WOMEN IN SUITS ARE POWERFUL BUT MEN IN DRESSES ARE A THREAT TO MASCULINITY
Harry Styles, gender norms, toxic masculinity, gender stereotypes, gender fluidity, women wearing suits, masculinity, misogyny, sustainable fashion managzine
Harry Style on Vogue
Some people think that drinking your coffee black with no sugar is manly and masculine, while ordering a pumpkin spice latte with extra caramel and whipped cream is a basic girl's drink of choice. Gender influences how we organize everything in our society including the distribution of power, and the identity politics of your coffee is just the beginning.

Gender refers to the personal and social characteristics of an individual, not their biological traits. The biological traits of an individual are their sex. In understanding that, we can concur that gender is a social construct. Something that western society created and enforced during the colonization of continents around the world. Though these constructs are completely made-up, they affect how we interact with each other daily.

So why is it that women in suits are breaking gender norms and are perceived as feminist icons while men in dresses are a threat to everything masculinity holds dear? The answer: gender stratification. Gender stratification refers to the unequal distribution of wealth, power and privilege across genders and sexes.


A large majority of the world is centered around the patriarchy, meaning that cisgender heterosexual men are at the top, and women are beneath them. Because of this, anything deemed feminine is given less respect than anything perceived as masculine; pumpkin spice latte vs the strong black coffee. So, when an individual who is at the top of the power structure, a cisgender heterosexual white man, decides to wear a dress, decides to wear the very thing that represents the individuals who are "beneath" them, it is undeniably threatening to the fragile structure that is masculinity.

Individuals around the world are constantly looking for different ways to challenge gender norms and, after Harry Styles' 2020 Vogue cover went viral, the commentary and conversations remain ongoing.
Harry Styles, gender norms, toxic masculinity, gender stereotypes, gender fluidity, women wearing suits, masculinity, misogyny, sustainable fashion managzine
American conservative and political commentator, Candace Owens called it a "perversion of masculinity" and tweets that the world needs to "bring back manly men". Other political conservative commentators like Ben Shapiro agreed with her. However, several celebrities like Jameela Jamil and Olivia Wilde came to his defense. "Harry Styles is plenty manly, because manly is whatever you want it to be, not what some insecure, toxic, woman-hating, homophobic d---heads decided it was hundreds of years ago. He's 104% perfect" Jamil tweeted.

Even with the pushback Harry Styles received, it is easier for him to challenge gender norms and be feminine because of the racial hierarchy created by white supremacy. Particularly in a western environment, the amount of privilege an individual has living varies depending on race, sexual identity, size, and able-bodiedness. It is this same privilege that allows someone like Harry Styles to embrace his femininity and be met with more support than criticism.
It is important to remember that, even as the world is moving towards redefining what it means to be masculine, and gender norms are being broken, these cultural identifiers (a man in a dress, a man in makeup, a man wearing nail polish) do not necessarily mean that an individual is not misogynistic and doesn't have anything left to unlearn. A man can wear makeup and still have misogynistic tendencies, a woman can grow out her body hair and wear suits every day but still battle with internalized misogyny.

It is also important to know that redefining masculinity does not have to mean the erasure of masculinity. There is nothing wrong with enjoying things that are traditionally perceived as masculine, however, masculinity has long been defined by how much dominance, power, and control a man has over a woman and that is where toxic masculinity begins. That is what needs to change. And, though reforming the physical characteristics of what is feminine (dresses, makeup, and pumpkin spice lattes) vs what is masculine (strong black coffee, suits, and body hair) does not solve the root issue, it is a step in the right direction.
Harry Styles, gender norms, toxic masculinity, gender stereotypes, gender fluidity, women wearing suits, masculinity, misogyny, sustainable fashion managzine
The next time you see a man in a dress and a woman in a suit, keep these things in mind in order to learn and unlearn.
Article by Malaika Norman