Harry Styles’ Dress: It’s Not About Masculinity. It’s About Cultural Appropriation

Harry Styles, the English singer, songwriter, and actor who rose to stardom as part of the English boy-band “One Direction,” stirred controversy when Vogue announced that he would be starring in their December cover story … while wearing a dress.

Candace Owens, who will soon be joining the Daily Wire team, criticized Styles and Vogue for exhibiting a “steady feminization of our men at the same time that Marxism is being taught to our children.”

Ben Shapiro supported Owens, saying “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.” Matt Walsh also agreed, summarizing the events as follows: “Candace Owens is trending because a bunch of whiney idiots are mad that she said men who wear dresses aren’t manly.”

Many praised Styles for his clothing choice, including Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele, who described the English singer as “revolutionary.”

The problem here is not whether Styles is indeed “revolutionary” — he is hardly the first celebrity to crossdress — and neither is it whether such decisions are indicative of a new attack on masculinity when, in all likelihood, this is simply an attempt to be different for attention.

The real problem here is that the Left have shown that the issue of cultural appropriation — one they claim to defend with fervor — is suddenly unimportant.

The term “cultural appropriation” refers to the adoption of parts of one culture by members of another culture, with added controversy applied to those of a so-called “dominant” culture appropriating from “disadvantaged” or “victimized” minority cultures. With this definition in mind, and given that the Left routinely presents women as victims of some inescapable patriarchy, how can they then celebrate the appropriation of female culture by a male? Moreover, why is Michele — a man — given authority to endorse such appropriation?

After all, this is the same Left who viewed children dressing as the Disney princess “Moana” during Halloween as fraught with bigotry: “Moana is based on real history and a real group of people … if we are going to dress up a real person, we have to make sure we are doing it in a way that is respectful. Otherwise, it is like we are making fun of someone else’s culture.” 

This is the same Left who criticized white celebrities who styled their hair in “cornrows” as an example of “the dominant white American culture of stealing cherished icons of identity from the subjugated black culture. Kind of like wearing the teeth of your pillaged enemy as a necklace.” 

And this is the same Left who drove Megyn Kelly from NBC after she dared to discuss the topic of blackface, asking whether there is a difference between wearing makeup to mock or to emulate a cherished cultural idol. 

Of course, in order to navigate this clear hypocrisy, there are a set of fluid guidelines which can be applied in order to allow some people to appropriate culture while allowing others to be destroyed for it. According to Insider magazine, “There’s a big difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation,” and that “If you show love and appreciation for parts of a culture, such as clothing, hairstyles, or accessories, but remain prejudiced against its people, that’s appropriation. On the other hand, if you learn, explore, and understand a different culture and then show that in a style that you’ve developed over time, that’s appreciation.”

Ironically, this is precisely the argument Megyn Kelly put forward. It’s not about the action itself, but the intent beneath the action. Unfortunately for Kelly, Owens, and other conservatives, the definition of this intent is controlled entirely by the Left. Until that changes, they will continue to celebrate Leftist men who appropriate the culture of women and condemn conservative women who question the appropriation of culture.

Ian Haworth is host of The Ian Haworth Show and The Truth in 60 Seconds. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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