It’s the toxicity, stupid

It’s the toxicity, stupid

My good friend Jess sent me a message asking how much she’d have to pay me to write about a tweet my old bud Charles Adler wrote about Pierre Poilievre’s disastrous polling among women. 

You know me, I can’t resist a good bargain.

Charles says that during his half-century as a professional communicator (and a damn fine one he is, too) he only worked for “one company that was indifferent to its failure to connect with women. It went broke.” 

That’s Sun News, of cursed memory, as I’m sure you guessed. Though to be exact, the parent company of Sun News, Quebecor, is doing quite well. It’s just that one particular project that went belly-up not just because it didn’t care to connect with women but that sure was a big part of the equation. This is a world ruled by advertisers and they know who makes most household buying decisions. 

As someone who was at the fancy table in the ballroom of the Chateau Laurier when the person whose idea it was talked Quebecor’s big boss Pierre-Karl Péladeau into giving it a go, and having spent two very long years working at that station, I feel I can say more than most about it. 

It’s not the conservatism that women fail to embrace. It’s the toxic masculinity. Toxicity was in the driver’s seat at Sun News and the same is true of the Conservative party of Pierre Poilievre. As we say where I’m from, there’s no need to go looking for noon at two o’clock (I swear it makes sense in French), the answer is simple, clear, and very loudly in your face. 

Toxic masculinity is not something everyone understands. One of the easiest ways to spot a carrier is to look for someone who denies its existence. They typically do this by calling you a snowflake. 

Someone can reek of toxicity and not be a jerk in their own life. The reverse is rarely true, as most toxic persons seem unable to keep their mouth shut even when you ask them repeatedly, using very short words, not to share with you their beliefs about “they” being a plural pronoun and their objection to the infamous but elusive gay agenda. 

That’s where toxic people congregate the most, by the way, in the anti-gay swamps. They positively cannot stand the gender diverse. They feel it’s a personal insult to them or something. 

They’re also in groups that are racist, antisemitic, anti-science and anti-reproductive rights. If the mere sight of stated pronouns in your email signature prompts someone to climb the drapes, to use another lovely Quebec expression, you have yourself a prime specimen of toxicity. 

You don’t need to be especially observant to have noticed that the convoy occupation we had last year was Toxic Central. Is there anyone here who remembers Sun News who seriously doubts it would have been on the side of the convoy? 

I didn’t think so. 

Carriers of toxic masculinity aren’t always men, by the way. You’ll find some supporters among women. The cynic in me would like to say that it’s probably due to the fact that these women have worked extremely hard at being exactly the kind of woman who would succeed in a toxic world, mostly by being their husband’s faire-valoir, but maybe I shouldn’t assume that’s true for every one of them. Some are no doubt stupid. 

You’re right, I’m nicer when I’m cynical. 

Regardless, it is absolutely clear that the vast majority of women — and, I scream to add, people like me who don’t identify as women but who’ve had to deal with more than enough toxic masculinity to smell it from 10 miles away — can’t stand it. This group includes a lot of wonderful men, too. Perhaps (one dearly hopes) the majority of men. Because they know society is better when everyone can live their life according to their own priorities and on their own terms. That’s why they not only have to fight toxic masculinity, they have to shred it and set it on fire too. 

That means voting against it. 

We saw it in the midterms in the United States, where Republicans (now controlled by the most abject carriers of toxic masculinity you can find) got a nasty wallop at the polls. That abortion ruling, just by itself, probably caused half of that swing. It made it very clear to anyone who cares to live in a society where all genders and orientations are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, that staying home meant condoning toxicity. So they got out and voted. 

I don’t know Pierre Poilievre personally and I don’t know what he believes in his heart about LGBTQ rights and the equal rights of women, among other things. But it doesn’t matter. He became Leader of the Official Opposition primarily due to the suppo