There’s a Difference Between Male Fragility and Male Insecurity
If we’re being serious about reforming toxic masculinity, then nuance and consistency must prevail.
A picture of Dodgers outfielder Kiké Hernández standing on a box during a post-game interview with Kelli Tennant (the cover image) resurfaced on the internet — from a 2017 interview — and was coupled with memes and thinkpieces on “male fragility. This first happened in 2018. Then, it happened again this year. And it will likely resurface again next year.
Memes are powerful. Hell, we get half our news from them now. And they rarely go away. This wasn’t being used as a joke in standup, this was being used in a humorous context to depict a real example of male fragility, such as “Siri, show me fragile masculinity.”
Therefore, if this is being added into the narrative of male fragility, I think it’s important to make some distinctions.
First, I don’t know Kiké Hernández personally. I don’t know the reasons why he does things. All I can go by is what people around him said, including Kelli Tennant herself disagreeing with the negative interpretation-and the context in which these actions exist.
Kiké likes to keep levity in the clubhouse. He dressed up as a banana while rehabbing from injury. He acted like he didn’t know English to play a prank on one of his managers in the minor leagues. He gives extended hugs to his teammates before each game. And he stood on a bucket during an interview.
Instead of looking at this as male fragility here are a few other options: Kiké has a rapport with Kelli Tennant, and this is an inside joke (it is), Kiké was making fun of himself for being short (and, at 5'11,” he’s not; Kelli Tennant is a beautiful 6'2″), which actually demonstrates the opposite of fragility — or, perhaps, Kiké is actually self-conscious about his height, and how it would be perceived, memed, shared, in interviews where a woman is substantially taller, and decided to do this action to create a joking distraction.
In Kiké’s case, from all I understand the latter is least likely, but it’s important to make a distinction here.
Mae fragility would be if Kiké Hernández felt he needed to stand on a bucket and asked the camera person to not show his legs because he refused to do an interview where a woman is taller than him. Male fragility would be him believing women reporters should look a certain way (which is a legitimate issue in both network hiring and fan’s comments). Male fragility would be him believing femininity is tied to height.
Again, I am not in Kiké Hernández’s head. But from all indications based on, his personality, multiple alternative reasons, and the rapport he has with Kelli Tennant, a rapport she attests to while defending his joke, I don’t think this is a good example. And when all that is the case, there no reason not give someone the benefit of the doubt.
This wasn’t likely an example of insecurity, either. But the problem is that it didn’t even seem to be a possibility.
Male fragility is not male insecurity. But they are closely linked.
Patriarchy, leads to gender norms, and gender norms lead to body norms, and valuations of said norms for being more “in line” with a certain gender. gender.
All statistics point towards women preferring taller men. CEOs being tall. People generally prefer taller candidates. Frequently, the most successful, and famous, athletes in MLB, NFL, and the NBA are over 6 feet.
When we were children, the prince is always taller than the princess. Hero always taller than the woman in distress. Hell, even today most drawings, TV shows and movies, commercials, even from progressive outlets, don’t have examples of women being taller than men — or men being around the height of the average woman.
And any athlete who who is below average for his sport, where most sports are literally competitions of male dominance, could have internalized this well.
Among other behaviors men frequently internalize as positives, such as dominance, aggression for conflict resolution, constraining emotions other than lust and anger, leadership (which is not inherently bad), proving masculinity through lots of sex with multiple sexual partners, athleticism, etc., we also internalize preferred physical traits based on these examples in general society. And many of us have personal experiences that suggest our build inferior for sufficient masculinity.
When we internalize this, we get insecure. Just as women can. About their body living up to the standards of desirability for dating, for respect, and in their career (though it should never matter here). Men can do the same.
However, men frequently are not encouraged to express emotions in healthy ways that display vulnerability and hurt. So when some express this insecurity, they express it the ways they know how, and the ways they believe will be most respected and accepted by society, through anger, through dominance over women. Through reinforcement of behavior norms, which, in turn, constrain them for other reasons.
Insecurity leads to fragility. To tender emotional nerves that, when touched, lead to strong reactions — instead of just being felt.
If we cannot make distinctions between fragility and insecurity in men. We are essentially supporting the notion that men cannot be insecure. And when that cannot be a possible expression or option for men they will turn to the only options which have been expected of them.
Ultimately, men and women’s emotions must exist on an equal plane.
Same goes for all genders, identities, and orientations. All must have equal capacity to have insecurities.
Our hurt can be as equally cutting as their hurt. We can feel in the wrong body, or an inferior one, too. We can feel negated and disqualified by the opposite sex, too. We can feel objectified, both with a positive and negative connotation, too.
Things are fragile until they harden. And access and acceptance of an emotional spectrum is the only means to turn fragility and insecurity into durability.
Below are Kiké Hernández’s engagement photos:
Also published on Medium.
Originally published at http://www.letsnotbetrash.com on October 13, 2019.