The “fragile male ego”, a sly inversion


I ran across a post in the men’s rights subreddit that is emblematic of a very common sly inversion: the assertion that women have to coddle men’s fragile egos. This was by way of saying how very weary this writer was of having to explain all this over and over again to bone-stupid men (the trite, old, worn-out Frazzled Adult “Because I’m the Mommy, That’s Why!” pose so familiar to anyone who has ever engaged with a high-minded gender equality warrior) who somehow did not immediately see and accept the absolute truth of the talking points she had memorized in her catechism.

Above all, I’m supposed to butter you up, you men, stroke your egos, tell you how very important you are in the fight for equality.

So she starts with a sly inversion. It’s men who have to walk on eggshells around women’s fragile egos—”Do these pants make me look fat?”—sucking up to them at bars to get them to talk to us, putting up with their shit-testing (this is how women do “negging”—remember all that PUAspeak?), and playing the whole “happy wife, happy life,” “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” diva bullshit.

But according to Princess Clueless, it’s women buttering men up. According to me, it’s snatching oppression from the jaws of privilege.

I am trying to think of all the ways women butter men up. Would it be the way women so often compliment men on how they look, and how loaded a question and fraught a situation it is when a man asks the woman in his life what she thinks of the shirt he’s wearing? Do these pants make his ass look fat? Would it be the way testosterone is reviled as some kind of poison in the standard expression “testosterone poisoning”? We can sit here and develop quite an extensive list of examples of how men’s egos are absolute fair game when it comes to women making cutting remarks, but I think the ubiquity of “what about the menz” both in actual discussions of men’s issues and as a general attitude in society pretty well puts the slam on the question.

And so she starts with a sly inversion and then it continues with another sly inversion:

… tell you how very important you are in the fight for equality.

Is Princess Clueless really so unaware of the actual history of the women’s movement in its whole arc across the decades that she truly believes what she is saying here? Does she really think that women had to fight for the vote the same way that working men had to fight for decent conditions and hours and for living wages? Really? How many suffragettes were shot down in the street and left to lie there? How many Pinkertons and other goon squads were sicced on women’s organizations in those days? The question answers itself.

Who does Princess Clueless think instituted the multitude of programs advantaging girls across academia and in government? Surely if the patriarchy is real and men hold all power in society … But the point is that this line of discussion is pointless with someone like her. Her positions are the effusions of pure id, unconstrained by any requirement to be consistent or coherent or even just not glaringly contradictory—because her position is that women are an oppressed victim class needing to struggle for equality but one that still somehow single-handedly has reversed its oppression in that struggle for equality against an overwhelming male supremacy. It’s self-contradictory in every way but one—it serves her self-congratulatory narrative. Because her fragile ego needs the validation.


Jim Doyle
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<span class="dsq-postid" data-dsqidentifier="4167">5 comments</span>

  • Also the phrase “fragile male ego” rather puts the lie to the notion that feminists want men to “feel they can express their feelings”. Why would we express what they clearly consider to be burdensome to them?!

    • Puts the lie indeed. It’s a classic double bind, which is a control tactic. A man is wrong if he shows his feelings, and wrong if he doesn’t, and since he
      s wrong, he is supposed to beg forgiveness from the Lady.
      Sick, dysfunctional shit.

  • I get confused over this ego thing. We have fragile egos? We are the ones who face shoot downs and rejection during dating on every initiation. How many of you princess cupcakes are the ones who do the approach?

    OK, moving beyond that. Since we show on a daily basis how fem proof our fragile egos are. How is it that it also survives your deliberate attacks on us pretty much also on a daily basis?

    While the simplest of negs from us to you results in estrogenical meltdown. The classic “does this ” (whatever thing actually does make you look fat but you dont want to be told it does) “make me look fat?”. Or heaven forbid one of you ask us to buy you a drink and if I reply “Ironclad rule, I only buy drinks for those I am already sleeping with” sending you into bitch mode because your looks wasn’t sufficient to me to spend a couple bucks on you.

    I think the wrong gender is claiming fragile ego.

  • It amazing how much this ideology is embedded in pop culture. If the “male ego” is so fragile why isn’t men that are horribly damaged by seeing images of more attractive than the “average” on magazine covers and movies, or flying into paroxysms of rage over the constant sweeping generalized derogatory comments that are casually fired off on sitcoms and dramas by female character (and rarely questioned or subvert but usually treated as hard earned wisdom by the put upon world weary woman).

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