I’m a feminist. I’m not going to shy away from the struggle for gender equality in any sense of the word.
This means I spend a lot of time hanging out in feminist spaces both online and in the rest of my life. But feminist spaces, especially spaces that are dominated by women, tend to forget that gender based insults are harmful to the goal of gender equality, no matter who it’s directed at.
Feminists frequently get too comfortable making jokes about fragile masculinity and male tears without realizing that such jokes contribute to the harmful gender roles that society expects men to fulfill.
It’s obvious that women face harmful gender roles, but after a lot of intense activism it’s becoming more and more acceptable for women to embrace masculine things and still identify as women. But fragile masculinity exists because men have not had the benefit of activists for fighting for their right to be feminine, so when men present, behave, or participate in traditional feminine things, they face backlash for not being masculine enough or their sexuality is questioned. This is rooted in sexism (women are inferior so for a man to do femme things is to stoop) and homophobia, but making it acceptable for men to fall outside the caricature of masculinity should still be a part of the feminist agenda, which is why we should not make gendered jokes of any kind.
For true equality, it’s going to take a lot of work, and I understand humor as a coping mechanism for the gendered power structures, but we also need to be aware of how our jokes fit in the power structures we seek to eliminate.
It’s not wrong to use humor to cope with oppression, but it is wrong to prop up patriarchal power structures in the process.