#MasculinitySoFragile: Gender Norms Then and Now

The fragility of masculinity has taken the spotlight on social media in recent weeks. #MasculinitySoFragile has become a trend to highlight the contradictions and faults of the strict codes of hegemonic masculinity, which is attributed to cis-white hetereosexual men. Black masculinity, though, still follows the codes of hegemonic masculinity, but uses the veil of white supremacy to compensate for the oppressive nature of their masculinity.

Masculinity is fragile. Patriarchy has a tendency to “gender” everything. Dove…for MEN, Nair…for Men, and all normal and everyday objects…for Men. The hashtag was made by Anthony Williams, @ankthoknees, a Sociology student at UC Berkeley.

The hashtag was to shed light on the internalized misogyny and the complexities of patriarchy. The utterance of “no homo,” to stay heteronormative when the conversation would move forward without that fact, shows the fragility.

Many men on Twitter see the #MasculinitySoFragile hashtag as a joke, but it really highlights some scary facts. It interjects domestic violence and rape into the conversation, and explains the violence that men take to protect their masculinity. Calling a man gay is the utmost blow to our ego, so we fight, and that is the problem.

In comparison to the ’70s, masculinity was never this fragile. In the ’70s, men were taking on much more domesticated roles of being in the home. Men were gardening, washing dishes, and even cooking dinner for the family.

Fashion had changed severely. Men were sporting much more bright colors, patterned outfits, and curly hair. Before, everything for men was centered around neutral colors, such as grey. In the ’70s, everything was either tight or polka dot or floral.

Masculinity in the ’80s became very volatile and has been the norm since. Hegemonic masculinity was celebrated in movies like “Die Hard,” “Terminator,” and even black movies like “School Daze” and “Harlem Nights.” Oppressive masculinity does not see color.

Masculinity in the ’80s structured men at the top, sporting their machismo and perpetuated femininity as being weak. It depicted having numerous, heterosexual sexual relations as normal, and a man who had a big physique as acceptable. For blacks, the iconic male figures were Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor; however, androgyny was actually celebrated in black culture.

In music, a man professing his love for a special lady was celebrated. Prince, Michael Jackson, El Debarge, and many other artists constructed a new sense of masculinity.

Now, masculinity can be so fragile to the point that a woman “owes” you sex after a date. Our “forefathers” probably had the same issues with keeping up with masculinity. However, was it really this volatile?


Javon Wilson

Columnist – Opinions



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