No, Ed Sheeran doesn’t have a ‘toxic masculinity’ problem. Can we please just leave him alone?


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No, Ed Sheeran doesn’t have a ‘toxic masculinity’ problem. Can we please just leave him alone?

Slamming him isn’t just anti-feminist, it could be misandrist

It’s tough to be Ed Sheeran right now. Sure, his album is getting rave reviews and he’s dominating the charts, but at the same time, he’s also being called out pretty heavily for his “whiny lyrics” and supposed “toxic masculinity”.

It seems that, all of a sudden, the boy who was once pop music’s adorable underdog has now become a hated wannabe whose inability to handle fame has turned him into a misogynistic asshole. His songs objectify women, slut-shame, and are aggressively masculine. He drinks too much, does too many drugs and is a hypocrite for claiming that he “doesn’t give a shit what people think about him.” Or at least, that’s what his detractors would have you believe.

If you read Stillwell’s article carefully (and the others that have come out since) it kind of seems like we’re all getting riled up about nothing – and that could be dangerous for the feminist movement. We can’t be angry at men for things that we praise other women for doing. Feminism means equality for men and women.

When we attack men like Ed Sheeran for expressing their emotions – even if they do do that in a problematic way – it borders on misandrism, not feminism.

We can’t be mad at Ed for writing a simple pop song about loving the way a woman looks – which is the basis of the anger around of You – when we glorify women for doing just that to men (“It’s Raining Men,” “Candyman,” “How to Be a Heartbreaker,” or pretty much any Lady Gaga song). He’s not writing about how he doesn’t care about the girl’s personality or how he just wants her for the sex. He’s just singing about how he’s sexually attracted to someone at a bar, started dating her, and now they have dope sex.

Plus, there are plenty of songs that actually do objectify women. Remember Blurred Lines?

In Playboy, Stillwell writes: “there is something remarkably different about the way Sheeran handles being a pop star compared to Bieber and others like Adam Levine, Justin Timberlake and yes, even Drake. In a word, his persona feels forced.”

OK, let’s break this down for a hot sec.

Sheeran’s “remarkably different” way of handling fame is because he has been doing so for much less time that the previously listed A-listers. But, other than that, it seems as though the piece is putting him down for not following the status-quo of other pop-star personas.

Well, Ed isn’t just another pop star. In fact, only a few years ago the kid was an unheard of indie, singer-songwriter that often put down the world of starlets and bright lights. Now that he has been propelled into said world, I’m sure he is feel quite conflicted. It’s clear that he doesn’t want to be put into the same category as Justin Timberlake.

Miley Cyrus went against the image that was being forced upon her. She was once Disney’s golden girl and is now covered in tattoos, openly does drugs and doesn’t give a fuck – and we love her for it.. Lady Gaga changes her persona every album and doesn’t give a fuck and we love her for it. Chelsea Handler, Amy Schumer, even Jennifer Lawrence – you get the picture. So why, when it’s a man, it’s suddenly indicative of Ed Sheeran’s apparent inner turmoil and potential mental breakdown?

It's a VERY special day for @happyhippiefdn !!!! Will fill y'all in SOOOOON! Can't wait to share ????

A post shared by Miley Cyrus (@mileycyrus) on Dec 29, 2016 at 1:45pm PST

Angry, post-break up songs don’t mean Sheeran is misogynistic or anti-feminist, it means he got dumped and is angry. Based on the lyrics, it seems that the relationship didn’t end well at all. We all get angry when we people betray us, and how do we know that isn’t what happened in this relationship? Plus, there are plenty of angry break-up songs written by women.

Don’t is targeted by Stillwell for having misogynistic lyrics, but is it really that difference from Blank Space (or you know, anything Taylor Swift has ever written)? Yeah, maybe the boy needs to work on his communication skills, but I think this is less slut-shaming and more, “please don’t fuck me regularly, and act like we are dating, then turn around and fuck someone I’m on tour with while I’m only a few rooms away.”

So, in reality, there really isn’t anything to be upset at Ed Sheeran over. Is it really so bad to be angry during a break up? And is it really so bad to mention being sexually attracted to someone at a bar?There is a line the needs to be crossed in order to qualify a song as objectification and I really don’t think that Ed has crossed it.

As feminists we need be focusing on the issues that are really at hand. We are fighting for equality between men and women. This isn’t reached by putting men down for everything they do or say. We need to worth with men not put them down for everything little thing they do or say.

Let’s get angry over the wage gap, the rights to our bodies, songs like “Blurred Lines” that are actually glorifying some pretty shit behavior. Let’s take arms up over the things that matter, not over a mopey ginger who got dumped and is singing about how he’s going to be just fine without that shitty girlfriend.

And, just for the record, I think Ed’s tattoos look dope.

Featured image via Flickr.