Vogue Magazine’s latest issue features Harry Styles in a dress. The lengthy profile of Styles has many more photos of the man in an array of skirts, dresses, and other frilly assortments. We are told by various interview subjects that Styles’s crossdressing represents “the image of a new era, of the way that a man can look” and that the pop star is “redefining what it can mean to be a man with confidence.” It is “revolutionary” to see someone who is so “in touch with his feminine side.”
The actress Olivia Wilde goes further. “I hope that this brand of confidence as a male that Harry has — truly devoid of any traces of toxic masculinity — is indicative of his generation and therefore the future of the world,” she says about a guy wearing a blouse. “I think he is in many ways championing that, spearheading that. It’s pretty powerful and kind of extraordinary to see someone in his position redefining what it can mean to be a man with confidence.”
Not everyone is a fan of this supposed revolution. You can count me in the “not everyone” camp. Also Candace Owens, whose tweet on the subject sparked a massive online backlash. She wrote, in response to the Vogue piece: “There is no society that can survive without strong men. The East knows this. 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. It is an outright attack. Bring back manly men.”
The counterarguments to Owens, myself, Ben Shapiro, and anyone else who questions whether we should be “redefining what it can mean to be a man” in this way, mostly have revolved around the theme that we are making too big a deal out of it, and it’s weird that we care so much, and seriously it’s just a dude in a dress what’s the big deal?
This is the tried and true leftist culture war tactic. It never changes. We have seen the same play countless times already. They mock the other side for supposedly making a big deal out of the very thing they were just insisting is a big deal. They throw a parade to celebrate some ridiculous thing or another and then insist that any random straggler who declines to join is a hysterical weirdo whose sin, somehow, is caring too much about it. They present one side of the argument and hope to win the dispute by convincing you that only a freakish loser would bother presenting the other side. They try, and often succeed, in dressing something up as both a revolutionary, world-changing act and a totally banal, normal, everyday occurrence that should barely attract notice. They shout “Why are you looking over here?” right after they just shouted “Hey, look over here.” People who have good arguments don’t bother with mind games like these.
In reality, the fact that Harry Styles himself wears dresses is indeed banal and uninteresting. I would not have elected to publish a 5,000-word cover story on the subject. That was Vogue’s choice, not mine. There is nothing particularly revolutionary or earth-shattering about pop stars dressing in silly outfits, which they have been doing since the dawn of the genre. But the overall attempt by our culture to redefine masculinity and feminize men is important, and is certainly worth fighting against. Different times and places have had slightly different ideas about how men and women ought to look and act. But none have ever declared that men and women are the same and ought to look the same way and do the same things. That is our unique innovation, and the results have already been catastrophic. A society without a clear idea of what a “man” is, and what he does, is a society that breeds despair individually and decay collectively.
It is not that one crossdressing man can have this effect. There have been crossdressing men since time immemorial, as many on the Left have correctly pointed out. But the difference is that crossdressing in times past was seen as bizarre, different, usually done for a laugh. Masculinity was not threatened by it because society’s recognition of masculinity, and respect for its boundaries, is what made the spectacle funny in the first place. In the same way, a guy belching at the dinner table might be funny, depending on your sense of humor, but it doesn’t threaten to destroy the rules of etiquette unless we all start pretending that there are no rules to violate. Then you’ll end up with a lot more burping at dinner, and none of it will be funny anymore. The point is that there is a clear difference between merely crossing a boundary — for a laugh, to make a point, to be a jerk, to get attention, whatever — and erasing the boundary entirely.
When the Left is not doing its “aw shucks what’s the big deal folks?” routine, it will freely admit that it is reaching for the latter goal: to erase the boundaries of masculinity and create a post-gender society where the words “man” and “woman” have no meaning. It can never actually succeed in this task because it is fighting against biological realities which can never be fully superseded. But it can settle for making people disoriented, especially children. It can create an environment where boys are made to be more feminine, and girls more masculine, and neither has any idea who they really are. Confusion is the ultimate objective. And the Left will celebrate anyone who contributes to it, in whatever small way.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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