Fighting Toxic Masculinity One Boy At A Time

“Dad?”

“Yes, son?”

“Can I go with you to the Dojo? I think I want to learn Karate.”

“Oh? Did something happen?”

He pauses. That’s a clue to me that something did happen.

“No, I just want to learn how to defend myself.”


I’m a proud father. I have two wonderful children, a daughter, and a son, and I often think about the world they’re growing up in a world. A world that on the surface appears different from the one I grew up in but suffers from the same problems of my time. A world that is suffering from a threat so severe that our world is dying from it. I’m talking about toxic masculinity.

I fully believe that toxic masculinity and the patriarchy are what are holding humanity back. It’s destroying our children’s ability to “awaken” into true emotionally mature and competent humans, regardless of their gender.


“We were in the lunch line, waiting to get our food.”

I nod my head, listening.

“And this senior cut in front of us, he was on the football team.”

“Oh? That’s pretty rude of him,” I say.

“Yeah, and I said he should wait his turn and get on the line like the rest of us.”

“That’s fair,” I say, “What happened then?”

“He told me he was going to ‘wreck me’ if I didn’t shut up.”


One of the best things that happened to me in my life was the day I became a father and not just a sperm donor. There are huge differences between a male sperm donor and a father.

A woman becomes a mother the moment she conceives, the moment her body accepts the fertilized ovum and it attaches itself to her body. Once that clump of cells attaches to her uterine wall and her body nourishes it, she is a mother. Always from that day forward.

For a man, it’s a bit different. The moment he becomes a father is the moment he chooses to invest time, resources, and emotions into the child. Whether it’s unborn, born, his genetic seed or not, a man can be a father to his child, the mother’s child, be an uncle, or in general a fatherly role model to boys and girls.

What happened to my son that day showed me that the father of the boy, the one that pushed his way to the front of the lunch line and threatened to ‘wreck’ my boy for speaking up, has failed him.

That father has failed his son. He knowingly or unknowingly raised his son to be a part of the vicious cycle of toxic masculinity. One where boys will be boys.

Boys will be boys. How I hate the phrase ever since I heard it from the parents of a boy that bullied me in grade school.

“Oh, isn’t that what all boys do? Boys will be boys.”

No, boys will not be boys if you raise them right.

This is why the infamous Gillette commercial so resonated with me. I was that boy, the one that was chased and harassed by other boys because of a lame excuse of boys will be boys.

I keep coming back to this video over the years. Why? Because it exposed the root of the problem. We men have been ignoring a screaming monster right in front of our faces. We got so scared that we speak the sacred words of a spell to chase it away, we say over and over again “boys will be boys.”

Except the monster doesn’t go away, it grows quiet with every chanted spell we say, it feeds on those words and grows bigger and more dangerous.

“How did you feel when he said that?” I ask.

“I was angry,” he pauses, “it was so wrong.”

I nod my head, “Go on.”

“Well, what if he decided to ‘wreck me?’ I don’t know how to defend myself.”

“Defending yourself is a good thing to learn,” I say, “Is that why you want to go to the Dojo?”

He nods yes.

I was on Twitter the other day saw a tweet from Aubrey Andrews. I follow her for her sarcastic biting wit and in this tweet, she posted a screenshot from an alleged Tinder profile.

What a sad profile. Sad in so many ways, but above all, I feel bad for this young man. I feel bad because the father figures in his life have failed him.

He’s probably in his 30s, horny, very emotionally immature, probably has problems talking to women, and most possibly on a negative path toward violence.

He feels like this is what life is like, women are there for a man’s pleasure, she needs to conform to some outdated religious requirement of chastity, and the root of all problems are immigrants.

This is a man who has fallen prey to toxic masculinity and the crushing patriarchy, a system that affects both men and women in different ways.

I never knew that it was that system that affected me so negatively growing up and how I was conditioned to excuse it as “boys will be boys.”

I’m here to say, not my boy.

I will shout this from the rooftops, NOT MY BOY!

Then I heard another voice. More men were screaming it from their rooftops.

I’m not alone.

There are other fathers out there that feel the same way. They actively take their time to make a difference, to invest in children through organizations, through Dojos, through the boys and girls in their families, and make a difference.

Being a father, whether it’s your biological seed or not, is a SUPERPOWER. Yes, we can never grow a life inside us but we can guide a life. We can shape the world, be the builders of a new world.

Men can actively father so many children that in the short span of a single generation can usher in a new world.

A world where there is no one is ‘wrecked’ because they asked for fairness. A world where women can feel safe to walk down the streets. A world where boys and girls can be who they are and not be bullied. A world that is built on kindness, respect, and emotional maturity.

We can do this in One. Fucking. Generation.

But we men need to own this. We need to take concrete steps to slay the monster.

But how?


Three months later I sat in the audience to watch my son test for his yellow stripe belt. Testing at our Dojo is always a boot camp style with the instructors yelling at the students, putting them under physical and mental pressure. He completed the test and ‘ranked up.’

Covered in teenage sweat and smelling like one, he smiled at me when the instructor put the tape on his belt.


A handful of men can’t slay this monster by themselves. We need is the majority of men across the world to look in the mirror and say, “It stops with me, no more.”

It will take the majority of men to stop and actively listen, with an open mind, to what women have been begging for us to hear for decades. It will require us men NOT to feel like it’s a criticism directed at them, but to understand the problems and help solve them.

Yes, we will need help from the women in our lives but it’s up to us men to start this.

I’m not here to stop you from still doing your “man stuff.” I’m not here to take away your fishing, your hunting, your boxing, your guns, your race cars, or sports. You know, all the stuff that I enjoy too, but I want to take away the lies we’ve been fed.

I want us men to undo the conditioning that has kept us in the ‘man box’ for generations. I want us to do the hard work of becoming emotionally mature, to see the system that not only holds women down but us men as well.

I want us to tear it all down because we were the ones that built this in the first place. I want us men to partner with women to architect a new world, a better world, one where boys and girls can become whole human beings.


“I’m tired and I think I’ll go to bed,” he says.

“Goodnight son, I love you.”

“Goodnight dad, I love you too.”

Freshly showered and with a belly full of food, I watch my boy climb the stairs to his bedroom. I notice that he keeps getting taller every day, his body is becoming more like a man with every passing week. I think about how he’s growing into a fine young man, a very compassionate and emotionally mature one. He’s light years ahead of where I was at his age.

I think about my nephews and how I came down on the oldest one recently, how I called out his shit one day. I remember how he grew quiet at what I said rattled around inside his head. I think about my youngest nephew, how he’s growing up with a non-engaged father, and how my sister once told me, “you are more of a father to him than his bio dad.”

Part of me is proud that my sister sees me as an important influence on her children but another part of me is sad. Another man is failing to guide, failing to lead where it’s most important, the raising of a new generation of men and women.

I pause for a moment. The words, “It stops with me. No more” echo in my brain as I climb the stairs and go to bed.


Originally published at https://thomasott.io on January 6, 2022.

Let’s Talk About the Vasectomy

Shooting blanks after a vasectomy

The “V” word. I’m not talking about vulvas or vaginas but vasectomies. Here’s the gist of this story, I had one and I’m shooting blanks. My ejaculate no longer has “swimmers.” I’ve surgically modified my body so that I would no longer be able to impregnate my partner (or others).

I snipped myself for many reasons but the big one is that I love kids and I love my partner. I’m a yin-yang guy that is both pro-choice and pro-life at the same time. I believe that a wanted baby is the right baby, and I also feel terrible when a woman has to decide what to do with an unwanted pregnancy — considering a man put that baby in her belly!

My decision was born out of compassion, self-agency over my reproductive rights, my family life, and sexy fluid bonding time.

Making my choice wasn’t easy but the benefits are immeasurable!

How it started

After the birth of our second child, my partner and I had a long discussion about birth control and family planning. We decided that we’re done having kids. We were in our 30’s at the time and having two kids seemed like a good number to have.

…I got a “no swimmer” report…

So we’re done having kids but we like that activity that makes babies. How were we going to stop unwanted pregnancies because both of us are insanely fertile.

I remember the once unprotected session we had that created my son and the marathon sessions that created my daughter. We had been using condoms before my partner’s pregnancy but loved fluid bonding (aka unprotected sex).

We wanted to remain fluid bonded and the simplest and non-invasive way to remain that way was for me to get a vasectomy.

I scheduled a time with a urologist, discussed the topic at hand, and then ended up in an operating room.

While I will spare you gory details, it went quickly and I was able to walk out after the surgery. Granted, there was a lot of discomfort for a few days and I had to refrain from any sexual activity for a few weeks, but it was a small price to pay in the long run.

I’m pro-life in the sense that wanted babies are the best…

After my healing time was over and I got a “no swimmer” report, we were good to get back to the business of fluid bonding.

Why a vasectomy?

I’m pro-choice for you. I believe every woman should have complete autonomy over her body just as I expect that autonomy for myself. Your medical business is your business.

However, I am pro-life. I’m pro-life in the sense that wanted babies are the best. Unwanted pregnancies are painful. It’s painful for the woman.

I could never imagine what a woman has to go through when deciding what to do with an unwanted pregnancy. I can’t imagine her dealing with all the noise in the media today as she tries to navigate to a decision.

It’s something that I never wanted a lover to face and it’s why I’ve always used birth control. I didn’t expect my lover to take care of all the birth control, I took care of that. I didn’t want her to face this type of decision. It’s not the right thing to do. Plus, I wasn’t ready at that time to be a father.

Too often we men expect the woman to be responsible for birth control because she’s the one that gets pregnant. That is a wrong and dangerous way of thinking.

We men often forget how powerful our sperm is.

It takes two to make a baby, you are 50% of the equation, so what better way to take your reproductive health in your hands and bring birth control to the table. Condoms work just fine, provided they’re properly worn and used.

Nature is a funny thing, she gives us raging hormones and bad decision-making abilities (sometimes) to ensure that humans keep having babies.

Look, I get it. Pregnancies happen.

Almost every female friend that opened up to me told me about pregnancy scares, miscarriages, and even having an abortion at some point in their life.

And how did the women get to this state? There was a man somewhere in that equation and his sperm.

No sperm, no pregnancy.

The power of sperm

Look, I’m not saying to men not to have sex. What I’m saying is that we men need to take our reproductive health into our hands.

We men often forget how powerful our sperm is. Yes, women grow life in their womb but they can’t do it without your sperm. That’s a tremendous power, your seed can set in motion the creation of life itself.

This is why it’s so important for us men to take our reproductive health seriously.

Do the women in your life a favor. Don’t put her in a position to make a difficult choice. Be a better partner, lover, or FWB by being responsible for your own reproductive health.

You don’t have to get a vasectomy but at least wrap that rascal if you’re not ready to spawn your demon seed into the world.