A frank conversation (and rant) about fragile masculinity and how it often turns into unfounded hatred.
( Cosmopolitano Model / Unsplash )
After a long day at school, you decide to go out with your friend. Suddenly, some hopeful YouTubers approach you with their phone cameras on. As you eat soggy fries from the mall’s rundown food court, these YouTubers shove the microphone end of their phones in your face and ask you and your friend a question: “gay son or thot daughter?” Before you tell him that you just don't care that much, you see your straight male friend burst into sweat and start hyperventilating. He sprints off like he just found out he’s the father on a new episode of Maury.
Although these crazy ass videos were hilarious when they were trendy (about two years ago), this audio clip made me think about the very nature of this question. In a way, the question format almost makes it seem like you are picking the lesser of two evils. We could talk about how so many of these incestuous men pick “thot daughter” so they can have sex with them (bitch I know…). However, we’re going to instead focus on the more general issue that is fragile masculinity and why, for so many men, the idea of homosexuality or female hypersexuality is repulsing.
Fragile masculinity is a unique topic because, even though there is a definition, the concept is a fairly new conversion and there are many intricacies to it. Although the word is fairly self-explanatory, it can be defined as a “...anxiety felt by men who believe they are falling short of cultural standards of manhood.” The issue with this concept isn't that this sense of anxiety or fear exists, but rather how these men act upon it. These men tend to humiliate or belittle others who express themselves differently from what society expects to try to reclaim or reestablish their lost sense of stereotypical masculinity.
In the traditional sense of the word, masculinity is more sexual, dominant, aggressive, passionate, arrogant, opinionated, loud, expressive, etc. Thus, when a female (or female presenting person) expresses any of these qualities, such as being more sexual, a fragile man feels threatened. This occurs because she is departing from her assigned bracket of “femininity” and is branching out into more masculine tropes.
These same men can also feel threatened by the existence of gay men because they may depart from the “masculine.” Some enter more into the “feminine.” And because of sexism, femininity is condemned. The question remains though: why is another man so fucking bothered and threatened by someone else living their own life? Is this type of man insecure about his own masculinity because, deep down, he wants to depart a bit from the box, too? Are these men upset because, unlike themselves, these gay men and expressive women have the courage to break the norm without caring what society thinks?
Jealousy is a disease.
Homophobia, also known as the fear of having a home, is a direct byproduct of having a fragile masculinity. From personal experience, I am a very likable person who everyone seems to enjoy being around. Yet, throughout my whole life, I’ve only had a handful of straight male friends. I’ve had plenty of female friends and a lot of other gay guy friends, but for some reason, not many straight guys. And no, it’s not because they don’t like me or anything (at least that’s what my therapist says). Rather, they don't want to be associated with me. Yikes.
Let me clarify: not all straight men are like this, but too many are.
It’s a weird experience when you really enjoy someone’s presence and want to be friends with them but their pea-sized brain gives them another idea. To them, it may give the impression that you are trying to hit on them or make them gay (almost as if it's a switch you can turn on after a certain amount of exposure to queerness). It's even funnier when straight guys won’t ask you to go hang out with them, just one-on-one, out of fear that it may look like a date. Or how about the fact that some guys pretend you don't exist when they are with their other friends. And my personal favorite: when you’re aware that a friendship won’t last too long because their fractured sense of manhood won’t be able to see past the whole gay issue. It's almost like a massive roadblock exists in their brain and you can’t jump over it.
Why are these types of men so fearful of being friends with a gay person? Kinda sus to be so concerned with who another man is having sex with. Now, while some people may accredit homophobia as a mask for having homosexual feelings themselves, which is technically true, a fragile man is also more concerned with what society thinks about him and his masculinity than his own happiness.
Another fair point to be made is that not just gay men face male toxicity. In fact, fragile men also tend to ridicule straight men who present themselves with stereotypical feminine features. For example, they’ll bully men who paint their nails, men who wear skirts/dresses (such as Young Thug or Harry Styles), men who shave their legs, men who tweeze their eyebrows, men who wear pink. You get the point.
I do, however, want to emphasize that there aren't just two levels or extremes to this. It’s, more or less, a scale. The most secure men will grab your ass and tell you to call them daddy (they have to say no homo, though). The most insecure men will commit a hate crime when they see a gay person. Most men, however, fall in the blurry in-between. They won’t be repulsed by your existence, but they’ll make sly comments under their breath about you or call you funny little slurs (don’t worry though it's “only a joke”). In a way, it's good that the culture has shifted away from blatant homophobia and hatred. However, this form of hatred now expresses itself in small microaggressions that are mostly dismissed as humor or go unnoticed.
Basically, what this long ass rant is getting to is that, fragile masculinity, when it presents itself as homophobia, derives from the desire to be the perfect stereotype of a man in a heteronormative society. In this desire to elevate their weak ego or erase their insecurity, they often tend to exemplify the qualities of toxic masculinity in being bigoted.
Now back to the real issues in the world: gay son or thot daughter?
Luigi Bencosme is an online writer and producer of the "Shit Going On!" podcast at Rowdy Magazine. When he's not frantically swiping through Twitter or Instagram, he's indulging on an iced coffee while blasting all genres of music. You can reach out to him on Instagram @luigibenc or on email at firstname.lastname@example.org