This is my first post for my new series titled, “In Defense of.” Nowadays people can way too quick to judge and don’t look into why people think the way they do. If a world view or opinion is not politically correct or doesn’t go with the status quo, people can be immediately written off as ignorant, or bigoted, or evil, or whatever other labels people like to throw.
In this series, I may write about people with who I personally disagree, but I can still strive to understand their side. There is great value in understanding people’s opinions and worldview. It encourages dialogue, and respecting others is an important factor in how we coexist in society.
Without further or due, the person I want to discuss today is Candace Owens, a right-wing political activist, who is currently under fire for her critiques of artist Harry Styles.
Just for some context, Harry wore a ball gown on the cover of Vogue Magazine. While many praised him for blurring the lines of gender, some didn’t. Candace is one of them.
She tweeted: “There is no society that can survive without strong men. The East knows this. In the west, the steady feminization of our men at the same time that Marxism is being taught to our children is not a coincidence. It is an outright attack. Bring back manly men.“
Harry’s die-hard fans came after Candace, and she and her controversial tweet started trending. Celebrities, like Olivia Wilde and Jameela Jamil, defended the singer calling Candace ‘pathetic’ and that Harry was ‘plenty manly.’
Candace took to Twitter again to say the following: “Since I’m trending I’d like to clarify what I meant when I said ‘bring back manly men’. I meant bring back manly men. Terms like ‘toxic masculinity’ were created by toxic females. Real women don’t do fake feminism. Sorry, I’m not sorry.”
However, the term ‘toxic masculinity’ the right-wing activist is referring to was actually coined by a men’s movement in the 80s and 90s as a reaction to second-wave feminism. The movement believed the reasoning behind men’s aggression and frustration was due to the feminization of men, which denied them “the necessary rites and rituals to realize their true selves as men.”
It later gained popularity with feminists over the past few years. The term has since evolved, and the feminist movement uses it as an overall explanation for male aggression and sexism.
According to the Atlantic, conservatives feel as though the term ‘toxic masculinity’ is an attack on manhood itself, especially at a time where male suicide and drug-overdose rates are high. Liberals say the “detoxification of masculinity is an essential pathway to gender equality.”
For me personally, I don’t care if Harry Styles wants to wear a dress or not. It does not affect my life in any way, shape, or form. However, I don’t think Candace Owens went after an individual. She went after a concept that has been perpetuated into our society, relating to terms like ‘toxic masculinity’.
The idea that as a man, being masculine or having masculine traits is a bad thing. The idea that to be masculine is one and the same as being misogynistic and sexist. The idea that traditional masculine traits make all men be aggressive and violent.
A term like this has the potential to put down the other gender. If the modern feminism movement is about equality, they can’t put down men in order to achieve it. Men should not be afraid to be ‘manly’ because it is deemed ‘toxic’. Just like men should not be afraid to have feminine traits or be feminine.
Masculine men have been and are beneficial to society and the world we live in. It is not productive to discredit and make men feel bad for being or wanting to be masculine.
Even if this is not the original intent of feminists, this is how it comes off. As someone who wants to be in the media and the communications industry, the way you word something is extremely important.
I am not denying there are toxic males, but there are also toxic females. No gender is free from criticism: the ability to be toxic is a not matter of being feminine and masculine.
Another term that has gained popularity over the past few years is ‘mansplaining’. This means when a man explains something or talks to a woman in a condescending and patronizing way.
The video I have linked showed a female senator, Katie Gallagher, accusing a male senator, Mitch Fifield, of ‘mansplaining’. He was offended by her comment.
Fifield said in response: “Well, I would suggest senator if you are putting the word ‘man’ of some description of what I’m doing, you’re doing [something] which I’m sure you’re very much against [which] is making a sexist implication about how I’m conducting my role.”
And, I agree. I don’t like the term ‘mansplaining’ either. What is the reasoning for adding gender to the word ‘explaining’? I’ve had many women talk to me in a condescending and patronizing manner. It is a behavior everyone is capable of.
It is a bit sexist to say it is primarily a man thing. This is similar logic to my feelings about ‘toxic masculinity’.
Terms like these can likely drive people away from a movement like feminism. Yes, by definition it is the equality of the sexes and of course, I want this. But, I feel as though modern-day feminism practices something incredibly different than its original definition.
A 2020 Pew Research Center survey revealed only 61% of American women describe themselves as a feminist. These results show there is a disconnect between at least 39% of American women and modern-day feminism.
In the end, putting the other gender down is not going to achieve the original feminist goal of equality. You can also argue Candace should not put down men who are feminine as this is not going to achieve equality either. But, that is a whole other conversation.
Even if I don’t personally care about a man wearing a dress, I understand the point Candace was trying to make. And, it’s a good one.