SOPHIA JARAMILLO WRITES — In a tweet that sent shockwaves through the internet, conservative commentator and author Candace Owens jabbed at British singer/songwriter/actor Harry Styles, who donned a dress on the cover of American Vogue- the first male to appear on its cover. Specifically, the tweet reads: “There is no society that can survive without strong men. The East knows this.” What “East,” exactly, is she referring to?
Let us assume that she is referring to East Asian culture. In the context of said tweet, it is implied that strong men do not wear dresses, and that “the East” does not disagree. That is false. Kimonos in Japan are worn by both men and women. Similar dress-like garments are common in both Korean and Chinese cultures, although there are usually some differences in styles for men and women. This does not emasculate men and their inherent “strength.”
We must also consider the East Asian trend of so-called “soft masculinity.” This concept is rooted in Confucian ideals of masculinity and is related to scholarly practices—referred to as wen in China and seonbi in Korea. This form of masculinity features an androgynous appearance. Today, softly masculine men in Korea wear light makeup. Korean Pop idols are a prime example of this.
In truth, many women are attracted to this type of man for his wit and knowledge. In turn, this makes such a man inherently powerful and strong in ways immeasurable by physical strength. For Owens to claim that wearing a dress or appearing “feminine” in appearance or physique signifies weakness-and to suggest that this is a cultural belief of “the East”- is invalid. Nor are such trends unique to the East. May I remind her that the French Bourgeoisie wore makeup, powdered wigs, and high heels, yet their empire stretched far past France’s present borders? Or that makeup was worn by Egyptian Pharaohs, and togas by the Romans? Pick your poison, Ms. Owens.
In a world where gender definitions are becoming more fluid and lines are being crossed, more and more social conservatives feel outraged as pop culture further dismantles the constraints of gender roles in society. Shouldn’t we all be past such thinking by now?
Candace Owens finishes her tweet by saying “Bring back manly men,” when in fact, they have never left. It’s just that some are appearing androgynously, while still very confident in their masculinity. With East Asian cultures presenting men in nontraditional masculine clothing, it’s time, Candace, to open your eyes and look beyond your own horizons!