Harry Styles is human perfection. He is insanely handsome, incredibly talented, and an all around amazing human. The musician recently graced the cover of Vogue magazine (the first time a man has been on the cover) and people have feelings. On the cover, Styles dons a light blue Gucci confection of a dress. Reactions to him wearing the frock are largely ecstatic, but of course, there are haters. The loudest and most vocal being conservative pundit Candace Owens. After the Vogue feature’s release, Owens took to Twitter to complain, claiming “There is no society that can survive without strong men.” As if Styles wearing a dress somehow undermines his masculinity. It’s 2020, time for these narrow-minded views of what is masculine and feminine to end. Strong men can wear dresses too, obviously.
Candace Owens is one of those Black women who has become a shill for the alt-right. It’s worth noting that until maybe three years ago, she was critical of Trump and the right. Then seemingly overnight, she’s one of them. So now she touts her ignorance and idiocy for the whole world to hear. Clearly she likes to drum up controversy, especially when she knows it will rile up her rabid supporters.
The real question here is what the fuck is a “strong man?” Like, does she think that every hetero woman wants to be with the guy on the Brawny paper towels? Do women really want to only be with men who look like Dwayne Johnson? If you’re going to make the claim about “manly” men, then you better have specific examples of what you mean, because clearly we are all working off of different definitions here.
A quick Google search shows that her own husband is a pretty generic looking white guy. So what authority does she have to say we need “strong manly men”? She’s literally married to the human embodiment of Wonder Bread. Harry Styles is a god among men, so maybe she needs to get her facts straight.
It’s not even like Harry Styles is the first musician to experiment with clothing. From David Bowie to Prince to even Kurt Cobain, male musicians have worn more “feminine” or gender bending clothing for a very long time. The amount of lycra worn by Bowie as his alter ego Ziggy Stardust is plentiful. And Prince rocked the hell out of a purple jumpsuit and heels. Freddie Mercury oozed masculinity and still dressed like a harlequin jester. Harry wearing a Gucci dress is hardly revolutionary.
Toxic masculinity is a very real thing. The Good Men Project defines it this way:
“Toxic masculinity is a narrow and repressive description of manhood, designating manhood as defined by violence, sex, status and aggression. It’s the cultural ideal of manliness, where strength is everything while emotions are a weakness; where sex and brutality are yardsticks by which men are measured, while supposedly “feminine” traits—which can range from emotional vulnerability to simply not being hypersexual—are the means by which your status as “man” can be taken away.”
Candace Owens and her followers are perfect examples of what happens when you subscribe to that line of thinking. Their view of what is “masculine” is archaic at best. A lumberjack with an axe and a mustache is no more masculine than Harry Styles in a dress, and that’s facts.
“When you take away ‘There’s clothes for men and there’s clothes for women,’ once you remove any barriers, obviously you open up the arena in which you can play. I’ll go in shops sometimes, and I just find myself looking at the women’s clothes thinking they’re amazing,” Styles says in the Vogue interview.
We’re, thankfully, living in a time where men are trying to redefine what masculinity looks like. They’re rejecting the violence of toxic masculinity. And many are actively trying to be better people. Whether that means tapping into their emotions, or eschewing traditionally male styles of dress. Seeing them actively begin to unpack those archaic views of masculinity is important. Men wanting to be better humans, and embracing who they truly are, ultimately benefits everyone.
But of course Candance and her brethren (which includes Twitter troll Ben Shapiro) don’t see it that way. Unsurprisingly, Ms. Owens manages to politicize Harry Styles and his dress. In a follow up tweet, she says, “In the west, the steady feminization of our men at the same time that Marxism is being taught to our children is not a coincidence.” Join me in saying, what the actual fuck?
How does Harry Styles wearing a dress and some skirts relate to Marxism? What kind of mental gymnastics does it take to land at that conclusion? Someone get Candace an ice pack because I think she pulled a muscle with that reach.
Marxism talks about creating an anti-capitalist society and giving power to the workers. So how does that explain a millionaire celebrity wearing a designer dress? And what does it have to do with a dress anyway? Dresses are not political. And they certainly aren’t Marxist or communist. They’re pieces of fucking fabric people wear so they’re not nude. Why are these people so fucking upset by a man in a dress that they’re comparing it to Communist theory?
But more importantly, why do they feel Harry Styles on the cover of Vogue is a threat to men everywhere? It’s not as if he is going to start walking up to men demanding they join him in wearing skirts.
And what’s the big deal even if they do become normalized for all gender identities? Dresses are hella comfortable. They’re less restrictive than pants, even when they don’t have pockets. Maybe more men should start wearing dresses. Let their junk breathe a little bit more. They’d likely be less grumpy if their balls were free, just saying.
Let me make it clear for Candace Owens and everyone else who has a problem with Harry Styles looking gorgeous and angelic in a beautiful dress. There is no one way to be masculine. Gender is a spectrum and we need to stop telling men that there’s only one way they can be. A piece of clothing isn’t the sole indicator of a person’s gender. And if people begin to understand that, we can start to chisel away at toxic masculinity and literally make the be world a better place for everyone.