Patriarchy and Rahul Gandhi's abs

A huge part of the modern Right Wing narrative is masculinity. Much noise is made about aggression, fighting, destroying, and killing. Even the weakest RW specimen will flex by using a muscular display picture of some sort and ranting every day about how he is a brave warrior. In short, their narrative ties masculinity with everything toxic and vile.

The fact that gets buried in the midst of this is that there are many masculinities. Patriarchy makes life hell for women, sure. But it isn't kind to many men either. It makes them conform to toxic standards and wreaks havoc on their self esteem. It tells them the only way they can lay claim to the status of a man is by being abusive and violent.

For the most part, non-toxic versions of masculinity have been buried for a long time. Men have been told being kind is a weakness. They have been told that to listen and self reflect is a sign of slavery. They have been fed the lie that they deserve to dominate at all costs and that to not do so will spell the eventual demise of their status as men.

Many of these are cultural behavioural patterns. But some of it, especially these days, is also political messaging. Almost the entirety of our present-day cultural Right Wing discourse stems from toxic masculinity. A small problem arises therefore when an Opposition leader who is against violence, advocates forgiveness, and has even shown the ability to acknowledge the wrongs committed by his party in the past, turns out to have abs.

One doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to see why such a thing would short-circuit an ecosystem that has been trained to see aggression as the ultimate measure of manhood. How do they explain a man with abs if the said man isn't as bloodthirsty as them? How do they reconcile with a reality where one can be "manly" and not abusive or vindictive?

There are many men who are soft-spoken and gentle. In a culture of toxicity, they have to pretend to be snarling beasts. If those benefiting from toxic masculinity were to even acknowledge the existence of men who aren't toxic, they will send out a message that there is more than one definition of "man". And that would spell doom for the Right Wing's masculinity narrative.

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