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Masculinity seems to be in a fragile state, with men going to extremes to protect their neck(beard)s from all that is pink, floral, and otherwise lady-like. So each week, we’ll dive into the ways men are guarding themselves from a feminized society, as we ask, “Are men OK?”
The tragedy of Harambe, the gorilla killed at the Cincinnati Zoo after a child got into the gorilla enclosure, is a sad situation all around, but everyone is looking for someone to blame. The worst blame is coming down on the child’s parents, for everything from not having a closer eye on the kid to not being willing to sacrifice their child’s life for that of the gorilla. And some of the harshest blame has come from men who would totally, 100 percent fight a gorilla and win.
my dad woulda jumped in after me and somehow try to fight the gorilla. I know because military folks think they can do anything.
— keira (@guxcciii) May 29, 2016
OK, men, let’s talk. Harambe was a 17-year-old Silverback western lowland gorilla. According to National Geographic, members of that species stand 4 to 6 feet tall and weigh up to 400 pounds. That might sound like a comparable opponent to a human man, but keep in mind that we are talking about a fucking gorilla.
“Those who challenge this alpha male are apt to be cowed by impressive shows of physical power,” National Geographic continues. “He may stand upright, throw things, make aggressive charges, and pound his huge chest while barking out powerful hoots or unleashing a frightening roar,” not to mention the opposable toes that let it climb all around your fighting space while you’re stuck on the ground.
Like, will you please look at him?
Sorry, the yellow belt you got in fifth grade cannot stand up to that.
I understand that male bravado results in this sort of posturing, especially if, in this hypothetical situation, the man is protecting his child. Though things are changing slowly, a UN study says fathers “are still seen mostly as economic providers, disciplinarians and protectors within their families.” Thus, men’s egos are threatened when they fail at these tasks. We see this when men are upset by women making more money than them and when men refuse to ask for help out of fear of looking “weak.” The manliest thing they could do in this situation is fight a gorilla.
But the issue has also brought women—often moms—out of the woodwork claiming that they would absolutely rip a gorilla to shreds if it threatened their child.
Nobody is OK. Men, women, everybody: Please stop trying to fight gorillas.
Jaya Saxena is a lifestyle writer and editor whose work focuses primarily on women's issues and web culture. Her writing has appeared in GQ, ELLE, the Toast, the New Yorker, Tthe Hairpin, BuzzFeed, Racked, Eater, Catapult, and others. She is the co-author of 'Dad Magazine,' the author of 'The Book Of Lost Recipes,' and the co-author of 'Basic Witches.'