Twitter is frequently a platform for discussions about feminism and changing gender roles for women. Less common, though, are discussions solely focused on men.
This week the hashtag #MasculinitySoFragile exploded. Although it has been around since 2013, it ramped up into a heated online battleground this week when some users began reacting to the tag with a fragile, unironic, lack of self-awareness that played right into the joke.
I challenge any female tweeting unironically with #MasculinitySoFragile to last three rounds against me in a fight. We'll see who's fragile.
— Mech of Justice (@MechofJusticeWZ) September 23, 2015
To be clear, the bio of Twitter user @MechofJusticeWZ reveals an interest in “Fighting corruption in game journalism.” It seems that the famed Gamergate community stumbled across the hashtag after a couple years of its existence and became outraged. Several self-professed Gamergate supporters and men’s rights types chimed in with cries of “hate speech” and “social justice warriors!” (or SWJ, a denigrating term for activists who speak out about causes online).
The #MasculinitySoFragile hashtag used by so called feminist is really a disguise for emasculation
— Rik Bishcoff (@Rik_FIair) September 23, 2015
— I'm Not Google (@DoUrOwnHomework) September 23, 2015
— Steven Crowder (@scrowder) September 23, 2015
As the hashtag began to fill with outraged reactions from feminism-haters, other people chimed in to explain that the tag referred to the concept of masculinity, not about men as a population. More than a few of those tweets pointed out the irony of getting so upset over a tag referring to fragility and an unstable sense of one’s own gender that leads to things like “broga” being marketed to men as a yoga alternative or men worrying that wanting to buy a new iPhone in rose gold is “gay.”
If you are offended by a hashtag about the fragility of masculinity, you are a living manifestation of its truth. #MasculinitySoFragile
— C.E. Little, PhD (@ItsDrLittle) September 23, 2015
#MasculinitySoFragile that men are scrambling to come up with counterpoints to this hashtag and settling for "I know you are, but what am I"
— jamilah (@JamilahLemieux) September 23, 2015
But the original point of #MasculinitySoFragile, which is also the title of a Tumblr, was to call out the way that companies market products to men separately by “manning them up.” The broga/yoga example is just one of many things that have to be overtly masculinized in order to sell the same products to men that are used by everyone else: from chocolate to Kleenex to throat lozenges, there’s an unnecessarily duded-up version of everything.
— Eliel Cruz (@elielcruz) September 23, 2015
— Genie Lauren's #FastLife (@MoreAndAgain) September 23, 2015
— leprosy print (@HEYKAYBEE3) September 23, 2015
Many of the products on the Tumblr are identical to the ones that are sold as gender neutral; there’s not much you can do besides change the packaging to “mannify” laundry detergent. The use of the word “fragility” is a direct barb at how some guys fear being mocked for drinking a diet soda, using lip balm, or eating yogurt, since somehow those actions became feminized in the culture at large.
What may be surprising about the #MasculinitySoFragile hashtag, though, is that it appears to have been initiated by men—like writer Eliel Cruz, who runs the Tumblr. Despite the fact it these critiques of masculinity originated from a man, angry tweets have consistently stated that “feminists” and “emasculation” are the true forces behind the tag.
You mad, bro?
Photo via Wikimedia Commons (CC0)