I think the phrase we should actually be moving toward is not necessarily toxic masculinity, but masculine fragility.

—Raymond Buscemi, PsyD

What is ‘masculine fragility’? Drawing from recent research in gender psychology, Sarah DiMuccio and Eric Knowles (2020) use the term ‘fragile masculinity’ to describe the “anxiety among males who feel that they are failing to meet cultural standards of masculinity” (p. 25).

Of course, these cultural standards can vary dramatically across time and space. Even within so-called Eurocentric contexts like imperial Rome, cultural standards of masculinity were constructed through a long history of war, conquest, and cultural exchange with various ‘others’: Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Goths, Vandals, Huns, Picts and Scots. While there is a general cross-cultural and transhistorical valorisation and idealisation of male warriors, protectors, and providers in classical literature, folklore, and modern cinema, the codes of chivalry among the knights of medieval Christian Europe are not simply interchangeable with Bushidō or the protocol of the Janissaries.

Furthermore, is there only one dominant or hegemonic cultural standard of masculinity in any given historical context? What do we make of the men of the cloth, Brahmins, the patricians of the Italian city-states and the world-famous Renaissance men they bankrolled, and the spiritual prestige accorded to the two-spirited, the androgynous, and those identified with the third gender in various cultures? Working in this vein of masculine heterogeneity, Song Geng (2004) differentiates the image of the fragile Confucian scholar (caizi) from popular representations of the hero (yingxiong) and the good bloke (haohan). Song argues that this (elitist yet relatively meritocratic) cultural standard of masculinity was androgynous in nature. It was power-based rather than sex-based, socially constructed via a hierarchical homosocial network rather than through the familiar binary opposition to “woman.”  

We thus use the phrase masculine fragilities to encompass the heterogeneity of normative masculinity — between and within different cultural, religious and political traditions, in medieval and modern time, in elite and popular cultural texts and social contexts. The deep anxiety of failing to meet a particular standard of masculinity does not exist in the realm of theoretical abstraction, but at the intersections of kinship, communal identification and affiliation, sociohistorical forces, and individual agency. In Stiffed (1999), for example, Susan Faludi examines how a generation of American men felt betrayed by a historical trajectory — the outsourcing of blue-collar jobs via economic globalisation, the post-Vietnam War fetishization of hypermasculine action heroes by Hollywood, the women’s rights movement — that shattered the post-WWII compact that consolidated an earlier ideal of American manhood. While this betrayal was (and is) often expressed by a toxic backlash towards the advancement of American women in many spheres of public life, Faludi goes beyond simplistic and essentialist explanations of masculine anxiety and misbehaviour (i.e., attributing it to male chromosomes or hormones). Instead, she illuminates the historic paradigm shift from a “utilitarian” standard of manliness, grounded in civic and communal service, to an “ornamental” masculinity shaped by entertainment, mass marketing, and the advent of a corporate “organisation man” culture in the 1950s and 1960s.

From Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman (1949) to Narcissus, Oedipus, King Lear, the orphaned juvenile criminals of Oliver Twist (1838), Herman Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener” (1853), Sigmund Freud’s case study of the “Rat Man”, the oeuvre of Nathaniel Hawthorne (Greven 2012), the angry, disillusioned and jaded young men of many coming-of-age narratives (J. D. Salinger, Hanif Kureishi, Haruki Murakami), and representations of ‘othered’ masculinities in many empires, colonies, slaveholding societies, and contemporary nation-states — masculine fragilities are no stranger to literature. The fragile male is arguably as interesting (if not more so) than the idealised warrior, hero, superhero, nobleman, or father-figure that he measures himself against.

We invite poets, writers, and scholars from all disciplines to take on the theme of masculine fragilities for our third issue. We welcome creative explorations of and critical inquiries into masculine fragilities from any historical, geographical, cultural, political, religious, and institutional context.

Submission period:
July 1st  to October 31st  2021

Further submission guidelines can be found below.

Publication date: Late December 2021



Up to 5 poems. There is no minimum or maximum word limit but poems that run up to a maximum of 40 lines are preferred.

Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction: 

A single work, maximum of 7,000 words.


A complete or a stand-alone extract of a play. A single work, maximum of 7,000 words.

Scholarly and Literary Essays: 

Author Guidelines for Scholarly and Literary Essays

When preparing your citations and formatting your reference entries, please adhere to the conventions established by the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Seventh Edition (2020). For more information about APA-7, please refer to 

Critical essays should not exceed 6,000 words (excluding footnotes and references). Please submit your manuscript as a Word Document. The text of your work should be in Garamond, 12 point size. Manuscripts should be single-spaced on A4-sized paper with margins of 1.25” (right and left) and 1” (top and bottom). 

Please use British spelling, except in cited texts or quotations. 

The title page of your essay should include the following information:

  1. The title of your essay (in bold)
  2. A brief abstract (150 – 200 words)
  3. Four to five keywords

Do use the Document Inspector to find and remove hidden data and personal information in your manuscript. Please include the following information in a separate Word Document:

  1. Author name, institutional affiliation and email address
  2. A brief biography in third person (maximum 100 words)


Do let us know which publication or film you wish to review and proceed if the Editors show interest in it. This does not guarantee publication. Maximum word limit is 1,000 words.


Do let us know about your planned interview and proceed if the Editors show interest in it. This does not guarantee publication. Maximum word limit is 3,000 words.

Language: English, original and translated works.

All submissions are subjected to a double-blind refereeing process by our reviewers.

How to submit your work:

Submit your work through email: In the email cover letter please indicate that this is an original and unpublished work that is being submitted.

Attach your individual submissions in separate attachments. Make sure there are no personal details in the files containing the submissions.

In a separate file provide a brief biography in third person (maximum 100 words)

File format: Word Document. The text of your work should be in Garamond, 12 point, single spaced.

Simultaneous submissions are welcome. It is your responsibility to inform us in time when the work submitted here is accepted somewhere else.

Submission periods:

January 1st to April 30th for the June issue 

July 1st to October 31st  for the December issue 

Our response period might be between two weeks to three months from the date we receive your work.

Contact Email: