Hi everyone! Today I am going to teach you about the meaning of the term “fragile masculinity”. It’s become quite a popular term lately, and I for one love it because it sums up so much sexist, unnecessarily gendered bullshit so succinctly.
But what does it mean? Well, basically the term is usually used when referencing products that have been labeled as “manly” or “for men” which really don’t need to be. Typically these products will have dark colours, bold text, larger sizing and imagery that supports that harmful notion that men must be hyper-masculine at all times. These products which can range from such ordinary items as tissues, body wash/loofahs, food and as above, lip balm are typically not gendered at all but there’s apparently money to be made from men who are so panicked by the thought of someone not thinking they’re a MANLY MAN at all time they need pretty much everything to look more masculine. I mean god forbid a man be caught applying classic Chapstick in public, I mean it’s mostly black but WOMEN use Chapstick and that’s embarrassing!
I find the idea of gendering food particularly hilarious. Like the time Donut King came up with the Bronut:
What genius thought this up? Eating one donut at a time (especially those awful, wussy pink ones) is too feminine so how about two lumps of lard covered in sugar together to really re-assert your masculinity!
The problem is two-fold though, because they’re unnecessarily gendering products towards women too, and have been for a long time. Things that absolutely do not need to be male or female because they’re just things all humans use. Some of the things I have seen in real life are ear plugs, pens, shavers, lollies, tools, soft drinks, disposable shavers etc. The extra shit thing is, often these hyper-feminised products come with a higher price tag. Often the product that’s geared towards men is the default while the one in pink packaging with flowy fonts, floral prints and “for her” scrawled across the packaging is the more expensive alternative. It stinks. It’s some sort of ridiculous marketing plot to make more money that society was sucked into far too easily. God knows I’ve bought products that have been labeled as “for her” when I could have gotten virtually the same product for less money. Sometimes the lure of pink is too strong, I guess.
So what the heck can we do about it? I guess the most simple thing to do is to stop buying unnecessarily gendered products. Not just for you, for everyone. Is there a child in your life, be it your own or a friends or family members? Try to buy something gender neutral for their next birthday and help break the cycle before that little boy thinks he needs matte-lip balm or the little girl thinks it’s OK for shaver companies to charge and extra dollar for a product whose only actual difference is that it’s pink instead of blue. Need new body wash? Go for brands that aren’t affiliated with shitty corporations like Unilever (they own brands such as Dove and Axe/Lynx which both target women/men in really crappy ways), I highly recommend Original Source as their packaging isn’t targeted at any gender and its natural, vegan and smells divine. If you need to buy moisturiser or shampoo for a male, get him whatever is on special, not this crap. Basically, just be aware of how products are marketed to you and opt for the gender-neutral options where possible. It’s sometimes hard for me because I fucking LOVE the colour pink, but when it comes to saving a bit of money and smashing the bullshit, patriarchal notion of what women and men are meant to like, I suck it up!
And if you see some ridiculous product being marketed to men that uses matte black packaging, bold text and obnoxious things like guns or naked women as set dressing, please make sure to mock it mercilessly and discourage everyone you know from ever, ever buying it. Because that shit is seriously whack. #fragilemasculinity