The above hashtag made headlines for all the right and wrong reasons. Its original purpose was to have a frank and honest conversation about the changing notions of gender in general, and masculinity in particular. However, many people on Twitter took it as an affront to men. What did they read? #MenSoWussy? That was NOT the hashtag, and NOT the intention. Anyway, considering the changes in the notions of manliness, why is masculinity perceived so fragile, anyway? Much of this can be blamed on a marketing campaign towards men, to get them to use things apparently not perceived as “manly,” like soap or trail mix. (Seriously? A clean man will more likely get a woman.) But seriously, what is masculinity and why do men need it? More importantly, why did the above hashtag get coined and used in the first place?
Let’s start with the concept of masculinity. What makes a man a man? A man is described as somebody with male sex characteristics. Assuming that my readers know what those are, masculinity is very simple, and very strong. What we are talking about is the connotations of masculine behavior, and nothing else. Masculinity is very undefined, but apparently it means “tough,” “violent” and “not gay.” Of course, when men say “gay,” it usually means “effeminate,” or “like a woman.” (What makes you think gay men are effeminate, anyway? The Birdcage? That is a stereotype.) I’m not including any right or wrong arguments about lifestyle, though. Those do not help the cause of manliness, which seems so threatened by women.
What is so threatening about women anyway? Our emotions? Please do not tell me that men do not have emotions, too. The outcome of any professional sports team’s game can affect morale for a man until the next game, either positive or negative. My case in point: the University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Team had an undefeated regular season, and was on its way to winning the NCAA basketball championship when it was stopped by the Wisconsin Badgers. Of course, the fanfare and camaraderie leading through the season was loud and boisterous. But, when the Badgers beat the Wildcats, the mood was so silent, I felt a societal pressure to change out my UK purse to another one in my bags. My point is, a sports team’s outcome can affect morale around local businesses so much. Please do not say that men do not have emotions; it is just not true. So, what is threatening about women? The fact that we can get you to like us? Well, liking is a two-way street. In general, we like you, too. So what is exactly threatening about women? That is so undefined, I cannot even describe it now. Unless it is the “different” factor, of course. Curiosity and bravery are important virtues which can remedy the fear of difference.
But let me get back to masculinity and femininity. Many feminists regard the idea that masculinity is toxic, but what exactly is toxic about masculinity, anyway? Masculinity is, apparently, the opposite of femininity, because that is the only definition I can come up with. One of the main polarizations of this masculine/feminine divide is where the genders stand on crying. For instance, crying is apparently feminine. Men, according to Jeff Foxworthy, whose viewpoint I can trust on this, have been trained not to cry. See above statement about crying as to why. But the truth is, if men cried a little bit more, I think they would live longer, and maybe as long as women. It is a given that most women live longer than men. In less advanced cultures, the difference is a mere two years, but in industrialized cultures, the difference can be up to eight years. My own experience is that men often encounter health problems earlier as well. For men in the US, the average heart attack risk age is 55; for women, 65. Personally, I think this is relevant because bottling up your emotions, which is apparently masculine behavior, is unhealthy, and therefore, toxic.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not putting down men in general. You are strong, beautiful and self-sufficient creatures which most women tend to love. What I am not fond of is the bottling up of emotions and apparent disrespect of emotions and emotional people in general in the name of strength and toughness. If men can find a safe place to vent their less-pleasant emotions, it would be grand. It would lead to better health, greater understanding, and, let’s face it, living longer lives. We of the #MasculinitySoFragile hashtag users want to help you live long and prosper. So what’s the animosity towards that?
I forgot to add the main point about #MasculinitySoFragile: Truth is, masculinity is only as fragile as you let it be. For example, if your masculinity is threatened by a Pomeranian, it’s pretty fragile. If the little doggie does not threaten it, it’s not that fragile, now is it?