A Kickstarter for a men’s romper, the RompHim, has raised nearly $300,000—and has prompted widespread mockery this week. But if you poke fun at the RompHim, you’re actually revealing your own masculine fragility, social justice warriors are now insisting.
Writing for Wussy, an Atlanta-based queer publication, Matt J. Jones says that “the torrent of femme bashing rhetoric that has followed [the RompHim] is troubling.” The memes satirizing the RompHim “still enforce gender roles and highlight acts of misogyny through veiled jokes,” he says.
“Yes, masculinity is fragile enough that an article of clothing, even gender neutral options, can shake people to the core. … Hopefully this bit of internet history goes silent sooner than later, and these gender hangups are just remembered as a sad weak moment of uber-masculinity gone awry,” Jones writes.
Blogger Kitty Stryker offers another version of this argument in Wear Your Voice, an intersectional feminist online publication. Stryker was aghast when her friends—“a crowd of queer, gender*cking folks who often scoff at ideas of what they should or shouldn’t wear”—thought the RompHim was unfortunate and hilarious.
By making fun of it, “we are effectively shaming people from exploring how awesome ungendering clothes and wearing what you want can be,” Stryker says.
Crazy how the Internet can not handle a mildly gender neutral item of clothing for cis men #Romphim
— Maddy Avino (@maddyyaminoacid) May 18, 2017
The RompHim actually offers a great option “not just for cismen, but for trans women and nonbinary folks who can’t squeeze into the cameltoe-prone options at Forever21,” as well as for “people who may not identify as men, but who want to wear a romper that actually leaves room for a c*ck and balls,” Stryker writes.
The same social-justice warriors defending the RompHim have also, of course, meticulously documented the ways the new garment might be problematic.
Stryker doesn’t like that the RompHim doesn’t come in plus sizes, given that “many of the folks I know who were excited about this are on the XL-and-larger end of the spectrum.”
Also concerning: That this garment may be allowing affluent people to appropriate the jumpsuit, which has traditionally been a working-class staple, Stryker writes.
The PC left also doesn’t like that it’s a “RompHim,” because that’s inherently a gendered term.
“Seriously, a ‘RompHim?’ Must we drag knuckles and beat chests at the sight or sound of any opportunity for gender expression? … The thing is, rompers are traditionally feminine pieces, but not femme exclusive. This speaks more to society’s underotnes of gender policing,” Jones writes.
A romphim or whatever is just a romper, like a man purse is a purse. Men have used these for YEARS. The him part is just for your fragility
— grinch binch (@immanueldanuel) May 18, 2017
And in the Huffington Post, Claire Fallon deconstructs not just the romper but also other “bro-ified” names that she says help men feel more comfortable liking traditionally feminine things. But really, this rebranding reveals how “it’s men who nurture the more acute anxiety about gender neutrality.”
A sampling of the RompHim’s predecessors include mandles (candles), brogurt (yogurt), and brosé (pink wine).
Fallon concludes: “The veritable rash of bro-ified terms for non-gendered products shows how deep male fragility runs: A man’s manhood requires constant signaling and buttressing to remain secure. … The For men to reap the benefits of a gender-neutral world, we rely on verbal tricks that only reinforce the gender-normative stereotypes that keep men boxed in.”
Real progress, she says, happens when men can unselfconsciously eat yogurt, sip rosé, and burn fragrant candles while clad in a glorious romper.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.