There is a sweatshirt that I fell in love with that says: “I am too clumsy to be close to fragile masculinity.”
It’s funny for me because (a) I’m clumsy, I know I fall up and down a hat, and (b) fragile masculinity is something that I regularly face as a writer, open feminist, and participant in the movement # MeToo. This is a sweatshirt that should be hanging in my closet.
But fragile masculinity in itself is far from being funny. In fact, it is part of the toxic masculinity that perpetuates the culture of rape and misogyny. But it is very real, and if you have been accused of having it, consider this opportunity to address it.
Fragile Masculinity Symptoms
So, what are the fragile masculinity Symptoms? They are quite easy to identify. When faced with a problem related to gender or social progress, fragile masculinity tends to manifest itself in one or more of the following methods:
- The declaration of “not all men.”
- The affirmation of “men, too.”
- A feeling of insult in the name of oneself or of all men
- It comes to the aid of unknown men without all the data
- An attempt to act as devil’s advocate or present other sides of the story
- Accusing others of being sexist against men
- An inconvenience to be seen as feminine in some way (example: avoid pink shirts or activities that could be known as more feminine than masculine)
- A discomfort to be identified as a member of the LGBTQ + community (example: declare out loud what you would do if a gay man attacked you, vociferously declaring your passion for women so that everyone can hear it, etc.)
- Clarifying that you are not (a) female or (b) gay when nobody asked
It is important to make a differential diagnosis to determine if masculinity is fragile or if something else occurs. If you have manifested one of the symptoms mentioned above, you probably have a situation of fragile masculinity. Although, sometimes this may just be a temporary situation related to specific personal experience.
For example, he may have said “men too” to talk about his own experiences of sexual harassment or assault as part of the #MeToo movement. Probably he did not want to take anything away from the movement, and he can recognize that harassment and assault are more frequent among women than among men. However, you wanted to draw attention to the fact that #mentoo experiences assault. Maybe you were just trying to relate, empathize and even support the movement, and you had good motives. If so, then you may not have a case of fragile masculinity.
If you have shown one of the above symptoms on more than one occasion, your diagnosis is clear. You have a case of fragile masculinity. But never be afraid! We can all be too sensitive to our gender and problems from time to time, and treatment options are available at little or no cost to you.
Treatment options include the following:
- Educate yourself on gender issues from another perspective
- Educate yourself on broader gender issues, such as race, sexual orientation and other factors
- Listen to understand instead of answering
- Learn to feel comfortable with the traits traditionally male and female that are present in all genres
- Teaching yourself how to worry less about what other people think regarding masculinity, femininity and sexual orientation
- Start a dialogue with someone of another sex, sexual orientation and race about the areas in which we feel uncomfortable or uninformed
- When you are accused of fragile masculinity, take the time to investigate why, and work on that specific topic
Maybe you’ve had a case of fragile masculinity. It is not a character defect; it’s just a behavior that we can address. We all have those. It is not about judging fragile masculinity; it’s about treating it. It is not incurable. In fact, simply recognizing that you have the symptoms means that you are on the right path to healing.