Is Fragile Masculinity a Cry For Help?

Alexandra Tsuneta

How to tell if your fragile masculinity stems from real insecurity.

Recently I wrote an article about men who grunt at the gym.

It was both an article rooted in humor, with lines like, “There is no need to grunt while walking, are you grunting while you walk your dog,” and an article rooted in feminism.

Basically, I was calling out fragile masculinity, and in doing so, as usual, I received some negative commentary from men. It was while reading these comments that I realized that these men are both insecure and terrified of not being seen as the proverbial “tough guy”.

One man, in particular, called me weak and told me to sign up for a $10 gym so I can “eat jellybelly’s and pizza” with the other “weaklings”.

Meanwhile, he had to state, in another comment, that I should “save it for somebody who cares”, as if him leaving two comments, reading my article, and being so terrified of being called out wasn’t evidence of him caring already. Honestly, the more comments I receive from men like this, the more I realize how fragile men really are.

I truly believe that the fragile male ego and toxic masculinity are serious cries for help.

This fragility stems from trauma perpetuated by a patriarchal society. If you’re raised believing that you need to be the biggest and strongest and toughest guy out there, then you probably bury all of your emotions and put yourself into a “man box”, as Tony Porter explains in this Ted Talk.

This kind of behavior is unnecessary and honestly, it’s played out. Nobody wants to be with the guy who puffs up his chest, threatens to fight people, and gets jealous if you even look at another man. Nobody wants to be with the dude who says, “no homo” or calls women “bitches”.

Men, listen to me, we’re over it, this kind of behavior is not cute and it never was.

In the end, is this really the image you want to be putting out into the world?

It’s time for men to be comfortable with themselves, even if they aren’t the biggest, toughest, or strongest dude out there; and it’s time for the biggest, toughest, and strongest dudes to realize that it is okay to be soft. You don’t need to bury your emotions, scream at the gym, and call women on the internet weak because they don’t want to hear men throwing weights and grunting on the treadmill while they’re trying to work out.

In fact, men, leaving negative comments about feminism and women in general just shows how terrified of strong women you really are. It is okay, and even good for us to be on equal footing with you. You do not need a patriarchal society to define you, it is time to break away from those traditional and antiquated gender roles and into a better, more proactive mindset.

Masculinity, as a whole, is not negative — but if your masculinity is fragile then it probably stems from real insecurity. If you’re sitting here and asking yourself, “well how do I know if I am insecure in my masculinity”, here’s a handy list for you:

  • If you can’t hug or compliment another man without saying “no homo”, your masculinity is fragile.
  • If you need to be the biggest, toughest dude out there, your masculinity is fragile.
  • If you’re unable to read an article about gender without freaking out, your masculinity is fragile.
  • If you call women “bitches”, yes you guessed it — fragile masculinity.
  • If you police your emotions and the emotions of other men, your masculinity is fragile.

Crystal Jackson wrote a similar article to this one with a more expansive list, you should read it and see if you check off her list, too. If so, your masculinity is probably very fragile.

The point is that it’s time for a change. We can see through the fragile male ego, we can see that it stems from trauma and that the trauma stems from patriarchal society telling you that you aren’t good enough unless you are a “manly man”.

Let me tell you, you are better if you don’t subscribe to toxic masculinity.

I’m scared that this masculine mindset is still a mindset that men subscribe to. I’m scared for you if you cannot read a humorous article about gym grunting without commenting that women are weak. I’m scared for your sons, and the future generations if we cannot teach young boys and men that it is okay to be soft, gentle, and in touch with your emotions.

It’s honestly time that we get rid of this mindset so that masculinity can be positive and not a shitty, negative stereotype. When we say that your masculinity is fragile or toxic, it’s not calling masculinity as a whole fragile or toxic — it’s specifically calling out the type of man that can’t even fathom a woman being on the same level as him. The type of man who calls women weak or beats on his girlfriend or says things like “crying is for pussies”.

As feminists, we want to take down the patriarchal society, and that includes the parts that negatively impact men. It’s time to break down this whole negative mindset of us being “man-hating radical feminists”, we don’t hate men, but we do hate the gender roles that made some of you so damn insecure.

It’s time for you to change your ways, are you with us?

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digital nomad | queer, Jewish, she/they | ☕️ | degrees in sociology and women’s studies

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