An opinion by Dumisani Dube

Defining an entire gender identity in opposition is especially problematic given our increasing understanding of the non-binary nature of gender, and leaves little room for the natural spectrum of emotion. Up until recently, boys and men were shamed for expressing any genuine feelings except for anger. And that’s a terrible message to send to a human being who is capable of experiencing feelings we don’t even have words for. 

At birth everyone is assigned a role to play as soon as they take their first breath and that role is guided by societal expectations. This starts when our clothing is colour-coded according to our gender assigned at birth, blue for boys and pink for girls. What to wear is determined by the private part, and so is how one is supposed to behave. 

Are we ready to have a conversation on fragile masculinity? A culture that defines masculinity in opposition to the female put men in the bind of the polarising position. One Psychologist says that anytime you are in a polarised position, if there is any hint that you might be moving in some way to connect with what you think of as opposite, it’s going to trigger a profound reaction that is based in fear. How many heterosexual cisgender men were triggered when Siv Ngezi introduced Sivanah to the world? Fragile masculinity took over, it brought about the anxiety felt by men who believe seeing Siv in women’s clothing fell short of the cultural standards of manhood. Some even today are questioning his sexuality, forgetting his is an artist. 

Social spaces, family gatherings and workplaces have become toxic environments for queer men as they are expected to behave in a certain manner to prove their manhood and sometimes to fit in as man enough. MonD, the Gay Super Hero sums it up perfectly when he says, “Fragile masculinity is the reason why queer men don’t feel safe, because cisgender men feel the need to perform their masculinity which in turn is fragile.” 

When men actively avoid vulnerability, act on homophobic beliefs, ignore personal traumas, or exhibit prejudice behaviour against women, this contributes to many larger societal problems, such as gender-based violence, sexual assault, hate crimes and gun violence. 

The balls are in our hands, how we want to prove our manhood should not violate the next human being. Grab them with pride knowing you are not hurting or imposing your manhood beliefs on those that have nothing to do with your bruised ego or fragile masculinity. Its toxic!


Model : Siv Ngesi

Images by: Justin Munitz

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