"play to his masculinity" was part of an ad I saw on YouTube.
Tips for “getting the guy,” standing out, making him notice.
He wants to feel powerful, the ad informed, and if he feels
that way around you, he’ll want to be with you. So remind him,
its advice ran, how strong he is: let him know that
“I feel so safe around you.” Play to his masculinity.
But some women, including me, wouldn’t feel comfortable
taking that advice, and this issue is much deeper than some ad
promoting a company’s product on YouTube. I don’t feel
comfortable letting a guy believe I want him to protect me—
and I don’t like it when boys will hold open the door for me,
or try to pay, or pick up my bag to carry. I know they aren’t
implying that I’m not able to do these things myself. But as
they try to take the “heavy work,” they’re also taking
an affirmation of their masculinity—
at a cost to us, as they reduce our sense of independence
and force us to defer to their masculinity.
Most men don’t even seem to realize this is an issue,
but a lot of women aren’t able to honestly
“play to their masculinity” in order to let them feel strong,
without losing through it just as much as they’re gaining.