Fragile masculinity: Hammond’s homophobic fear of ice cream

Stephanie Farnsworth takes Richard Hammond’s comments to task that straight men don’t eat ice cream.

Richard Hammond proudly displayed the full fragility of toxic masculinity when he joked that “It’s all right, I don’t eat ice cream. It’s something to do with being straight”. Just to put how staggeringly bad this comment was into a bit of context: even Jeremy Clarkson didn’t think it was funny.

Hammond’s often thought of as the nice one of the three, which isn’t particularly hard when he spends most of his time stood in the shadow of Clarkson, who has been called out for racism and who once punched a Top Gear employee. The problem lies in Hammond’s need to be loved; he so badly wants acceptance but only from the straight cis white blokes he can go down the pub with. He wants to be accepted in that old bully boy’s club, and it comes off as pathetic and pandering.

Hammond’s the modern cishet man who wants to be stylish and edgy but also make it firmly known that he’s a man. He’s the sort that will be drinking brose, taking broga sessions and saying the word ‘mate’ every time a man is mentioned just so that everyone in the vicinity is absolutely clear that they’re just friends and he under no circumstances has sex with men. He’s so much more accepting than the older guys he’s with, but he’s not gay; he’s absolutely not gay.

He’s so much more accepting than the older guys he’s with, but he’s not gay; he’s absolutely not gay.

He’s cutting edge and liberal but he’s a real man’s man, or lad if he’s still trying to hang onto his youthful charm next to Clarkson. Ice cream is for gays; real men suck lollipops, right Richard?

Hammond probably doesn’t even realise he’s being offensive though. There’s so much privilege going on that Hammond didn’t even think Clarkson using the n-word was a sign of racism, so making homophobic jokes probably doesn’t mean he’s homophobic in his world.

Ice cream is for gays; real men suck lollipops, right Richard?

It’s truly staggering how marginalised people are hammered every day for trying to make sure progress happens and yet are slammed as ‘special snowflakes’ and treated as coddled. White cishets can’t wrap their head around trans women being able to use the bathroom and they can’t eat ice cream in case people think they’re gay, but somehow we’re the ones who are fragile?

Hammond’s bizarre joke not only is a lesson in humour should actually be considered remotely creative to be funny (sorry homophobes, we’re not too PC, you’re just not good) but also in how we’ve been pandering to narratives about broken masculinity. Is masculinity in crisis? Yes, because of toxic masculinity.

Trump and Brexit happened because of lies and mistruths about marginalised people. They insist that we want to take their rights and privileges as  our own, to the extent that they will be oppressed. Yet there’s no evidence of any of this. We just had Christmas, guys; so no one stole it from you.

The fact is though it’s relatively easy to make a bigot out of a liberal. Throw a few bits of angry shade about how toxic masculinity harms women and how men have benefited from patriarchy and watch them squirm. Keep prodding and eventually they’ll say ‘not all men’. Keep going and you’ll have a Trump fan boy fighting for their rights. This is the crisis in masculinity; its cishet men not being able being asked to be held to a better standard.

They see their privilege threatened by attempts to bring about social justice and equality and so they have a massive backlash. They question whether they have a culture because suddenly they’re thinking that maybe one day their culture won’t dominate everything. So suddenly you get cishet guys beating their chest saying how daring they are for talking about ‘Christmas’ and how they won’t eat ice cream because that’s for gay men and they’ve got way too much testosterone for that, and somehow we’re supposed to be impressed like when we’re 16 and we pretend to be impressed when spotty teenage cis blokes think handbrake turns are sexy. Top tip: they aren’t and everyone is bored.

The crisis in masculinity is cis heterosexual men being terrified anyone will think they’re LGBTQ+. The crisis in masculinity is them being so afraid they have to make jokes at the expense of marginalised people and help oppress others because the only way they can feel empowered by their identity is by using someone else’s as a weapon against them.

The crisis in masculinity is cis heterosexual men being terrified anyone will think they’re LGBTQ+.

Hammond’s joke about not wanting to be mistaken for gay comes at a time when hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people have risen exponentially in the wake of Brexit. Hammond doesn’t want to be thought of as gay because he thinks it will make him less of a man, but plenty of queer people don’t want their identities found out because it could lead to harassment, assault and/or death. If Hammond wants to make queerphobic jokes then at the very least LGBTQ+ people should be able to call out cis heterosexuals without their tears.

Follow Stephanie on Twitter (@StephFarnsworth)

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