I would like to talk about Gillette's recent ad regarding toxic masculinity. Please take a moment to follow the link to see what I'm talking about if you don't already know.
I'd like to give my thoughts and opinions about their portrayal of what a man is and the overall message they're trying to convey.
1. 10 seconds huh?
Bullying, #MeToo, Toxic Masculinity. Within the first ten seconds, these are all things that come out at you in reference to men. Suggesting that men or boys are the sole sources of bullying among their peers. Which of course is not true.
We all know that girls are just as capable of bullying as boys are. While I'm aware there are studies that show bullying does occur more from boys statistically. My point is not to combat that but to combat the idea that men or boys and boys only own the title of the bully and that it should be associated with just men.
When it comes to #MeToo I'm glad it's something women are fighting for and bringing awareness to. I have no arguments about that. My issue, like what most of this article will be about, is its use to define a man. Who he is and what he does. Men who have made this movement necessary are the lowest form of men and should not be used to speak for us as a whole or define us as the ad suggests.
Toxic Masculinity, "Toxic masculinity is a narrow and repressive description of manhood, designating manhood as defined by violence, sex, status, and aggression. It's the cultural ideal of manliness, where strength is everything while emotions are a weakness; where sex and brutality are yardsticks by which men are measured, while supposedly "feminine" traits – which can range from emotional vulnerability to simply not being hypersexual – are the means by which your status as "man" can be taken away" (Goodmen Project).
Toxic Masculinity is used to encompass all the lowest forms of a mans baser instincts and actions into one whole word and definition in order, to define men as a whole, as something negative or even vile and therefore reason to cause fear, anger, or resentment towards men. Representing the whole instead of the minority.
2. "Boys will be boys"
The entire use of this phrase in reference to men is just hysterical. "Boys will be boys" is a phrase I hear in reference to mostly children, usually following them doing something like climbing up a tree and falling or running into a wall and expecting themselves to do anything but get a decent sized notch on their forehead and as far as adult men go.
Doing stuff like playing Russian roulette with ladders trying to change a light bulb on a barn. Men can be accused of doing stupid things for sure. But never have I EVER heard, seen, or witnessed in person, on social media, or on the internet, someone attempt to use the phrase "boys will be boys to" to try to play, what? Sexual harassment down!?
Or use it as an excuse to bully someone or sit idly by and do nothing when you see or hear about things such as sexual harassment or bullying? I don't think so. Just an attempt to use a previously harmless phrase in order to demean and deface the image of what a man is.
3. A real man
Right around the .50 seconds mark the whole attitude and direction of the ad changed into a more positive outlook, not so negatively focused on defining the bad half of men but showing the good half. Then it gets to a part, where it says, "but some is not enough." Meaning or suggesting that only a small population of men represent the good half.
Men are not perfect, no one or gender is. We all each have our own individual flaws in our nature. Maybe this is the part where I'm just too idealistic but, to me, the majority of men do their best to embody the good half of men, we try to be good fathers, husbands, leaders, men.
Like everyone we make mistakes. But to focus on, single out, and define men's nature as our more negative half than positive is wrong, unfair, and a step back for us as a society.
4. Going forward
I have so much to say about this ad because it was made with the best intentions. But they had false implications on what men are and what we do. I have no problem with the ad coming out to tell us as a whole, men can do better. Because we can.
Being better is something we can always strive for in our lives male or female. Going forward I feel the best way men can be better, the best way we all can be better, is to stop looking at each other and identifying what's different, what's negative about each other, what's wrong with each other, it's a slippery slope and leads to no right answers.
Stop pointing fingers. Stop hating or standing opposed to someone because of made-up or false statements or ideologies designed to make you do so.
Men, there is nothing about the negative half of our person and actions, that is false. There is truth to it and evidence.
What is not true is that is not how most men are. I implore each and every one of us to be the best man you can be. Be a teacher, a leader. Do something good today to help combat the negative stereotypes the media wants to spin. We can't get rid of our bad half. But we can be better than it.