#MasculinitySoFragile is trending on twitter like a new cut of jeans, and I dislike it.

It is rather terrifying to write about something like this, for fear that, by disagreeing with feminists, I’ll be taken as sexist. This creates a strong desire to just give over and agree. I don’t, and comfort myself with the truth that I have hardly any readership.

Advocates say #MasculinitySoFragile challenges harmful gender roles, puts the spotlight on toxic masculinity, and affirms men who dare to do traditionally feminine things, such as having emotions.

I do not see how it actually does any of that. There isn’t any fundamental connection between what you intend an action to do and what it actually does. 19th century physicians prescribing mercury meant well, but that didn’t make the mercury any less poisonous.

If I may be so presumptuous as to turn the hashtag into a sentence…
Masculinity is so fragile that:
Fathers are willingly rejecting their sons emotionally out of “fear of turning them gay.”
a man wants to commit violence on women, because hashtags.
blood resulting from violence is celebrated and revered, but a naturally occurring biological function is disgusting.
Oh, the irony of men threatening women on twitter with violence over #MasculinitySoFragile to prove their masculinity isn’t fragile.

I like that last one. It gets close to my point. They all seems to boil down to “masculinity is {these evil things}. Also, it’s fragile/weak.”

I do not know how asserting that masculinity in general is composed of {these evil things}, and is, basically, toxic, sexist and violent is supposed to make it less what it’s just been called.

It as if, trying to talk down a man balanced on a moral knife edge, you said, “You know, you’re  a real piece of shit. All your demons, all your mistakes, regrets and dark urges you try to repress, they’re the real you.”

I have heard a lot of people say that no one thinks of himself or herself as evil. A lot of other people have shown a frightful lack of respect for this acknowledged truth by going around calling themselves bad, evil, hard, dangerous, etc. This actually seems to be in large part what #MasculinitySoFragile believes itself to be fighting. One of the more popular tweets of the day was of a man asserting his beating his wife proved his masculinity.

People seem to take a perverse pride in these negative self conceptions. People seem willing to sell their souls for an identity, if that’s what it takes. Almost any identity will do, but it has to be convincing, you need some other people to assure  you it’s really yours.

I suspect a lot of people haven’t seen masculinity defined in any explicit way very often. I certainly haven’t. This has a lot to do with where I’ve pointed the periscope through which I see the world, but I think most of the times I’ve seen masculinity defined, it’s been by feminism. It’s nearly always a negative definition, which makes sense. They’re concerned with what’s wrong.

But I think, rather than destroying or replacing toxic ideas of masculinity (as it intends to) it reinforces them. Tell people, “This evil shit is what masculinity is,” and a lot of them will see it, say, “that’s evil,” and aspire to it.



3 thoughts on “#MasculinitySoFragile

  1. Lover Archetype

    If you study the work of Robert Bly and Michael Meade you will see that true masculinity, the masculinity that was talked about in folk stories and mythology rarely exists anymore for various reasons. From this one could argue that the stereotypical male of the day is not a mature form or the masculine, but a grandiose prince yet to become a king.

    So when someone observes a situation in society where a guy is attempting to fit the mold of the stereotypical male and the observer is calling it masculine then saying it is fragile and weak, have they really observed masculinity?

    I would argue not. True masculinity, like true femininity, is something that commands celebration when it is in it’s truest from. Does night mock the day? Does light create hastags for the make fun of darkness?

    1. I have not studied the works of Robert Bly or Michael Meade. But I am not very much interested in the idea of a natural masculinity. Even if there were such a thing, a consistent way of being suited to the basic conditions of life the species evolved in, that still just comes down to biology telling me how I should best be myself.

      Whether it’s culture, God or nature, my only response to being told I should act a certain way, not because of the impact on others or myself, but just because I’m “supposed to be that way,” is belligerence.

  2. Great post. I think you’re absolutely right and this is a big problem right now. Masculinity is a stereotype, a generality of qualities we typically associate with males: strong, stoic, aggressive, unemotional, etc. No male is 100% masculine, just like no female is 100% feminine, but we’re vilifying masculinity and that’s unfortunate. There’s nothing wrong with being male or with being masculine. The problems happen when boys feel pressured to fit into some idealized mold of masculinity. It’s unrealistic and creates a host of problems. We need to get better at valuing complete men in whatever shape they come.

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