On Nov. 13, Harry Styles became the first man to grace the cover of Vogue Magazine — solo. Styles showed off several outfits that combined both the masculine (such as suits) and the feminine (like dresses). His fashion was met with great praise, as many of his fans supported his use of androgynous fashion.
However, his debut was not met without criticism.
The next day, popular Republican commentator Candace Owens took to Twitter to call out the affair. Her now infamous line “Bring back manly men” has drawn the ire of many — including “Lord of The Rings” lead actor Elijah Wood.
Now, I’m well aware that I am late to the party, but while it is still in the public’s mind, I want to discuss the implications of her ideas.
It’s pretty safe to say the concept of “manly men” means traditional masculinity. This refers to things like acting stoic, wearing men’s clothing, etc. To many traditionalists and conservatives, Styles’ choice to dress androgynously is seen as the heralding of a mass emasculation.
First it was not being breadwinners. Then it was becoming soft and emotional. Now, it’s choosing to wear dresses and makeup. If this is where we are now, who knows what will come next?
Men will no longer be “men.”
Oh, the horror!
But here’s the thing though…
Styles doesn’t represent most men, and most men don’t choose to wear feminine clothing.
In fact, most men don’t even paint their nails.
Why? Well, it could be a number of things. For one, it could be because the average Joe isn’t secure enough in their gender and doesn’t understand how to find that confidence. Or it could be an aesthetic choice — some men just prefer to present in masculine attire.
To me, and many fans, Styles’ fashion choices symbolize a mainstream rise of straight men redefining masculinity. Finding confidence in their gender identity and sexual orientation whilst rocking a pair of six-inch stilettos.
To Candace Owens, it’s the end of masculinity as we know it.
This raises a lot of important questions. Questions like: “What is the purpose of traditional masculinity?” “Is it still functional today?” “What is a positive example of 21st century manhood?”
We’re living in a world where gender is becoming an increasingly complicated and explored thing. Rather than focus on the binaries that have defined gender roles, more and more people are choosing to break them.
My two cents?
Men have been dressing up since the dawn of time. Powerful leaders throughout the ages have ruled in lavish and effeminate garbs. Just because one — one — male pop star finds creative empowerment in femininity doesn’t mean Western civilization is going to fall.
If anything, Owens’ comments are further proof that the current constructs of masculinity and femininity are antiquated, and it’s time to reconstruct gender as we know it.
Men are evolving.
Get over it.