Harry Styles isn’t ready to “bring back manly men” no matter what his Instagram post on Wednesday claimed. The “Adore You” singer’s statement is yet another step in his digital feud with conservative commentator Candace Owens.
On Wednesday, both Owens and Styles contributed to the conversation again—a disagreement on masculinity that was sparked by Styles’s Vogue cover. In it, the alternative pop singer was pictured in a gown, which some found endearing and others slammed as signifying the death of so-called “rugged masculinity.”
So when Styles uploaded an Instagram photo Wednesday, himself in a lilac suit and frilly sweater captioned “Bring back manly men,” Owens knew it was about her.
The controversial commentator responded to Styles’s comment on Twitter Wednesday. “When people try to tell me I don’t have influence, and then @Harry_Styles dedicates an entire post to my tweet,” she wrote alongside a screenshot of Styles’ Instagram photo. “I inspire global conversation. #BringBackManlyMen. Shots fired.”
The phrase trended on Twitter Wednesday, too, though most of the comments appeared to praise Styles for challenging gender stereotypes. His fans were thrilled by the jab and ran to his defense.
Owen’s comment on Wednesday was kind compared to her initial criticism of Styles. That said, she wasn’t the only one to hate on his December 2020 Vogue cover when it was first unveiled in November. Styles’ cover was featured in her direct tweet.
“There is no society that can survive without strong men,” Owens wrote on November 14. “The East knows this. In the west, the steady feminization of our men at the same time that Marxism is being taught to our children is not a coincidence. It is an outright attack.”
She ended the post with the line, which Styles has taken back: “Bring back manly men.”
While the feud hasn’t seen an actual exchange of words between Styles and Owens, it’s been polarizing enough the fans of both celebrities offered their own words and support. Owens’s November 14 tweet had nearly 114,000 likes, along with almost 67,000 retweets.
Styles’ Instagram post on Wednesday brought in nearly 4.2 million likes at the time of publishing, with the number consistently growing. Through it all, Styles’ fans were the loudest on Twitter, flocking to support his feminine style moments as well as his right to identify as a man who likes to wear dresses sometimes.
It looks like the ball is, once again, in Styles’ court. Fans will have to wait to see if the musician has anything else to say on the topic of gender roles.