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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.
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).
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.”
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.
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)
Mary Emily O'Hara is an LGBTQ reporter. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, NBC Out, Daily Dot, Broadly, Vice, the Daily Beast, the Advocate, Huffington Post, DNAinfo, Al Jazeera, and Portland's Pulitzer Prize-winning newsweekly Willamette Week, among other outlets.