“Vape Culture” is a new term that a lot of people aren’t necessarily familiar with. It essentially highlights the culture of vapers, or people who vape, which can vastly differ from person to person. Someone might have a vape culture within their friend group that is highlighted by respectful people keeping their vapour away from kids and animals, and especially from those who don’t want it near them. Some vape cultures are sitting around with your friends and seeing who can blow the biggest clouds. The vape culture I’m referring to here is the one most represented online and in media; the culture of men who evangelize vapes, and exclude non-vapers, primarily women.
What the hell is toxic masculinity, you dirty feminist?
Yeah guys, surprise surprise, a young, university educated woman working at a vape shop is a feminist. I feel like that’s a pretty normal thing to be. But this isn’t about me.
Toxic Masculinity can be defined as basically the idea that men have to conform to certain gender roles, including in social circumstances, and are restricted to showing emotions strictly typical of a “manly man”, I.e. anger, or dominance. Keep in mind, this form of masculinity is prefaced as ‘toxic’ because it’s not a great way to be, and most feminists are advocating for men to be able to freely express their emotions as they please, without restriction or the confines of being dominant in a social situation (so long as they aren’t hurting anyone or themselves).
Now that we have that out of the way, I would like to make a point of saying that while most people who vape are men between the ages of 25-30, more women are actually willing to quit smoking and do so by using vapes. So what’s stopping them? The ‘boys club’ that has become known as vape culture.
Shouldn’t women just vape if they want to?
Theoretically, yes. Realistically, it can be really difficult to insert yourself into a world you’re unfamiliar with, especially if that world has such a massive lack of female voices. It’s incredibly important for anyone seeking out options to quit smoking to have a community they feel welcome in, and that just isn’t the case when a particular demographic is rarely available or recognized within that community. For women, it can be very intimidating to walk into a vape shop with a bunch of men and ask questions without instantly feeling small.
The air of toxic masculinity that surrounds vaping is insane. Luckily, I have had the privilege to meet some amazing guys that work in the industry, but not everyone is so fortunate. There have been numerous times that men have talked down to me, or treated me as if I have no idea what I’m talking about literally as I stand behind the counter working in a vape shop. This mindset has to go, there is no reason for men to feel they have to dominate the conversation about vapes. Does it really impair you to simply include woman as equal parts of vape culture?
But, I definitely know more than her!
Pro tip bro: if she’s working at a vape shop and you aren’t, you probably don’t.
Pro tip #2: even if you do know more about vaping than an employee at a vape shop, there is a way to have an equal and interesting conversation about vapes without you plowing over what she has to say to offer your own opinion.
Mutual respect and open conversation are key to breaking down the barriers toxic masculinity creates. It’s okay if she knows more about vaping than you, she’s meant to if she works there. It’s also okay if you know more than her, but don’t take that and run with it. There’s a huge difference between educating and mansplaining.
The end goal is to make friends, and make sure everyone is included in their journey to quit smoking. Just don’t be a d*ck about it, don’t blow smoke in peoples faces, be respectful, and don’t come to vaping with that know-it-all arrogance. Be open to learning, and be open to teaching in a healthy and kind way.
Thanks for reading and, as always, leave a comment for me!
Do you recognize toxic masculinity in vape culture? Do you think this entire blog is kinda whack?