[M]asculinity and femininity aren’t inscribed in our genes the way eye and hair color are; they are to a large extent cultural constructs, ways of seeing, ways of thinking, ways of acting that we learn from parents, peers, and, increasingly, the media — hence the insecurity many men feel about their masculinity, and the ease with which advertisers are able to play on these insecurities to make money.
Talking about these constructs as constructs can help us to free ourselves from aspects of masculinity and femininity that are toxic or unnecessarily restrictive.
The #MasculinitySoFragile hashtag, like the Buzzfeed article that got the conversation going, broaches the subject in a funny way, telling guys that, yes, it’s ok to buy yourself a pink shower puff for $3 instead of shelling out twice that much for an Axe Detailer Shower Tool that looks like it came straight out of Gears of War.
So, naturally, the hashtag was quickly flooded by antifeminists and anxious men who saw the whole thing not as a deconstruction of the sort of toxic masculinity that’s making them anxious in the first place, but as an army of evil feminazis calling them a bunch of wusses.
Not realizing that the feminists were talking about the surprising fragility of cultural definitions of masculinity, the critics of the hashtag assumed the feminists were accusing men of being fragile. I don’t know the last time I saw such a colossal outbreak of not-getting-the-point.
David Futrelle on fragility.
To be fair, I did kind of think that shower puff looked awesome.
Though I also like that Dove has apparently brought out a competing product,1 also called a “shower tool”. Because “puff” isn’t manly enough, or something. Even though “shower tool” sounds like the sort of item you buy from a shop on the internet that delivers in unbranded boxes with discreetly named shell companies as the return address…
- “Competing”, given Dove and AXE are two product lines from the same company. [↩]