As we continue to talk about “new” and “non-toxic” masculinity, it is worth mentioning that, while masculinity’s obsession with avoiding a feminine aesthetic is a symptom of its sickness, masculinity that embraces superficial femininity is not automatically healthy.
A man who wears makeup and dresses can still be a rapist; indeed, the subversion of the aesthetics of masculinity can be used as a tool to reassert one’s power: e.g. I’m *such* a man I can get away with wearing this dress.
The poisonous core of modern masculinity is not about whether you wipe your ass or wear nail polish or take a shower. It’s an obsession with power, status, and, most troublingly, *dominance over other people*.
A “new” masculinity that still embraces the idea that manhood is about “proving” one’s self through belittling or dominating others, about winners and losers, about taking from other people, is a masculinity that is still encouraging its practitioners to cause harm.
To the extent that an embrace of feminine aesthetics signifies that a man has done the work of getting past a fear of being seen as “soft” — or, really, has come to understand that softness is a quality to be proud of — then it’s great.
But if it signifies nothing more than a superficial makeover — well, then we’ve missed the point, haven’t we.
(PS Hopefully this is obvious but I don’t mean dominance as in consensual power exchange, it is possible to be a caring, generous, and even soft person who enjoys dominating a partner in the bedroom, indeed *the some of the best Ds are soft IRL*.)
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