. This also means I will need to accept the responsibility to make cishet spaces better and less toxic. This means calling out bad behaviour, but doing so in a non-toxic way. Helping other men grow.

Honestly, this is a tough one for me. It basically means extending a helping hand to people that look down on me. But if I’m being very honest I’ve also looked down on them. That’s something for me to work on.

So, I kind of just wrote this in flow of consciousness, so let’s bring it to a conclusion. This may have given you the idea that I hate all my fellow cishet men, and that’s very much not the case. I know loads of really kind and thoughtful men, working hard to get rid of the toxic crap we all get saddled with from our early childhood on. Those are the people I want to spend most of my energy on.

My main take away is though: whenever some guy acts like a toxic asshole I don’t get to roll my eyes and go “Ugh, what an idiot!” (which is validism, but that’s yet another discussion) and dismiss it as having nothing to do with me. Unfortunately guys like that are very much our responsibility and I’ll do my best to step up.