Rihanna and ASAP Rocky in front of greenery

Fred Duval/Shutterstock (Licensed)

Rihanna’s British ‘Vogue’ cover draws out the toxic masculinity

Comments about 'emasculation' are predictable but depressing.


Audra Schroeder


Posted on Feb 17, 2023   Updated on Feb 17, 2023, 4:02 pm CST

A few days after Rihanna‘s Super Bowl halftime show, which revealed the singer is pregnant with her second child, came a Vogue cover. It features ASAP Rocky carrying their infant son and holding Rihanna’s hand.

The cover story is about Rihanna, and it’s her first sit-down interview since becoming a mother in 2022. She talks about postpartum life, performing for the first time in seven years, and fighting to keep the paparazzi away from her son. (She joined TikTok last year in an effort to thwart them.) But the cover image is what generated more discourse, at least among men.

“The emasculation of men continues…you can already tell who the man is in this relationship…that dude about to be a proud mother of 2,” wrote @ShadayaKnight in one viral tweet. One commenter on that tweet pointed out the misogyny and misogynoir at play, writing, “Everyone be sure to note how ‘mother’ is used as an insult in these conversations.”

This was largely the framing, from a handful of accounts—ASAP Rocky, who’s been on several magazine covers solo, is somehow emasculated because he’s trailing behind Rihanna, and holding their child. That led to more conspiratorial comments: “There is a whole lot to unpack with this photo here,” tweeted @tariqnasheed. “This is the agenda,” said @RealBrysonGray. And in a follow-up tweet, “They’re emasculating men. Without men leading, society will fail.”

That last tweet is myopic, to say the least, and many of these tweets are obvious plays for engagement, but there was pushback. “I see a thriving Black Family and a supportive partner/father,” tweeted Florida State Rep. Angie Nixon.

And people pointed out Vogue is a fashion magazine marketed to women.

Conversations about masculinity on Twitter typically just go in circles, but a lot of men were reading way too much into this.

But if you actually read the article, Rihanna notes Rocky and their son have an “undeniable” bond, and paints a loving, supportive picture of their relationship.

“I realized that the validation that you really need as a boy is from your father,” she said.

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*First Published: Feb 17, 2023, 2:58 pm CST