TikTok–a popular social media platform–is notorious for proliferating over-the-top cultural trends that reflect on the mentality of a certain demographic. As a new generation of men dwell on the reality that they lack respect from women, a new subset of TikTok called “reject modernity and embrace masculinity” emerges. Short-form reels featuring fictional characters such as American Pyscho’s Patrick Batemen, Peaky Blinders’s Thomas Shelby, and Breaking Bad’s Walter White are often associated with slang words such as “sigma male” or “hustle mindset.” The entire premise of the concept is designed to empower men to adopt self-respect from practices such as going to the gym and proving their self-worth while rejecting their dependency on women. The trend itself, however, is the portrayal of hyper-masculinity versus hyper-femininity–a dichotomy that exists to level out the playing field of gender expectations. As much as it promotes men asserting traditional values of masculinity, the extreme side of it is admittedly patronizing towards positive femininity. While it has proven too controversial for feminism, I argue that, just like the modern feminist movement, having an over-the-top trend such as this serves as a great equalizer and a positive reinforcement for traditional values.
To address the dichotomy, we must first understand it. Modernity is associated with progressive values of the new feminist movement which depicts women as individuals capable of rejecting traditional gender roles. While on the other hand, masculinity is often associated with traditional gender roles and a rejection of those progressive values. Proponents of the trend argue that modern society has become too feminized, and a return to traditional masculinity is necessary to restore balance. Proponents of this trend insist that men should reject the “soft” aspects of modernity and instead embrace a more rugged, assertive, and dominant masculinity. Critics of this trend see that it is based on a false premise that masculinity and modernity are mutually exclusive. Critics argue that traditional masculinity can coexist with progressive values and that rejecting modernity is not necessary to be a strong and confident man. However, I believe, neither side can coexist because giving up one side means rooting for the opposing side. It’s a conflicting problem that western culture has popularized where both sides devolve from independent thought.
Now, the “reject modernity, embrace masculinity” trend isn’t something that’s entirely new. It is a concept that has been around for some time but has recently resurfaced as a result of high-profile celebrities such as Andrew Tate speaking against woke feminism. Despite claiming that they fight for the betterment of women, many modern feminist have strayed away from the original motives of feminism in the late-nineteenth century. The “reject modernity, embrace masculinity” trend’s purpose isn’t to fight for one side or the other but rather to make a mockery of the opposing side. While both trends encourage the need to fight for something, the goal itself is too fragmented and rudimentary to form a valid purpose. Which is exactly the point. It’s meant for people smart enough to recognize the broken system but have too much self respect to play along. It’s merely an incentive to work against the grain and work towards a greater purpose in the scope of how you define your own values.
In conclusion, the dichotomy of the “reject modernity and embrace masculinity” trend serves as nothing more than an equalizer between hyper-femininity and hyper-masculinity. While it can have a positive impact on men–by providing a sense of purpose and direction and promoting responsibility and accountability– there is certainly no need for it to be taken to the extreme. It’s important to recognize that we can practice traditional values without redefining traditional masculinity.