Toxic masculinity has always been an issue within society. This issue uses gender norms to dictate how men and women should act. Through these views, men are prohibited from being in touch with their emotions since this makes them appear weak. However, men being vulnerable and sensitive empowers them. These traits shouldn’t determine if a man is maculine enough or not. If boys would be taught that they can express themselves then they wouldn’t grow up repressing emotions and not being able to communicate. They also would realize that not fitting the stereotypical image of a man does not make them abnormal.
We have seen progress against toxic masculinity through famous artists such as Harry Styles. Recently, his actions of breaking gender norms and toxic masculinity blew up after photos of him wearing a dress for Vogue were released. Styles received praise and backlash for this, which showed how society needs to wake up and realize that times have changed. Men are allowed to wear makeup, dresses, heels, or anything they want. Wearing these things does not make them any less of a man. Contrary to Candace Owens’s tweet that stated, “there is no society that can survive without strong men,” the lack of strong men isn’t hurting society. We don’t need “strong men,” we need men who can express themselves and don’t use their machismo to be assholes.
Owens also stated, “Bring back manly men.” In my opinion, the manliest men out there are the ones who aren’t afraid to break away from toxic masculinity. Her questioning Styles’ masculinity because he wore a dress demonstrates how flawed society still is. If Styles in a dress isn’t attractive to her, good, because he wasn’t trying to appeal to her in the first place. Styles’ actions did not affect her nor did it damage society. He is serving as an example that it’s okay to break away from gender norms. Despite this negative reaction to Styles’ photos, his fans were quick to defend the artist and praise him for not being afraid to embrace his femininity.
Another issue that arose was the fact that Styles isn’t the first one to fight against toxic masculinity. K-pop has been growing it’s presence in America and as they gain more attention, they also gain criticism because of toxic masculinity. Unlike other men, Korean male artists don’t have a fragile masculinity since they regularly wear makeup without a care. Some of these artists have also worn skirts and other pieces of women’s clothing. While Styles’ actions were praised by his fans, these artists are often made fun of and labeled as “girls.” The double standards placed are ridiculous. If you accept Styles embracing his femininity, then you embrace every man who has done it before him. Styles set forth the path for other men to vocalize their fight against toxic masculinity. We hope society can shut up and realize we want to embrace these types of men.