The Brief: A Twitter user's comments about how men shouldn't lean towards women because it makes them look weak sparked online discourse and memes ridiculing his viewpoint.


A Twitter thread rooted in toxic masculinity inspired an online discussion about whether or not heterosexual men appear weak when they lean towards women, including many memes roasting the developer of this “don’t lean in” theory.

On May 2, 2020, Twitter user @alpharivelino tweeted a picture of Icelandic strongman Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (who also played “The Mountain” in Game of Thrones) with his arm around his wife, with the caption “Don’t lean in, strong man!” The tweet is followed by a wild thread about how by leaning towards women, men can appear weak, simp-like, and submissive, thus giving up his power in relationships and becoming a beta rather than an alpha male.

‘Don’t Lean In’ Replies And Memes

Many people replied to @alpharivelino’s thread by dragging him for his outlandish and sexist comments and mocking his fragile masculinity with the “fellas is it gay to…” trope. The thread inspired memes of scenarios where men lean in towards women with green lines drawn on, similar to @alpharivelino’s original photos. While there was widespread disdain expressed for his comments, @alpharivelino’s perspective reflects other online communities where men share toxic viewpoints and behaviors about how to interact with women and prove their strength.

As far as anyone can tell, @alpharivelino’s comments were not, in fact, about Sheryl Sandberg’s #GirlBoss book Lean In.