Masculinity / Politics in America / Semantics

“…people who use ‘snowflake’ as an insult tend to seem pretty aggrieved themselves…”

The truth is that people who use “snowflake” as an insult tend to seem pretty aggrieved themselves — hypersensitive to dissent or complication and nursing a healthy appetite for feeling oppressed. (Hence the delight people take, lately, in making “snowflake” jokes whenever figures on the right claim to have been victimized or treated poorly; when the conservative activist Cassandra Fairbanks sued a journalist who said she had made a “white power” hand symbol, citing emotional distress, one headline read “Pro-Trump Snowflake Triggered by Tweet.”)

Today’s tough-guy posturing seems rooted, paradoxically, in threat and fear: fear of defeat, fear of lost status and fear that society is growing increasingly ill suited to tough-guy posturing in the first place. The narrator of “Fight Club,” source of that “snowflake” mantra, was a delusional man coping with modernity by inventing a hypermasculine alter-ego, imagining himself as the man-cult leader Tyler Durden. But making an entire alternate masculine identity is a lot of work. It’s always much easier to just call other people wimps and snowflakes — and hope they’ll be intimidated enough to melt away.

Amanda Hess, “Ice Storm”, The New York Times Magazine (18 June 2017), 13.