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Bring back manly men… or not


On Nov. 14, 2020, Candace Owens, a well-known Republican author, tweeted out in response to Vogue magazine’s edit of Harry Styles wearing a dress. The tweet was aggressive stating that the feminization of men should be considered an ‘outright attack’. She finishes the tweet with, ‘Bring back manly men’, a phrase that sparked a controversy over social media. 

Twitter post by Candace Owens on November 14, 2020, criticizing Vogue Magazine.

The tweet (as shown above) is a modern representation of toxic masculinity and the effects it can have on a society. Toxic masculinity is used to describe the societal pressures on men to act a certain way, more commonly in a masculine way. 

In response to Owen’s tweet, Styles’s fans and his celebrity friends, such as Olivia Wilde and Zack Braff, took up arms to rebut her statement. Styles later posted photos from a recent photo shoot on Instagram with the mocking caption, “Bring back manly men”, demonstrating that strength does not come from clothing choice. As a fan, it was a powerful moment that showed that you don’t have to be aggressive to stand up for yourself.

Instagram post by Harry Styles on December 2, 2020.

As a last hoorah, Owens tweeted not only that she is non-apologetic, but also that “Terms like ‘toxic masculinity’, were created by toxic females.”

Twitter post by Candace Owens on November 16, 2020, defending herself against backlash.

Something that she either fails to understand or refuses to acknowledge is that toxic masculinity is not just the expectations of a man’s choice in clothing. Toxic masculinity is the belief that to be manly consists of homophobia, sexism, aggression, domination, and strength. It is the belief that a straight, strong, and domineering man is superior to women and those who do not conform to what they consider masculine. 

Toxic masculinity can lead to dangerous consequences, some as severe as rape. This toxic masculinity can be seen today in some male teenagers. Most young men are taught that ‘boys will be boys’. This is a dangerous concept as it leads to the justification for physical altercations and rapes. 

Toxic masculinity in high schools creates a social hierarchy where strong, masculine athletes are considered ‘popular’. These students sometimes receive special privileges. For example, a HR football coach being more concerned about an athlete’s football career than his illegal activities, and then that coach driving the athlete’s car full of paraphernalia off campus minutes before a canine drug search.

Not all male high schoolers get this sort of privilege. If they do not conform to the expectations of masculinity, then they face the consequences. They are teased for being skinny, and weak, and having not kissed a girl, and dressing feminine, and acting ‘gay’ and being gay and being weak, and for crying, and for being emotional, and the list goes on and on. 

These expectations harm not only our society as whole, but more importantly the men that have become victims of it. Young men can not express themselves without fear of degradation. An anonymous junior boy said, “Dressing feminine or how you want to is hard because you get teased for it.” 

According to SAVE.org, suicide among males is 4x higher than among females. This is due to the fact that males are more intent on completing the act. Men are more likely to keep their emotions to themselves and struggle alone because that is what they’re taught, according to the BBC.

In an article titled “Why more men than women die by suicide” published by the BBC, Colman O’Driscoll, former executive director of operations and development at Lifeline, an Australian charity providing 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services, said,  “We tell boys that ‘boys don’t cry’. We condition boys from a very young age to not express emotion, because to express emotion is to be ‘weak’.”

This circles back to the expectations we hold young men to and the dire consequences that they have, such as the appalling high percentage of male suicides. Men should not be taught that they can’t express emotion or that they can’t wear dresses. They should not be held to harmful expectations like the ones that teach people that men don’t experience mental illness. 

So no, Candace Owens, please don’t bring back manly men, at least not the ones you are referring to. 

By Isabella Bogo, staff reporter

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Bring back manly men… or not