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Fragile masculinity: What does it mean? Does it exist? What can you do?

After the article about “toxic masculinity” it’s time to address the next “fun” term that is thrown out about masculinity sometimes. That term is “fragile masculinity”. What does that mean? Is it something real? And if it is, what can you do about it? Keep reading to find out.

You might also like this article; It’s OK to be a Masculine Male.

What does “fragile masculinity” mean?

To start off, what does it actually mean? That would be pretty useful to know what we’re talking about.

Let’s look at some examples of the phrase being used;

So, there are two explanations for the phrase “fragile masculinity”

The first way to describe it: “Anything a man gets upset about that has loosely to do with masculinity.”

Although after some thinking I think I came up with something a bit more official sounding.

“When a person’s masculinity is fragile, it means that they are (alleged to be) insecure in their masculinity. Usually brought to light by wanting something more masculine or denying something that they perceive to be not masculine (enough).”

I think that’s a definition the users of the phrase could get behind.

Now what is it really?

Product branding

Most of the things that are given as examples of fragile masculinity are very superficial. Product branding for example. The existence of products that are marketed towards men are used as an example of fragile masculinity.

That’s just companies trying to sell more products. Just like there are millions of products that are marketed towards women, there are some products that are marketed towards men. Does the existence of female branded products prove that women are insecure in their femininity? No, it doesn’t.

They’re just a sign of companies trying to make some extra profit. Also, some product formulations might actually be better for men.

Ego attachment

There are some men who are very “sensitive” towards everything having to be manly. There might be some insecurities those men have.

Many people have an image of what they are. Their ego is what they are. Their ego has a certain image in their mind. If anything disturbs that image, these people feel personally attacked.

This doesn’t happen only with masculinity however. I’d say that’s a very small percentage of where people feel some ego damage and act on it.

There are many more people things people will get very upset about that are just purely ego driven. Material possessions, victim status, religion, skills, opinions, etc. It’s because people feel a sense of self-worth because they have any of those things. If you criticize any of those things it feels like a personal attack.


Many men feel like masculinity is and has been under attack for a long time. Once people get the feeling they’re under attack, they tend to get defensive. That means that some men feel very sensitive about being “forced” into things they perceive as being feminine.

If that feeling and reaction is justified I’ll leave up to you for now.

Is it a real thing?

Yes, there are men who are overly sensitive to all (perceived) attacks on their masculinity. There are people that think every little thing has to be masculine or…..? Following those little rules are not making you any more masculine.

If you are masculine you’re more likely to do those things but, it won’t really work from the outside in. If you’re doing masculine things in the woods all day, you might want to buy a flannel shirt. Buying a flannel shirt while you are just playing scrabble all day isn’t going to make you more masculine.

I do have a problem with the phrase “fragile masculinity” however.

The phrasing does something very insidious.

Using the phrase “fragile masculinity”, makes the fragility part of masculinity. In my opinion that’s not correct for the following reason;

The problem

Sure, there are people who are trying to find their masculinity in the wrong places and making fools of themselves in the process.

The problem with the phrase is that it’s being used in a malicious way. It’s used in a way that tries to make all masculinity look bad. Many of the examples of fragile masculinity are being used to show that all men that are trying to be masculine are pretty much like ridiculous cavemen.

It’s used in a way that tells you everything masculine you like (or vice versa), is admitting you’re insecure. If you’re already a bit insecure, you’re afraid to be seen as insecure. So that means you will avoid anything that is perceived as masculine. This results in people not discovering what “real” masculinity actually is.

It distracts from what masculinity actually is. Portraying it in such a way that many people think they want nothing to do with it.

What can you do about it?

I’ve been writing a series of articles about the “Masculine Mindset”. One of the articles is about not giving a F***. That’s one of the most important things you can do. Change your mindset. This might not be the most important thing in the world you want to focus on.

If someone calls your masculinity fragile, take it with a smile and just make fun of it. Getting angry or upset about it only proves their point and will make the situation worse.

Here are some things you should consider;

1.     Don’t be an idiot

Be a little pragmatic. Not everything is an attack on your masculinity. Maybe sometimes it doesn’t matter who your product is branded towards. Don’t overreact when you see something that’s marketed towards one gender or the other. Just see if it’s a product you need and if it helps you reach your goals.

2.     Pick your battles

Sometimes you might feel attacked in a certain way. Sometimes it’s really an attack, sometimes it’s nothing. Even if you think you’re really being attacked, you don’t always have to go to war immediately.

Most of the times there is nothing to gain from starting a fight or discussion. If this is the case, just avoid whatever it is you think is “attacking” you.

A few times there might be something big that is worth fighting for. In that case, go for it. But be prepared, and go in level headed. Also, don’t go into “battle” with the argument that you have to defend your masculinity. This is not going to be effective and might even cause further harm.

You might argue about the results of certain things and that is why you don’t like it. Masculinity in itself is not something to be defended as a position.

3.     Realize what masculinity is

Masculinity is not the superficial things “fragile masculinity” usually get judged on. Masculinity is a mindset and certain character traits. Masculinity is not the things you buy.

Sure, what you wear and what you look like is part of masculinity. This should be more of a result of your masculinity than a source.

Being masculine might influence what you buy. The other way around, not too much probably.

4.     What YOU want

Think about what YOU want. Not what you want because you’re masculine. The “masculine” thought shouldn’t be the first thing going through your mind.
It should be “me”.

What do you like? What is good for you? What will get you closer to your goals? Those are some questions you should be concerned about. Not, “is this masculine enough for me?”

This is a shift in mindset some people will have to make. In the long run that change in mindset will help you much more in life however. Doing your own thing is more masculine than worrying about superficial things anyways.

Read more about the Masculine Mindset here (Click)