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Issue 17 Out Now

Emasculation is a Myth

The internet has never had a productive conversation about gender dynamics, especially not in the black community. In recent photo shoots from Rihanna, Asap Rocky, and Jonathan Majors, the internet has seen an influx of memes and drawn-out conversations on the emasculation of Black men.

Emasculation is a pseudoscientific myth. Pseudoscience is a system of theories and methods presented as facts that do not meet the standards of the scientific method. The roots of emasculation lie in scientific racism, a pseudoscience used to justify racism and weaponize health data against Black Americans.

To break down emasculation, look at its origins. The word emasculate was first used in the 1600s, meaning to castrate. In a literal sense, it means to remove sex organs while figuratively used to diminish male pride or manhood. For example, those who challenge or denounce the standards of heterosexuality face opposition from black men that believe in emasculation. Their targets are often a part of the LGBTQIA+ community or black feminists.

How we use the term emasculation today completely differs from its past. Emasculation originates from removing sex organs from plants, animals, and humans. Which led to the belief that power, masculinity, and femininity dwell in the genitalia. While possible to emasculate someone in the literal sense, you can’t alter someone’s sexuality or gender.

Today emasculation’s figurative use proposes consequences. Myths that black women emasculate men, like in Rihanna’s photo shoot with Asap Rocky, where she leads while he takes on a supporting role holding their child. Suggesting that uplifting leading black women emasculate and diminish men. Another photo shoot with Jonathan Majors has sparked conversation on the portrayal of black men in America, stating that his anime-inspired pink attire makes them look weak. This claim is based on the monolith of masculinity that black men try to uphold, making their version of masculinity extremely fragile.

Thanks to bell hooks We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity, we see that emasculation is used by black men to reinstate patriarchal order, due to black men who obsess over emasculation, being absorbed by white-supremacist patriarchal masculinity.

The argument that black men’s issues stem from emasculation distracts from the main issue of men trying to maintain gender and relationship hierarchies. Many arguments made under emasculation do not correlate, for example, fatherlessness and TV making children gay or transgender.

Emasculation preserves scientific racism’s place in the world when men shift the blame to unrelated factors like sexuality and feminism. Justifying the fragility of masculinity and its need for patriarchal order.


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