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A Confession and Heartfelt Apology
And a desperate plea for the editors of Bartlett's Book of Quotations to Update their entry on the term "Tonic Masculinity"
I must offer a confession1 and a truly heartfelt apology to those I have offended and wronged with my words (as the woke Marxcissists have taught us, offensive words are “literal violence” and are therefore bad, though literal violence is good and beautiful because it is the “voice of the unheard,” such as oppressed elected officials of color). Yesterday, I was informed via an angry treatise, cataloguing my own and several other substackers’ sins, that I am a third-hand term stealer.
Some of you dear readers are no doubt clutching your hearts and gasping in disbelief, whilst the more innocent among you are probably confused and wondering aloud, “What exactly is a ‘third-hand term stealer?’” Well, keep reading, and I will explain. The truth may shock you, so make sure your children are not present while you read this. You do not want to corrupt their young and impressionable souls with the contamination of our mortal sins. You do not want them growing up to be . . . THIRD-HAND TERM STEALERS!!!
Here’s the sad story of how I became a third-hand term stealer. A few months ago,used the term “tonic masculinity” in a substack post and in a group chat that I was a part of. He encouraged others of us to write our own takes on this theme, which I eventually did after a group of us appeared on ’s RealFemSapien podcast. In my essay, I credited Jay with the term, as I thought that it had originated with him. It turns out, this term was the sole and exclusive intellectual property of one , who is quite irate that it was used without her permission, and to add insult to injury, used in a way that she considers to have been the “Twisting of Tonic Masculinity,” so she is now demanding every subsequent user of this term give her credit for inventing it or, failing that, to cease and desist immediately from the use of her term in any and all written, verbal, or telepathic forms of communication.
Accordingly, I wish to apologize to Ms. Coraggio for this digital larceny and give credit where credit is due. I also would encourage Mrs. Drummond to digitally insert a hologram of Ms. Coraggio retroactively into that podcast episode, and I will pay this aggrieved wordsmith all of the royalties that I have personally received from my own use of this term on this (as of now) free substack as damages.
I will also be looking up the publishers of Bartlett’s Book of Quotations or their lawful successor (probably Google) and writing to them to request that they amend the entry for “tonic masculinity” to reflect Ms. Coraggio’s authorship of this term. With any luck, I will be able to get this historical record corrected before future generations grow up believing that this term originated with Jay Rollins. “He who controls the past controls the future,” wrote George Orwell in 1984. We cannot have the likes of term-stealers like Jay Rollins controlling our future by rewriting the past!
In my defense, I can only say, as Flip Wilson once said, “The devil made me do it!” It had to be the devil. After all, the Bible tells us that the devil cometh only to steal and to kill and to destroy, and that he is the father of all lies. From the words of holy scripture, we can therefore conclude that the devil is also at the root of any third-hand term usage, such as mine.
Moreover, let me add that just as the saying is true that if you sleep with the dogs, you wake up with fleas (I would like to give credit where credit is due, but cannot definitively source this proverb), so too, if you hang out online with third-hand term users, you will quickly become a third-hand term user yourself! You have been warned!
For Ms. Coraggio, this must have been a harrowing journey. Not only did I and my fellow panelists on Mrs. Drummond’s podcast plagiarize this term, and not only did the mysterious and shadowy substacker Jay Rollins use it without her permission, but others, much more fiendish and cleverer than any of us could ever dream of being, have stolen this term and passed it off as their own.
How fiendish and clever? Well, one crafty and cunning individual known as Philip Carl Salzman purloined it, and to disguise his theft, he traveled back in time to May 2019 and published an essay, under his own name, with the title “ToNic Masculinity!” Then, he took it one step further: in his essay, he credited another individual, (no doubt part of his secret global cabal of term-stealers) who goes by the name of Janice Fiamengo,2 with using the term before him! How clever!
Ms. Fiamengo (if that is indeed her name) then participated in the cover-up by retroactively posting a video on YouTube, which she then made private, so we are unable to inspect it to find telltale clues (which no doubt exist) that would certainly prove that the video, though cited in a 2019 article, was actually recorded after Ms. Coraggio first used the term in 2022. Very suspicious!
This is obviously a difficult moment for me. I am like a one-hit wonder whose claim to fame is my association with this term. I thought I was “covering” Jay Rollin’s term, but in fact, I was covering his cover. I’m like one of those grungy teenage garage bands from the early 90s that thought they were covering Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks” to the delighted acclaim of their equally grungy teenage girlfriends, but then some wise old matriarch would come by to burst their bubble by letting them know, “Ackshually, you aren’t covering Led Zeppelin; you’re covering . . . MEMPHIS MINNIE!!!” And then their grungy girlfriends would leave them immediately, and their fan-club would break up — though that would be redundant, because their grungy girlfriends would be their entire fan base — and I’m afraid of something like that happening to me now, since I have been publicly outed for using what I thought was a second-hand term, but which actually turns out to be a third-hand term. (And if all of this is confusing to you, imagine what it must be like for me, to learn that I am a third-hand term user!)
Now I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under my feet. All of the fame and fortune that has come my way is now in jeopardy.
Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t recognize me and ask for my autograph. Ever since appearing on’s RealFemSapien podcast — along with , , , , , and (collectively the “Tonic 7”) — I cannot go out in public without hearing someone yell, “Hey, didn’t I see you for like, half a minute, on a podcast, before your piece-of-shit computer started glitching out, but then I saw your super-high-tech substack avatar in the corner of the screen after that? Wasn’t that you? Okay, awesome, I thought I recognized you!”
And then, after the first person loudly points out my identity to everyone around, I get literally mobbed like John, Paul, George, and Ringo at the height of Beatlemania. For several minutes afterwards, I find myself stuck signing autographs, posing for selfies with devoted fans, fending off nymphomaniac groupies that want me to father their next aborted child, etc., etc. It’s all so exhausting, but at the same time, it’s also so exhilarating to be finally living out my secret lifelong fantasy of enjoying rock-star-level celebrity.
And of course, there’s fortune, in addition to all that fame. In spite of this substack being, as of this writing, completely free, I am nonetheless making money so fast, I might get arrested for counterfeiting. I might even have to steal Shane McMahon’s WWE theme song for myself . . . cuz every time I enter the neighborhood Dollar Tree, the cashier be like, “Here comes the money!” And then she starts singing that song . . .
And I be like, “Yeah, baby, I could buy a whole shelf of dollar store3 merchandise, with all the money I be makin'! Or half a shelf. Well, on my next payday, I could buy half a shelf. But today, I could easily buy a quarter shelf of your merchandise. Maybe even a third-of-a-shelf!”
And she looks back at me, smiles real big, and says, “Dig that!”
Believe me, them dollar-store cashiers know which side their bread is buttered on. I’m basically like royalty at the local Dollar Tree.
And it’s all because of my association with the term “tonic masculinity.” Because even though I stated, on Mrs. Drummond’s podcast, that I was more of an example of what not to do if you want to be tonically masculine, and even though I wrote my own essay in the vein of lessons learned the hard way, I have nevertheless, by being in the same cultural space as all these other tonically masculine substackers, managed to pick up some of their positive charisma by virtual osmosis, which literally drips off of me every time I go out in public. So all the honeys be on me like white on rice. But will that change once they learn that all of this is based on an odious lie? That I am actually a . . . third-hand term user?
So to all my fans and admirers and groupies and pen pals and members of my fan club and so forth, I have to come clean with you all: I did not use the term “tonic masculinity” second-hand, as I initially claimed. No, regrettably, I used this term third-hand. And like Mr. Salzman and his band of time-traveling plagiarists who used the term in 2019, I did not give credit to the original wordsmith, Ms. Tereza Coraggio, for inventing the term in 2022.
So I apologize to Ms. Coraggio. And I hereby make my public confession: I am a third-hand term-user. If you wish to cancel your subscription to my substack and withdraw your membership from my fan club, I completely understand.
Shamefully and apologetically yours,
/s/ Daniel D /s/
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Alhough my “confession” is not like St. Augustine’s, nor is my “apology” like Socrates’, I am nonetheless stealing these terms from them and using them quite differently (as we moderns are wont to do).
Guess what?! The first person (as far as I can tell) to use the term “tonic masculinity” is on Substack, and her writing is EXCELLENT! Check her out at:
Although now with inflation, it’s more like the “dollar and twenty-five cents store.”