California-based writer Anthony Williams was particularly moved to take on rigid views of masculinity after reading writer and activist Feminista Jones' thoughts on egregious acts of domestic violence against women.
"All I could think about was how at its core, my silence as a man is complicity in the abuse of women," Williams wrote in a blog post.
While men frequently rely on women for support, he added, they often do so without reciprocation. In order to change that, he decided to compile his thoughts under the hashtag #MasculinitySoFragile. He wasn't the first to use the hashtag, but Williams decided to leverage it to continue a conversation "that women — and Black women in particular — have been having for centuries" exposing "the ways in which we, as men, protect other men by not speaking up about the abuse."
On Wednesday, Twitter users everywhere amplified this idea, pointing out the many ways masculinity still restricts men and encourages damaging attitudes and behaviors.
They've tweeted about how easily men men can feel their masculinity is threatened...
How masculinity standards are upheld in marketing...
And how masculinity confers entitlement to others' bodies and offense at being told "no."
While some Twitter users — perhaps predictably — began to push back on the hashtag, their choice to do so, and the personal offense they felt from a hashtag targeting a broader social norm, was the ultimate indication of just how fragile masculinity really is.
Despite this resistance, it's clear a valuable conversation is growing in this space. It's about time.
"We need to put our egos to the side to build with women without them having to be our relative or spouse," Williams wrote. "Our silence is figurative blood on our hands, and I won't have it."