Masculinity So Fragile Social Media Campaign Questions Gender Roles

There’s a new viral hashtag in town, and it’s a doozy! #MasculinitySoFragile calls out some men’s need to constantly reassure themselves and others of their masculinity and heterosexuality, as well as the tendency by insecure men to resort to violence or attempt to demean women, if they feel that their masculinity is threatened. The social media campaign has lit up Twitter and Facebook.

Folks on Twitter called out corporations attempting to market ordinary products to men (such as “Powerful Yogurt” and declaring that Q-tips are “Men’s Ultimate Multi-Tool”). Real, manly men need manly yogurt and Q-tips, rather than simply cultured milk and a swish of cotton on either end of a stick to rub in your ears after a shower like the rest of us get. Masculinity, as constructed by centuries of myths, religions, writings, and more recently, radio, TV, and marketing firms, needs to be constantly reinforced and reasserted.

Otherwise the man loses his “man card.” Or he becomes a “sissy,” a “girl,” or any number of other insults intended to call into question his precious manliness. Gender equality is still a long way away, so it is important that we keep this discussion alive.

Let me be clear, #MasculinitySoFragile is not intended to insult men, or to put down male-kind in any way. The men who feel insulted by it have their self-concept and identity so tied up in a rigid concept of masculinity that they feel that a call to question masculinity is an attack on them personally. And because the only acceptable response to insult in the world of insecure masculinity is rage and aggression, that’s what comes out.

It’s sad, really, that the people who are the most trapped by the restrictive construct of modern masculinity are the ones who are fighting so hard to defend it.

Photo via flickr by Gabriel S. Delgado C.
Photo via flickr by Gabriel S. Delgado C.

In case you haven’t heard of it before, here’s your Feminist Theory 101 rundown: sex (XX or XY) is biological (although there are feminist discussions that believe that sex is also a construct); gender (masculine/feminine) is socially constructed.

Rigid (and, yes, I am aware that the use of the word “rigid” in an article about masculinity is hilarious) adherence to the socially outlined gender roles is hurtful to both men and women. The hashtag is calling into the spotlight this toxic, aggressive masculinity from the effects of which both men and women suffer.