Fans of Harry Styles and his celebrity pals were outraged after conservative author Candace Owens and conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro criticized the singer's Vogue cover, on which the "Watermelon Sugar" hitmaker donned a high-fashion dress.
On Friday, November 13, the 26-year-old made history as the first man to be featured on the cover of the magazine and defied gender norms in several of the shots.
"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, 31, tweeted on Saturday, November 14.
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.— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) November 14, 2020
It is an outright attack.
Bring back manly men. https://t.co/sY4IJF7VkK
Famous faces shot back at the author in the replies. "You're pathetic," Oliva Wilde proclaimed. "I think you’ve missed the definition of what a man is. masculinity alone does not make a man," Elijah Wood added.
Meanwhile, Shapiro, 36, echoed Owens's statement in a retweet. "This is perfectly obvious. Anyone who pretends that it is not a referendum on masculinity for men to don floofy dresses is treating you as a full-on idiot," he added.
"You’re ignoring the fact that no society can survive without fem men, or masc women, or fem women, or people in between all of that," Bob the Drag Queen, who won RuPaul's Drag Race, tweeted. "It’s almost like no society is a monolith and that’s how societies thrive ... through multiple contributions from various demographics."
Jameela Jamil stepped in to defend Styles, calling the haters "insecure, toxic, woman-hating, homophobic d***heads.” She wrote, "Harry Styles is plenty manly, because manly is whatever you want it to be."
"Sweetie, the founding fathers wore powdered wigs and stockings," singer Plastic Martyr replied.
Several men donned dresses in support of Styles, including Misha Collins, who shared a snap in a pink prom dress posing with his wife. "Preach it, Candace!" he wrote sarcastically.
Despite the fierce backlash, Owens did not back down from her stance. "Since I’m trending I’d like to clarify what I meant when I said 'bring back manly men'. I meant: Bring back manly men," she wrote on Twitter. "Terms like 'toxic masculinity', were created by toxic females. Real women don’t do fake feminism. Sorry I’m not sorry."
Donald Trump Jr., who — in his high school yearbook — said that he'd "never admit he's wrong," even chimed in on what has become a controversial topic. "You’re never going to convince me this isn’t peak masculinity," he wrote in a tweet tagging Owens and showing a photoshopped picture of former U.S. President Bill Clinton in a dress and heels. Owens replied, "Us gender-normative bigots just don’t get it."
The "Adore You" singer praised legends such as Prince, Elton John and David Bowie for inspiring him to embrace all kinds of fashion. "When you take away ‘There’s clothes for men and there’s clothes for women,’ once you remove any barriers, obviously you open up the arena in which you can play," he said.
"Any time you’re putting barriers up in your own life, you’re just limiting yourself. There’s so much joy to be had in playing with clothes. I’ve never really thought too much about what it means — it just becomes this extended part of creating something."
His former bandmate, Liam Payne, previously criticized Styles' outfit choices and said he wouldn't let him babysit his son, Bear, in case he would dress the toddler in something he "just wouldn't understand" but now reportedly called Styles privately to congratulate him on the Vogue cover.