#37: What the 2018 Word of the Year Says about U.S. Culture

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Jen and Liz riff on the Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year and the short list. Last week we talked about gratitude.

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The word of the year is pretty much the complete opposite of gratitude.

What does the 2018 word of the year say about how we treat women, people of color and other marginalized groups? #podcast #toxic Click To Tweet

This episode is definitely a fun take on these words. There are bigger issues at play. What does the word of the year say about how we treat women, people of color and other marginalized groups?

Some of these words show how far we’ve drifted apart as a society. How can we begin to bridge these gaps?

What’s more toxic than spending an afternoon being ‘thankful’ with your family, and then following it up with a fist fight at WalMart on Black Friday.

This episode owes it’s existence to these articles:

Super things we mention:

About Jen McFarland

Jen McFarland Consulting podcast

For over 12 years I’ve tackled business problems and provided simple, powerful solutions. I’ve led 7-figure projects and helped entrepreneurs and small businesses thrive.

I teach women how to build their business, not around spreadsheets, bottom lines, and formulas, but around equity, leadership, mindset, courage, and resilience — you know, the things we are born to do.

Are you starting a business? Confused about how to grow? Check out my favorite business growth tools.

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Transcript: Word of the Year

Hello, and welcome to the Third Paddle Podcast. I’m your host, Jen McFarland. Today we go old-school. We bring back producer Liz from the old Jen [inaudible] days, who is a content creator and good friend of mine and, also, a fellow podcaster. And today we’re going to follow up the gratitude episode with probably the opposite word, which is the Oxford English Dictionary’s Word of the Year, Toxic. And it makes sense, right? Because right after Thanksgiving is Black Friday, one of the more toxic days of the year. And before we talk about that, we’re going to lead in with some of the words that didn’t make it as the Word of the Year because they are absolutely hilarious. All that and more, here on the Third Paddle.
[music] Welcome to the Third Paddle Podcast. Recorded at the Vandal Lounge in beautiful southeast Portland, Oregon. Why the third paddle? Because even the most badass entrepreneurs get stuck up in business shit creek, management consultant Jennifer McFarland is your third paddle. Helping you get unstuck. [music]
So, welcome back to the show. If you listened to the show from the very beginning, you know that we used to go a little more riffy and a little more fun in the beginning, we used to sit down here in the Vandal Lounge– which, hi, Liz.
Is where we are right now. We’ve had some burgers and some salad and we’ve talked things out–
Don’t forget the tater tots.
Oh, yeah, no. Of course, we had tater tots. I’m from Idaho. Potatoes. I mean, really, my Idaho is showing. Haven’t said that on the podcast for a while.
It looks good on you, though. It looks good on you.
It looks good on me, yeah. We’re both wearing our World Domination Summit hats today.
Yup. Yup. Yup. Yup [laughter].
I’m going flat bill. Which, if you don’t wear baseball caps, that means that it has not been creased. It’s totally new school. I’m usually an old-school hat wearer with a crease in the middle. We have posted a selfie of ourselves on the Twitter feed.
We look good.
We look real good. @thirdpaddle. Also, it’s on the Instagram @thirdpaddle. So you can see Liz and I in all of our glory down here in the Vandal Lounge. So I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I love the word of the year. I wait for it. I’m a total nerd. I love doing this. And I’ve been thinking about this word for a long time and how I wanted to talk about it. And then I sat down tonight to record it and I decided I wanted it to be funny.
And the reason for that is the word itself and everything that it stands for, I can either be super angry about it – which I have been for most of the year – or we can have a little fun with it. And I know that you love British humor as much as I do.
Do I ever?
I think you love it more than me, actually.
A little bit more, probably [laughter].
Because it would be–
Well, 50% of me is British. So I feel like a 100% of me laughs a lot at British humor [laughter].
That’s math for you, folks.
And one of the funniest comedies ever to me is Are You Being Served?
So good.
So good.
So good.
AbFab is what everybody goes to, but Are You Being Served?–
No. Blackadder.
So good.
So good.
So when I read through– once again, the word of the year on the Oxford Living Dictionaries website.
So not the dead one?
Not the dead one. The live one.
Got it. Got it.
I was going through and I’m, “Interesting. Oh, toxic. Interesting.” Yes. Follow up to Thanksgiving. Makes sense. People roll over. The next thing they do. They go, they have turkey. They roll over. Watch a parade. Have some football and then go shop for TVs and fight a bunch of people, right? That’s how this works. [crosstalk].
Yeah. I feel like the word Shop is not the right word to be used.
Yeah. It’s more WWE right?
Yeah [laughter].
I always watch it on TV and I’m like, “People actually like do that and stuff. What are you hoping to accomplish? And why are you buying six TVs and then getting into a fistfight in the parking lot?”
Oh, my God, man.
I don’t know. I don’t get it. It’s not my thing and toxic really seems to fit it for me because after I eat I like to sleep and sleep [laughter]. I don’t really need to go shopping at midnight to feel good about myself.
Yeah, I don’t know what that is. I don’t get it.
But I’m also the person that doesn’t like all the Christmas stuff starting now either, so.
Oh, no, no, no. No.
Because it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. So if you’re listening to this in July, you’re welcome. But it’s not quite Thanksgiving and all the Christmas stuff is out and people are ready to go. I’ve been getting the pre- pre- pre-Black Friday. I’ve been seeing ads for Black Friday, but we’re open on Thanksgiving Day starting at 2:00 P.M. and I’m like–
Which is not Black Friday. You’re actually encroaching on Thanksgiving. People should be getting the day off. So I think the whole thing is toxic. And we’re definitely going to talk about that but I would like to discuss the shortlist. That’s the first thing I want to talk about. Some of these are funny and some of them aren’t. So–
So are we going to try to make funny the things that are not funny? Probably not? So then let’s just really hard to make fun of them. So if it’s a serious–
But you haven’t heard all of them but there is one for sure that we can have some fun with as the one that I’ve told you. But there are eight words and when I was going through them I was like, “Oh. What’s that? Oh, that’s interesting.” So I clicked on the article and we are going to go through it now which is the word of the year shortlist.
And by the way folks, Jen has sprung this words on me. I have not seen this list. I have no idea what these words are.
You only know about one of them.
I only know about one of them but that’s only because we– Well, I’ll tell you later when we talk about the words.
Remember when you talked about the words. Yeah. We’re not going to do that work first because we need to build up to that one a little bit. We can’t just put that in your face right away. I think you’ll understand what we’re saying when we get to the word.
When we get to the word.
Okay, so the first one is cakeism. Cakeism.
Cakeism like C-A-K-E-I-S-M. Cakeism. Primarily a word used in the UK. Cakeism is a belief that it is possible to enjoy or take advantage of both two desirable but mutually exclusive alternatives at once. So have your cake and eat it too.
Is now an ism.
Is now an ism.
I like. I kind of like this one. Yeah. So do you know where it came from? Have you heard this one before? I have not heard this word before. This is new to me. I really love it though but it’s an ism so that means it’s a noun. So how do you even use it? Like that’s a cakeism. That doesn’t sound right.
That doesn’t sound right.
Yeah. So let me tell you where it came from. Okay. As you know there’s a thing called Brexit.
Oh, right.
Which for those of you who maybe don’t know. It means England wants to leave the EU. British exit.
British exit.
So in the discussions, there became a rallying cry for the pro-brexit faction of the British government, after the EU referendum, what they want is basically all the benefits of the EU, but to not be part of it. So when the conservative MPs was leaving Downing Street in November 2016, one of the notes read, what’s the model? Have cake and eat it
ah, yes.
And from there came–
Cakeism. I like it because that makes sense. If it’s a political thing, it’s got to be an ism, right? It’s a theory. It’s a philosophy.
I know. But I would feel much better if it was like Sir. Edmond Cake [laughter].
Why is he an Edmond?
I don’t know.
Why can’t he be like a Harold?
Harold Cake.
Harry Cake.
Harry Cake. Right? That’s super cute.
That is super cute.
Harry Cake.
But it’s not after a person. It’s after actual cake.
Having your cake and eating it too. Which I’ve never really understood because let’s be honest here, I’ve never had a cake and not eaten it.
Yeah. Yeah. That doesn’t make any sense to me.
For me, it’s not two things. It’s like, “Oh. I get cake? Okay, I’m eating it.”
I’m eating it.
That’s not separate.
No. I agree.
And it’s actually cruel if it’s separate.
I agree. Although maybe you could have a cake that looks like you. Would you want to eat a cake that looks like you?
Is it tasty?
Fair. Okay. That’s fair. If it’s a tasty cake you’re going to be eating it.
I don’t care what it looks like.
It doesn’t matter if it’s like of your face.
Okay. Okay. There might be some cakes I wouldn’t [laughter].
For the most part, yeah, I’m going to eat the cake.
Okay. That’s fair.
It’s fair.
I like also that for British people to use the word cakeism. So that whole have your cake and eat it too is basically like, “Can you pay me a year’s salary but I’m not going to do any work? Okay. Thanks. Bye.”
Yeah, like from Fight Club.
Where he beats himself up and then [laughter].
The first rule.
The first rule, Jen.
Oh, wait. I talked about it.
So in case you haven’t noticed, we’re not really talking about business much today. Sorry. Can’t be business all the time.
This is the party int he back. You know how Mullett is business in the front and party in the back? You’re getting to see the B side of Je right now. So another use of cakeism is climate cakeism.
Oh, no.
Climate cakeism.
Climate like–
The desire to tackle climate risks while continuing to invest in carbon-intensive assets.
So like I really, really want an Audi, and I’m going to drive it all over the place, but hashtag recycle.
With my recycling [laughter].
On the back.
Yeah. Yeah.
Okay. So on to bigger and better things. Let’s do another one that’s kind of funny. The next one is gammon.
Oh, gammon.
Do you know that?
So, okay. I speak other languages and there’s a not English person in my head saying that means ham.
Oh, yeah.
Like pork products.
Yeah, yeah. That would be true. However, gammon typically used in the UK as a derogatory term for an older middle-class white man whose face becomes flushed due to the anger when expressing political, typically right wing, opinions.
Okay. So his face just looks like a slice of ham.
Okay. There it is.
Absolute [crosstalk].
[crosstalk]. I like it.
So as you can imagine, gammon is a derogatory term.
Right. Why shouldn’t have derogatory terms for old white men? Yes. Yes, please.
You’re just saying it’s–
Fair play, dude.
That is what it is.
Linguistically, the development of gammon has been of particular interest for its use in accountable form like a gammon.
Right. Okay.
Which is unusual to see in the original literal meaning of  and emerging sets. I don’t know what that means exactly, but–
So basically, the word has evolved is the easy way of saying that.
That’s the easy way of saying that. It’s so British.
To put more words in?
Yeah. Well, oh my God. Yes. So I think that on the page for the show notes I’m going to have to post some of the signage from when I went to London last year because I can’t remember what the sign said for yield, but it was three words. And I was, “Are you kidding me right now?” I would not be yielding. I would just be driving by that.
Yeah. It’s not even something like merge. It’s something else. I know what you’re saying.
Yeah. And then there’s mind the gap, which is really cool. But my favorite one is this picture in the shower [laughter]. This is making me laugh so hard. And I think I sent that to you last year, but it was, “Whilst taking a shower one must put the shower curtain inside of the tub so as not to get water on the outside.” This is all in print in the shower. And I wear contacts. I don’t think I had them in and I was squinting super close to the tile and I’m, “Are you kidding me with this right now?”
It’s so British to say one must. Not you. Don’t ever point your finger via words at the person that you’re talking to.
No, no, no [laughter]. I just love the use of the word whilst because we don’t say that in this country.
Whilst showering in your tub, one must keep the water inside at all times.
Dang it. I cannot talk like that. So the next word – we’re going to move on – it’s kind of more serious. But it is techlash.
Can I guess–
You can guess.
–what this means? So tech, obviously, technology. And lash as in backlash. Or maybe it’s with whiplash. So techlash is sort of there’s a new app. Oh my God there’s a new app. What? Huh? There’s a new app. What? So you sort of literally have whiplash by how much technology changes have occurred.
Actually, you had it right the first time.
Oh, backlash? Okay.
Which is a strong and widespread negative reaction to the growing power and influence of large technology companies, particularly those based in Silicon Valley.
So the Google and the Facebook and–
The Google and the Facebook machines.
And the Apple and the– okay.
Yeah. So it is literally technology plus backlash equals techlash.
A lot of it has to do with just this growing sense of power and it’s like a black box. Nobody knows how to get into Facebook and then there’s this huge data breach, basically of all of that information. Plus the Russia interference in the election.
All the bots.
And then noncompliance with GDPR which is now a thing.
It’s a big thing,
That is the General Data Protection Regulation. It means that back in May everybody got a billion emails asking people to subscribe again to all of the newsletters, which I hope you didn’t do. And just to make people mad. But they haven’t really been good about complying and they just pay the fees and stuff. So there is a lot of backlash, issues with data privacy, holes in Facebook, in particular. So don’t take quizzes and stuff. You’re just giving people information about you. And all of that has amounted to techlash, which I kind of like. Okay. So I feel we can talk about this one next because I feel I just recently experienced this word.
Uh oh.
The word is overtourism.
Oh dear, yes.
An excessive number of tourists visit a popular destination or attraction and resulting in damage to the local environment and historical sites and a poorer quality of life for residents. So where I believe that I experience this is Venice, Italy for sure. They’re having problems getting people to even live in Venice, now. It’s almost like visiting an amusement park.
Aren’t they paying people to move there?
They are paying people to move there. And as we were leaving Venice, it flooded, two days after they were building all these platforms and we were confused about what these platforms were for, and then we saw news articles of the platforms beings washed over and people walking on them and all the hip waders and stuff. So eventually Venice will probably be gone, it’ll just be underwater, which is sad because it’s so rich in history and at the same time it is so over-touristed it’s ridiculous. I actually didn’t enjoy it that much because it was wall to wall humans and I don’t do well with that.
I have also traveled quite a bit, and I think that there are some other places that if you want to get to them, you need to get to them because I believe they’re either going to shut them down or limit them severely like Machu Picchu.
Definitely Machu Picchu, that was on my brain.
It’s heavily protected. It was gorgeous. It was one of the most magical, beautiful places I have ever been, I hiked to the top at sunrise with my husband and we watched the mist, kind of clear away and it was beautiful. And then when it wasn’t six in the morning, busload after busload of humans came, and they’re crawling all over everything because it’s not– there’s no gates or fences or anything. So that’s over-tourism bad.
I’m immediately thinking Amazon River Cruises. Or just anything to do with the Amazon River Basin. That’s if it’s not already over-touristed–
It’s getting there.
— it’s getting there. And to be honest, you know, who knows how long the majority of the Amazon Rain Forest and River Basin will even be accessible as it currently is, to be seen, as it currently is.
So, okay, now we’ve had two serious ones so are you ready for another one that’s not maybe as serious?
Yes, please.
Okay. So, the next word is “Orbiting.”
Orbiting. Is this like an extension of “Helicopter parenting”?
Is it a sexual term?
No [laughter] and please do not expand on that. I do not want to know what that is.
Is it drug related?
No, it is the action of abruptly withdrawing from direct communication with someone while still monitoring and sometimes responding to their activity on social media.
Yes, that makes so much sense. So not quite ghosting. Ghosting is literally like, No, I’m done. Orbiting is like, that’s so great for her, like–four months go by.
Like and comment on posts, watch stories on Apps such as Instagram and SnapChat or generally maintain an online presence in the subjects life without any promise of meaningful interaction.
Yeah, okay, I can admit to orbiting.
And it’s also what happens when people are in a relationship, and it ends abruptly. People orbit each other. I don’t know if you have anything funny to say about that, but it’s something that happens.
Well, if I think about orbits, then I think about planets, and then, of course, the funniest planet name is Uranus.
How [laughter] old are we?
I don’t know.
I still laugh at that [laughter].
Every time, every time, I can’t help it, I can’t help it.  you’re welcome [laughter].
So the next word, honestly, I thought would be the word of the year when I saw this on here. And it’s gaslighting.
Oh, yeah. That makes sense.
And I thought it would be number one. So I believe this is actually the second-place word is gaslighting that, actually, manipulating someone by psychological means into accepting a false depiction of reality or doubting their own sanity.
Dear God. If that’s– I mean, the fact that you thought that that might be the word of the year and that it’s the second– it’s the runner-up basically [laughter], second place, what kind of world are we living in right now? That’s so depressing [laughter].
One where people including the highest elected official in the United States shout fake news at people and ban news outlets from the press room. It’s surreal, and–
We keep using that word to describe it, but there’s no real other word that we can use to describe the feeling of like, “I’m living my life and then somebody telling me that’s not real, like a part of my life or what I spend my time on is not real?”
That’s a mindfuck.
Well, the interesting thing about it–
Which is the point [laughter].
So my friend and colleague, Allison Kinnear, who was on the show a couple of episodes ago, she– well, I’ll put a link in the show notes to her gaslighting Late Night Snack. And she talks about it in great detail and how sometimes people are gaslighting and they don’t even know they’re gaslighting. And sometimes I wonder if that’s really what is going on to an extent. I don’t know that people are intentionally doing it. It’s gotten so outlandish that it’s just over the top. So I just don’t know that people are aware that it’s a thing and they’re doing it, but. Yeah [laughter]. So, yeah, I really thought that that would be the number one word. I don’t really have a lot to say about it besides it just being really depressing.
I think maybe not right now, but hashtag homework assignment for me would be to look up where that word came from, why gaslight in particular, why– because we haven’t used gaslight for decades [inaudible].
So gaslighting is not a new word but comes from the 1938 play Gas Light by Patrick Hamilton made famous by the subsequent Oscar-winning 1944 film of the same title starring Ingrid Bergman in which a man manipulates his wife into believing that she is going insane. The title from which the concept takes its name is a reference to the husband’s insistence that the woman is imagining the gas lights brightening and dimming when in reality, this is part of his machinations. So it’s a deliberate manipulation.
But it’s in reference to a gas light that is used–
In a movie.
–in the plot of that–
Of that movie.
–play and movie.
It’s also the name of it. Yeah. Gaslight. So yeah, crazy and it’s kind of the world we live in. It also came about in the UK since– I mean, so the Oxford dictionary is British, so, obviously.
Sure. It’s British. [Yeah?].
It also has to do with the Me Too Movement, discussions on campus culture at universities. I’ve read things also that are gaslighting about that particular issue as well stating that women– the rape statistics are inaccurate and that sort of thing, so.
Which is like a double whammy.
Yeah. Okay. So we are almost to the big word. We have one more. This is not a funny one. And I did not know this word. This is the only word I didn’t know what it was about. So it’s incel.
Oh, yeah.
Do you know what that is?
Yes, I do.
So this came about to my awareness this year after somebody in the news tried to murder or rape or maim a woman or– and basically an incel is a male person who desires female contact and yet [laughter], they are rebuffed repeatedly. And based on these rejections or rebuffs, they grow resentment and hatred and become violent. They want to do violent things towards women is how I understand it.
That’s true. And it didn’t start off that way, though. This is actually pretty interesting stuff. So it stands for involuntarily celibate.
Yes. Okay.
And it actually started in 1997. Somebody started a website called Alana’s Involuntary Celibacy Project. And it was just a place where people could go and talk about how hard it is to date and be involuntarily celibate. And like so many things, the forum became so large that it became just unruly and out of control, and it became something much different from how it had started. So it went from involuntarily celibate to this forced celibacy, withholding sex, and demonization of women, which has resulted in numerous crimes, actually, against women where there’s killing sprees of 10 people, wounding 14 people. There was the Alek – I can’t say his last name – Minassian who drove a van into pedestrians in Toronto.
Yeah. That was the one, I think, that I saw on the news.
Yeah. And there was somebody else named Elliot Rodger who killed a bunch of people and then killed himself, as well. So it’s a very sad thing and this [Alanna?], which is not that person’s real name, actually had to shut down everything and then started a new project based on love because that’s really what the whole thing was about. And so has started something else about love and anger to try and help people curb that anger around involuntary celibacy because it’s such a problem.
Yeah. I think there’s so much about sexual culture that varies all over the world. And I think the sort of subgroups of sexual culture, like incels, I mean, it’s upsetting to see that it’s evolved into something where somebody commits violence or wants to instill hate against women and in others. But this is, at least in my opinion, another iteration of American sexual culture. Western sexual culture, yeah.
Yeah, I don’t find it– it’s not altogether surprising given all of the pressures and the media and all of these celebrities and everything that makes everything so sexualized and what you “should be doing.” And then beyond that, you need to be married by a certain age and this and that and–
What’s normal.
–what’s normal and why are you still a virgin? And all of these things, and–
Oh my God. You haven’t had sex in how long? And you get judged for it. Sure.
Right. And it’s not unsurprising that people would turn to anger and violence. But it saddens me because everybody has a right to develop and love and be at their own pace. And there’s no reason for people to turn to violence except that they’re unsupported. And not everybody has the ability to look at things from backing it up and realizing that everybody’s different and it’s–
From a more holistic perspective.
Yeah. I mean, there’s just so much pressure on people. And it feels so real and so frustrating. And it doesn’t justify it at all. It just means that we spend so much time as a society living in absolutes. And when you do that, then it gets more and more extreme. I mean, I think that’s why a lot of people can’t talk about the issues because it’s so polarizing and then you find things like this, which is also very polarizing. You won’t have sex with me? I hate you. I’m going to go kill a bunch of people who look like you and you. And it has a lot to do with just this way that we’re driving everybody apart instead of together.
Yep. I agree.
And I hope that we can be together more in the future.
Come together. Right now.
So before we talk about toxic, now we are at the word that I texted you because [laughter] I was like, “Oh my God.”
Okay, and backstory.
And? Backstory.
We text each other this often, but didn’t know that it was a thing. Didn’t know it was a word, I feel like [laughter].
Just because I text you an eggplant emoji [laughter]. And before you came back from Italy, I asked for Italian eggplant, so just letting the world know that she provided.
I did [laughter].
But that does not mean that I was talking about BDE because it actually has a short [laughter]–
Shut up.
–[inaudible] [laughter].
Shut up.
Shut up [laughter]. That’s awesome. BDE, AKA Big Dick Energy [laughter], which I didn’t even know existed [laughter]. I’m sorry. I’ve been married for 20 years. I don’t even know [laughter].
I’ve not been married for 20 years. I didn’t know [laughter].
I didn’t know this had made it into the lexicon thing. Thank you, England.
Yeah. Thanks, England. And technically it’s a phrase, right? That’s three words as BDE as a thing. So what does it even mean?
It means an attitude of understated and a casual confidence.
Oh, yes. That makes so much sense.
Doesn’t that make so much sense [laughter]?
The UK would totally come up with this. This makes so much sense because if you need– we all know the opposite of this, which is “I drive a fancy, fast sports car. I wear flashy amazing things, and I need people to notice me. I must have a small penis.” Right? That’s the opposite of Big Dick Energy.
That’s the opposite. Or like the big truck, the big truck.
Yes, giant gas-guzzler.
Giant truck with your huge tires and showboating. Yeah. You get kind of a–
Yes. That’s the opposite of the Big Dick Energy.
That’s the opposite. So it is interesting because they say that it is, in some ways, the opposite of toxic masculinity.
Yes. That makes sense.
Which it makes sense. But [laughter] where it came from is actually Ariana Grande [laughter]. So it’s not even British, right? She’s not British, is she?
Okay. Thank you.
She’s from Florida/Jersey [laughter].
Okay. So she was appearing to comment on the physical endowment of her then-fiancè–
–comedian Pete Davidson. Pete Davidson is 6’3″ with dark circles, exudes Big Dick Energy [laughter], looks evil but apparently is an angel and loves his girl publicly [laughter]. The only wrong thing with him is he’s a Scorpio, but anyway.
Wait. Did she say that?
I’d marry him within a month.
This is an article that was written about Big Dick Energy. Got it.
Yeah. Yep. Yep. No. That’s one of the [laughter]–
Oh, God. So okay.
So it was a comment that Ariana Grande made on Twitter that’s now been deleted. So apparently that gets used, and then it just went poof [laughter]. Just viral, as it should.
Right, as it should because it’s–
It’s Big Dick Energy. Hello.
But it’s not even a hashtag. I mean, it’s just so funny [laughter] that things like that would get just–
Well, we need to start that shit [laughter]. We got to get on it.
Another Twitter used it to eulogize Anthony Bourdain when he died–
Oh, no.
–saying that he was a possessor of Big Dick Energy, which I can see. Right?
Can’t you see him as the opposite of toxic masculinity?
And as somebody who’s just a dude.
A genuine, versatile, learned man.
Yeah but none of those words won.
No, they did not.
The word of the year is toxic.
Totally [laughter]. So ick.
It’s so ick.
It comes from the Latin toxicum, meaning poison. And it’s poisonous. That’s what it’s defined as.
Shut up [laughter].
What? I can’t sing Toxic by Britney Spears?
I don’t even know what that was.
It was a song.
I’ve heard that song, but I did not recognize what you were doing [laughter]. Didn’t even recognize that as a song.
I didn’t want to straight up sing it into the microphone and cut you off and interrupt you.
Okay, so what they talk about are the top 10 ways that toxic was– so what they do to come up with the word of the year is they look at the rise in the number of times that it’s looked up, how it’s been used, its context, both literal and metaphorical, and then they do all the different ways that it’s habitually used. So toxic has a lot of ways that it’s been used that you typically would expect. Like toxic air, toxic algae, toxic waste, toxic environment, toxic gas, toxic–
–toxic substance, and then the top one is toxic chemical.
Oh, okay.
But the ones that are kind of interesting are toxic culture, toxic relationship, and toxic masculinity.
Ooh, honey.
And toxic masculinity is number two.
Toxic relationship is number one?
Oh, chemicals and then masculinity.
Let’s dissect that for a minute now, shall we [laughter]? Well, it’s because there are a lot of toxic spills that happen, there’s a lot of things like toxic waste, and that’s in the lexicon all the time. It just seems to me that the toxic masculinity is probably not.
I think there are more people writing about toxic masculinity. There are more people putting it into the lexography. There’s more in our lexicon now about toxic masculinity, because we’re seeing examples of it everywhere. It’s not just this one friend that everybody has. People, celebrities, politicians, CEOs, there are lots of examples of toxic masculinity. And so I think people are talking about it more. As they should.
Yeah, I think that one of the greatest things that’s happened over the last– getting back to techlash, one of the best things that’s happened is that we have phones with recorders and video and photos and all kinds of things. And so you just can’t get away with it anymore. You can’t have the casting couch anymore, you can’t be the douchey guy at the bar that does all kinds of stuff, because somebody’s going to record it. Just like somebody’s going to record it if you say a bunch of racist stuff. Or if you’re a cop and you’re beating the crap out of a person of color. It should be recorded. And people ask, “Why is there such a rise in this?” And it’s because people aren’t afraid to talk about it anymore.
Yeah. That’s exactly right.
And that’s absolutely what that’s about. Toxic masculinity, the rise in hearing about violence against women and people of color the reason why incel would be one of the words, it’s all because people are not afraid to talk about things anymore. So in a way, it’s good. It’s good we’re talking about toxic masculinity. It’s good because it means the Me Too movement is working [laughter] and people are beginning to see that people like Harvey Weinstein and Brett Kavanaugh and Bill Cosby, that this behavior isn’t always going to be rewarded, and unfortunately sometimes it still is. Because we still live in a society where people think that you need to be able to prove sexual assault 20 years later. Even though everybody knows there’s no evidence. It’s like if you told Brett Kavanaugh, “You need to prove that it didn’t happen,” he can’t do it either. But his toxic masculinity was actually when he got so angry in his own defense. He had some opportunity for some big [inaudible] energy.
He did.
He did.
He really did.
And he chose to go down the toxic masculinity path and pound his fists on the table and be, I thought, very unjudge-like in his own defense.
Yeah. If you hark back to 1991, when Clarence Thomas was being confirmed, very different. Very, very different.
Well yes, but with the same outcome.
Agreed. But I just mean the amount of people who watched it was probably about the same, but it’s a very different conversation that we’re having now, as a culture. When Anita Hill said, “I’m sorry, I need to say something,” she, again– they’re both professors [laughter]. What is up with that, for one? But yeah, no. It ruined her life. And that is still happening to Christine Blasey-Ford and yet, we got to see toxic masculinity at its utmost, in a way, versus Clarence Thomas, who was so buttoned up and never let anything go and just kept it tight, didn’t say anything out of order, did not get emotional.
That’s true. I do think that Brett Kavanaugh, we saw on display his privilege.
Yes, entitlement.
That’s really what that was. It was his entitlement and he has never really been called into question before, was the feeling that I felt. He just felt the whole thing was so ridiculous. You could tell that. And he couldn’t contain himself. And I think at that point, when anybody in authority reacts that way to any sort of critical question or feedback or whatever, when they come back at you with, “That’s absolutely ridiculous,” or, “Why in God’s name would you ask me such a low, baseless question?” or whatever, then it makes you wonder. It makes you wonder. People who can’t handle that type of– it’s not an attack. It’s just a question [laughter]. It’s out of wanting to know what the facts are. But getting back specifically to toxic masculinity, I think it’s really easy– it’s a very easy narrative to say that men are being attacked, but men have been in power positions for literally centuries [laughter] on Earth.
That’s called the patriarch.
It’s called the patriarchy [laughter].
And there’s a difference– let’s just make this really clear and simple. There’s a difference between a system called the patriarchy and an individual person who is male. People who are male or think of themselves as male are not being attacked individually or should not be attacked individually. It’s about the system itself. It’s about the suppression of others who are not male. That’s what should be disrupted. That’s what should be–
That’s true. Toxic masculinity is a byproduct of a system that benefits some and not all. And so you get that entitlement and the toxic behavior comes out of not having your expectations met.
Like gas lighting.
itself [laughter].
Right. I mean, a lot of this is very interrelated when you can look back at it. Cakeism in a way when you want it all.
You want it all.
You want it all.
You don’t want to do the hard stuff.
You don’t want to do the hard stuff.
I will say, and I know we’re talking a lot about this, but it’s the big word of the year. But there are men out there, flawed as they are, like Justin Baldoni who are having conversations about what it means to be a man and helping to redefine sexual culture, rape culture, being able to look at toxic masculine practices in play and combatting them. And how can men get together and actually have conversations around that, so they can understand if– like you were saying before, if people don’t know that they’re gaslighting, but they’re doing it anyway, people who live in the patriarchy and benefit from the patriarchy should be looking at that too. And I think people like Justin Baldoni are doing really good stuff. They’re having the conversations that need to really be had, that need to be deeper and more pervasive.
Absolutely and we need allies to talk about things like that to help us in male, female, non-binary– we need to be able to have those conversations. And then also, it works that way with race as well.
So both of us are white, and we need to be allies with people of color, for people of color and communicate, and educate within our own cohort. And what that means is instead of asking people who are people of color to help us out and explain, we need to start taking that responsibility on ourselves to talk to other people who are white and explain what their privilege looks like.
To call them out when they do something.
To call them out when they do something, and there is such as white fragility. We have to do it with kindness [laughter] because people don’t get it, and I understand that it’s an education process. But we need to begin to have those conversations just like men need to be talking about toxic masculinity. All white people need to start having those hard conversations instead of just recoiling and feeling guilt. That doesn’t help anything. Actually talking about it and trying to understand it is very helpful and beginning to recognize and see things like priviledge are very helpful. I think.
I think that’s how progress gets made.
I do too. And that’s how we begin to escape things like toxic masculinity is by having the men talk about and go, “Wow. That just really doesn’t work [laughter].”
And not just for me but for all of these other people.
For all of these other people.
Yeah. That’s not something that we need to do. And when we begin to work through things like that together then the toxic relationships and toxic culture, all of these things, begin to mend. You got nothing.
I don’t know. That’s a brilliant and lovely and warm sentiment. I think we can all come together right now over me. But we can start to mend the relationships that we have with other people. I think tech lash comes into to. I think if we start having more relationships that involve in-person contact–
Oh yeah, you got to put the phones down. [inaudible] put all that stuff down.
You have to put the phones down. Actually having the conversations about the patriarchy, about the toxicity, about the tech lash, about gas lighting, about in cell, even cakism and big dick energy, how conversations with other people in life in person about all of these words and see what they think. I mean I think that– which is actually what we’re doing right now. We’re sitting here in the same room talking about it [laughter]. We just happen to have microphones in front of our mouths. That’s all.
Well yeah, otherwise it’s not a podcast [laughter]. Duh. So I think that getting back to gratitude, I think that when we begin to recognize and be grateful for all of the things that we have we begin to appreciate things, we begin to love things and we become better leaders through that self-awareness. And that also helps with toxic relationships and getting rid of the– cutting out the toxic parts.
Cut it out.
Cut it out. And helping us to bridge those things that divide us. I think that when we begin to understand ourselves more and we begin to appreciate everything that we have, we become more aware of what others don’t have. And that’s really where a lot of these divides come from is socioeconomic, gender-based, raced-based things that happen that split us up and then you put us all in these little tech boxes where people can troll each other– not control, can troll [laughter]. Act as trolls under the bridge and just yell at people, that’s what is toxic. That’s what divides us. As opposed to what you’re saying which is we sit down in coffee shops and talk about these things that are going on like rational people. And sometimes we have to talk to people that we don’t agree with and that helps a lot too.
Definitely. And it’s not about winning arguments, it’s not about winning them over, it’s just about listening. I think the art of listening to other people is something that needs to be brought back. I don’t want it to die out. I don’t want it to just be something that executive coaches teach people at C-level jobs in companies. I think listening, the art of active listening and really empathizing with a fellow human is something that should be on everybody’s hit list every single day [laughter]. Do a kind thing but also listen to a fellow human. I think it could be as simple as that sometimes.
I totally agree. I think the more we sit with our difference and in our discomfort in a rational listening manner the better off we are as a society. Because when we respond with our instant anger then we’re no longer listening. We’re actually forming our opinions the entire time the other person is talking or we don’t talk to the other person at all or we put ourselves in these very extreme corners on social media where we’re never around people who disagree with us. And that’s what divides us as well. And we need to begin to sit down and have conversations that are difficult. I’m from Idaho. I have so many friends and we don’t agree about everything and we still have a hell of a lot of fun and talk to each other because we’re humans and we’re civil. And we believe in listening to each other and talking about things.
And we want the best for our fellow humans.
Exactly. That’s the bottom line. I mean if I want to have a fulfilling, happy life then I should want it for the person sitting across the table from me.
Absolutely. And that my friends is how we begin to turn the tide on toxic. And I really hope that next year’s word is something better.
Happier [laughter]. We’re done. [music]
Thank you for listening to Third Paddle podcast. Be sure to catch every episode by subscribing on iTunes. To learn more, check out our website at www.thirdpaddle.com. The Third Paddle podcast is sponsored by Foster Growth, LLC. Online at www.fostergrowth.tech.
Thank you for listening to this week’s show and for indulging us as we undertook a little bit of fun by going through the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year. If you’d like some behind the scenes content and some general wit and wisdom, please follow us on Instagram at ThirdPaddle. We are also on Twitter at ThirdPaddle or you can find us on the website at www.thirdpaddle.com. Thanks for listening

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