Candace Owens had a lot to say about Harry Styles' unconventional Vogue photos. She tweeted, in response to the Vogue cover, "There is no society that can survive without strong men, The East knows this. In the west, the steady feminization of our men at the same time that Marxism is being taught to our children is not a coincidence. It is an outright attack. Bring back manly men."
Owens was faced with large backlash from many celebrities, including Jameela Jamil, Elijah Wood, Zach Braff, and more. However, Candace Owens stood her ground. In response to the backlash, Owens tweeted, "Terms like 'toxic masculinity,' were created by toxic females. Real women don't do fake feminism. Sorry I'm not sorry." These series of tweets and rants from Candace Owens, amongst other politicians jumping in, like Donald Trump Jr., made me feel incredibly infuriated.
I like Harry Styles, but I am by no means an extreme fan. On this matter, however, I feel incredibly passionate. While taking a course this semester on American women and reading bell hooks' 2000 book Feminism is For Everybody I have seen how feminism is strung together with issues like toxic masculinity, patriarchal society, and even capitalism. More importantly, the book paints a picture that is perfectly exhibited in the debate over Harry Styles.
In truth, I do not understand the argument against feminism. Feminism, as bell hooks describes it, is "a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression." Why would anyone, and, more specifically, Candace Owens, denounce feminism? For some, it is direct awareness that they seek enforcement of our patriarchal-rooted society. But, for others, and I suspect Candace Owens, it's a subconscious enforcement that, instead, works towards demonizing and twisting the feminism movement in order to support the message that feminism is invalid and that sexism does not exist. It is utilizing a narrative of feminism being anti-male, despite the sheer definition outrightly saying it is not.
As bell hooks theorizes, males are also suffering under patriarchy. Feminism benefits men who are fed the difficulties of toxic masculinity, which Candace Owens deflects as a mere imaginatintory term women made up. What I would like to say to Candace Owens is, perhaps the start of your journey towards a more positive society should start with questioning what it actually means to be male versus female, stripped from societal expectations that are incredibly subjective, like clothing, colors, and hairstyles. Also, I suggest that you ask yourself how Harry Styles wearing a dress in any way, shape, or form negatively affects your being. Your response to his wardrobe is a product of our society and the normalization of sexist behavior.
Furthermore, I would like to question Owens' equation of feminisation of men to Marxism. The term Marxism, socialism, and communism serve to incite fear in the public, not to educate. Harry Styles picking out what clothing to wear that day in no way aligns with Marxism.
Perhaps, if I had to make out what Candace Owens was getting at, the root of her problems with Styles is that it questions our patriarchal society. A society that is, of course, capitalist. In Owens' eyes, the first step to communism is changing anything and everything about our current society, even as small as our wardrobe. I urge people who were originally shocked at Harry Styles' cover to not only question why they feel gender dictates clothing beyond social expectations but to also ask yourself why Owens is trying to convince the American people that evolving fashion trends mean the United States is spiraling into Marxist ideas. The combination of fear and faulty argument, for Owens, serves to enforce a separated, anti-feminist, and patriarchial society, subconsciously or not.
So, Candace Owens, if you didn't like the color of the dress, that's ok. Or, if you're not attracted to Harry Styles when he wears it, that's ok. But, please, I beg of you, stop equating it to communism and promoting the idea that clothing dictates sex, gender, and manliness. And, recognize that your subjective preference to clothing shouldn't be political.