OK, I used the phrase Toxic Masculinity as click bait. While I understand the point of that phrase, it is so misunderstood (in many cases willfully) that I don’t think it’s worth salvaging. Instead, I prefer the descriptors “immature masculinity” and “mature masculinity.” So, I am going to talk about the Immature Masculinity of The Ten Duel Commandments.
Now, I love The Ten Duel Commandments song, but it is also recalls a time when men did actually duel in order to defend their honor and to avenge slights against their honor. There’s nothing wrong with wishing to live an honorable life and valuing your reputation for good character. But two guys going into the woods and shooting each other is stupid! It was stupid then too. And yet, the rules of society at the time encouraged men to believe that it was acceptable to resolve conflicts through gunfights.
How did the women feel about duels? Did they accept them as a part of the structure of their society and simply a part of the way men behaved? Or did they try to dissuade and prevent the men in their lives from dueling?
How did the men respond if their wives and mothers tried to stop them from dueling? Did they believe as Aaron Burr and Hamilton do in the song, that “duels are dumb and immature?” Or did they view the women’s protestations as an attack on their masculinity?
There is perhaps a little irony in the fact that society now appears to agree with women. Duels seem to have faded into the past. And I think Aaron Burr would have agreed with the women too, based on his own experience.