The Flemish sociologist and “gender expert” Katrien van der Heyden caused a lot of attention in Flemish media with her statement that toxic masculinity causes a lot of suffering. Is she right about this?
What does Van der Heyden mean by toxic masculinity?
According to Van der Heijden, the prevailing culture, in which men are expected to be breadwinners, strong, tough and successful, leads to a lot of suffering. Men cannot meet this standard and therefore become unhappy. This manifests itself in socially undesirable, “toxic” behavior, such as drug addiction, assault, and the sexual intimidation (or worse) of women. To make matters worse, they withdraw en masse from household tasks. This toxic behavior in turn stems from so-called toxic masculinity, which mainly affects a “growing number of white, angry, scared men”.  This behavior is also harmful to the man in question. Consider, for example, ignoring medical complaints (a friend of mine died of stage 4 lung cancer for this reason).
“This toxic masculinity is characterized by alienation and violence, unjustified privilege and power. Alienation is the result of a lifelong education to learn to push emotions away, which means that all kinds of violence seem to be the only answers to many questions. Furthermore, toxic men are blind to their privileges in society and are more likely to feel reverse discriminated against by a social movement that demands equal opportunities for everyone. They realize how society is questioning their power and privileges, but mainly experience impotence themselves in a world that is becoming increasingly complex and economically difficult. ” according to Van der Heijden. 
Is this analysis correct?
Northwestern European culture, of which the Belgian and Dutch culture are a part, is characterized by relatively great detachment compared to the human cultural baseline. Putting an arm around a friend, as is normal in Mediterranean, South Asian and African cultures, is easily seen as gay or effeminate. There are in itself good arguments for adjusting this element. Skin hunger is an elementary human need , which single men in particular are short of; the embrace is more common among women. Since, thanks in part to the #metoo movement, any form of physical intimacy between men and women is potentially suspect, only the comradeship embrace remains. Or cuddle with a pet, of course. Ignoring medical complaints is not cool, but rather stupid. If symptoms do not go away, you should see a doctor to have the problem resolved.
As with just about everywhere else in the world with a functional society - the Caribbean islands where single mothers take care of the children cannot really be labeled as such - the man is expected to be the main breadwinner. This has logical, practical reasons. Men are physically stronger. They don't get pregnant, which gives them more time to work. There are also emotional reasons. Unlike women, for whom social relationships and children are usually the most satisfying, the feeling of being needed and useful to men is most important to mental well-being. Work is pre-eminently a means for this. Taking work from a man who grew up in a Western culture is therefore a cruel act. Men are extremely goal-oriented  and aimlessness feels like a death sentence to the average man.
Crime statistics show the most “Toxic” groups of men not from the group of 'angry white men', by which Van der Heyden probably means the ethnically Flemish man who votes for parties such as Vlaams Belang and N-VA, but from Caribbean and Sunni-Islamic cultures . In these groups, violence is culturally honorable.
The privilege for men, if any, is not very great. This is reflected in, among other things, their lower life expectancy and the overrepresentation of men among marginal groups such as vagrants and addicts.
The MGTOW movement and other pro-man activists argue that feminism has gone too far and men are now being heavily exploited, for example through affirmative action and the very one-sided emphasis on women's rights after divorce. There is some truth to this. The life expectancy of low-educated men is stagnating, or even declining, as in the US . Society is increasingly feminized by Van der Heyden's kindred spirits for low-educated men. Talking and consultation rounds are becoming increasingly important. Talking professions already make up the majority of the work. As a result, for many men more and more the fun of their work takes away, where most women love to talk. More and more of their independence, the 'thinking' is taken away and taken over by highly educated managers.
The core problem with feminism is that when women take over a man's duties, there is little left for men. There are also activities in which men are on average better than women, such as professions that require little contact with people, a lot of physical strength, physical courage or focus on one goal. The falling birth rates, now well below the replacement level in Belgium and the Netherlands, also indicate that the working woman is overburdened. The problems are exacerbated as feminist educators impose the anti-authoritarian parenting style. This breeds insecurity in children, which causes them to look for boundaries and thus cause extra stress.
What should be done then?
Men and women both have strengths and weaknesses that are largely innate. When a man is happy to sit at home and look after the children, and a woman to work, they have found a way of living together that makes them happy. Who, then, are others to get involved in? The same also applies to a reverse division of roles. Adult people have to decide for themselves what to do with their lives, if it does not harm others. A better solution is to introduce a so-called educator's wage, to be deducted from the wages of the working partner. This brings legal recognition for the social benefit of raising children. There should also be a tax deduction for people with children, which replaces the single parent allowance. How they then arrange the income and household tasks is up to the family itself.
Since work is an absolute necessity for men, and many women, to feel happy, the priority must be to create meaningful work for the low-skilled. This can be done, for example, by accelerating the energy transition and infrastructural works, resulting in a lot of building and construction work. The Netherlands and to a lesser extent Belgium must prepare for sea level rise.
Violence is taboo in our feminine culture, less so in many other, more masculine cultures. Violence against the weak is a taboo that should in any case remain.
The problem with harassing women is not too much, but too little masculinity. A mentally functioning man has no need to assault women. Instead of turning men into women with a penis, as Van der Heijden wants, it is better to work on more mutual camaraderie and respect for men, so that their self-confidence increases. Sick narcissists, like current US President Donald J. Trump, are the exception, not the rule. These types of men should be treated by a professional. It is not necessary to send half of Belgium and the Netherlands to the feminist social psychiatrist for the sake of individuals whose behavior is strongly disapproved of by most men.
1. Toxic men is a trend in society that causes a lot of suffering, K. van der Heijden in Knack.be, 2018
2. Men more likely to achieve targets if they set goals, University of Leicester Press Office, 2015
3. Tiffany Field, American Adolescents Touch Each Other Less and Are More Aggressive toward Their Peers as Compared with French Adolescents, Adolescence, 2018
4. NJ Baas, Immigration and Crime in Eight Western European Countries - A literature survey, 1998
5. How many homeless people are there in Belgium?
6. A shocking decline in American life expectancy, The Atlantic, 2017