So, What’s the Buzz?
You’ve probably seen it, right? Women on TikTok asking men how often they think about the Roman Empire. And the men? They’re thinking about it—a lot. It’s not just a quirky trend; it’s a full-blown phenomenon. But why? What’s so captivating about a civilisation that crumbled ages ago? Is it the allure of power and conquest, or is it something more profound? The trend has sparked a flurry of discussions, memes, and even academic interest. It’s like the Roman Empire has suddenly become the unofficial mascot for modern masculinity, and we’re all left scratching our heads, wondering why the men have Caesar fever.
The Tweet Heard ‘Round the World
Kelsey Lewis Vincent tweeted about her husband’s daily musings on the Roman Empire, and boom! The internet goes wild. The hashtag #romanempire racks up over 835.6 million views on TikTok. This isn’t just viral; it’s pandemic-level viral. It’s as if Kelsey has unwittingly tapped into a hidden reservoir of male fascination, releasing it into the digital world. Making the tweet not just a one-off comment but a catalyst for a broader conversation about men, history, and the intricacies of the male psyche. It’s like she’s unearthed a subterranean cultural current that we didn’t even know existed.
Men and Rome: A Love Story?
So, men are daydreaming about the Roman Empire. Some daily, others weekly, and some when they’re watching “Gladiator.” But why? Is it the grand architecture? The military strategies? The political intrigue? This fascination could be entirely innocent. After all, the Roman Empire was a marvel of engineering, from the construction of the Colosseum to the intricate aqueduct systems that supplied water to the cities. It was a society that valued knowledge, with libraries and schools that promoted intellectual growth. For men who are engineers, historians, or even just fans of strategy games, the Roman Empire offers a treasure trove of fascinating subjects to delve into – and for some, it’s just that. But for many, it’s a world where masculinity was celebrated, where men could be warriors, politicians, and philosophers all in one.
The Masculine Ideal, Roman-Style
You might be thinking, “Ellie, men are already warriors, politicians, and philosophers. They’ve got the world on a string, so what’s the big deal?” You’re not wrong. Men dominate these fields and always have, but here’s the tea: In the Roman Empire, men weren’t scrutinised for embracing these roles; it was straightforward, uncomplicated.
Fast forward to today, where feminism is more than a trending hashtag; it’s reshaping societal norms. Conversations about patriarchy are inclusive, involving both women and men. We are even seeing huge feminist pop culture moments like the Barbie Movie opening up these discussions, inventing terms like ‘kenough’ to encourage men to express their emotions and even—gasp—cry. This shift, however, has led to a backlash and a rise in figures like Andrew Tate, who are vehemently opposed to any form of male emotional liberation.
The emotional work that comes with liberation isn’t easy, and many men are struggling with it. In their minds, liberation should simplify life, not complicate it.
So here’s my theory: The Roman Empire trend serves as the ultimate ‘man cave’ for the modern male psyche. It’s a world of war, power, and grandeur—a place where men could be MEN, and women, well, not so much. It’s a realm that seems to offer a form of escapism, a break from the complexities and ambiguities of modern life. It’s like a psychological time machine that transports men back to an era where the rules were clear, and the roles well-defined. But it’s not just nostalgia; it’s a deep-rooted psychological yearning that taps into the very essence of what many men consider to be the epitome of masculinity.
Psychologists Weigh In
And it’s not just me who feels this way. The Tab joined in on this discussion in their article, where they spoke to psychologists about this phenomenon. According to Dr. Alicia Brown from Turning Tides Psychology, the Roman Empire is the epitome of the alpha male—the gladiator, the conqueror, the ruler. It’s like a psychological time machine. It’s not just about the allure of physical strength; it’s also about the mental fortitude that the Roman Empire represents. The empire was a complex society with a legal system, technological innovations, and a structured hierarchy, offering multiple avenues for men to assert their masculinity.
The Tab also spoke to a neurologist called Dr Rachel Taylor, who suggests it could be down to “historical thinking”.
The quote reads: “Epigenetics is how the environment interplays with our DNA and how this passes onto our descendants…in my opinion, many become fascinated with this period of history due to the cultural influences and images that abound from there. They play into the imagination and imagery of many people – but in particular men – and the visualisation of power, war and drama.”
The Complexity of it All
The Roman Empire was a patriarchal society, and this modern fascination could be a subconscious yearning for less equality. So, are we backsliding? Is this trend a red flag for feminists? It’s a question that can’t be ignored. The Roman Empire was a society where women had limited rights; they couldn’t vote, hold public office, or even be counted as a full citizen. Property and children belonged to the husband, and women were often relegated to the domestic sphere. This system perpetuated male dominance and offered men a range of roles and opportunities that were systematically denied to women.
But it’s not just a one-sided issue. This multifaceted obsession goes beyond mere historical interest; it taps into deeper issues of identity and gender. It’s a world where masculinity was celebrated, but it’s also a world that marginalised women. This complexity makes it a wake-up call for feminists to scrutinise not just the glaring issues but also the subtle undercurrents that shape gender dynamics today.
Time to Wake Up, Romeos
So, there you have it. Men are enamoured with the Roman Empire, and it’s not just about togas and gladiators. It’s a complex web of nostalgia, masculinity, and patriarchy. But let’s not forget, we’re in the 21st century, not ancient Rome. While men might be yearning for a simpler time when roles were clearly defined, we can’t afford to romanticise a period that marginalised half the population. It’s high time we all—men and women alike—face the emotional labour of today’s world. Because trust me, liberation isn’t just about breaking chains; it’s about understanding why they were there in the first place. But one thing is for sure: all roads-and men’s thoughts lead to Rome.