I am literally sick to death of seeing the outrage about this advert on social media. The idiotic posts from people who have no concept of why this is a good thing and completely misconstrue the message and see only masculinity under attack.
We live in a society where toxic masculinity is so ingrained that many fail to either see it, or understand what it actually is. I see outcry at the term as though somehow it means anything masculine is toxic and that is completely wrong. Masculinity is not under attack, Toxic masculinity is!!, and if you have no concept of what that even means, then how can you criticise it?
Toxic masculinity is the term associated with the social lessons we are taught in life, concerning what makes a male a ‘real man’. Both genders are influenced by this from birth and it does affect both sexes.
Boys wear blue, boys like only action figures and cars, boys are tough and don’t cry – it’s for sissies, boys push around girls they fancy. Boys should learn to take a punch
Men and women teach and uphold these ‘standards’ in our generations from a young age, and we do too, because it’s how we too were raised. A sort of yard stick to hold boys up against in what we expect for them to become as upstanding ‘real’ men. Women reciting the lists when creating fantasy men almost always fall into a stereotypical tick list of what we have been taught is the standard for MEN. We are equally guilty of continuing toxic masculinity in how we raise our sons. This way of teaching creates men with certain traits and beliefs, showing them what is normal male behaviour and can be harmful to not only women but men too..
Such as –
Shame, disassociation and avoidance of emotional expression. ( a huge problem among men and the root of many suicides and hidden mental health conditions)
Extreme self-reliance. (bottling up emotions, handling things alone, not sharing problems with loved ones and suffering from self induced mental isolation)
Extreme aspiration for physical, sexual and intellectual dominance. (Only alpha males and the most macho of men are seen as worship-able, right? it’s normal for men to be agressive)
Devaluation of women’s opinions, body and sense of self. (being egged on my your mates to get laid, cat call , feel up the waitress, sexist remarks, mansplaining etc )
Condemning anything feminine within another man. (That guy is a pansy, hits like a girl, walks like a girl, etc)
In it’s original meaning, the term ‘toxic masculinity’ is a way to gather and identify cultural and social traits which are the enemy of men, not just women. They have so many damaging effects if a male cannot live up to what is expected.
It is not an attack on men. It’s a phrase that has existed (first coined by a MAN) since the 80’s to highlight the pressure we put upon males to conform and in turn these traits create so many issues in society. It condemns harmful traits…not men.
Gillette put across the message very well, very clearly. They didn’t just show men as bad, behaving terribly, they showed a lot of men already stepping up to make changes in our society. Recognising the issues and taking a stand. They showed ‘real’ men defending women, stopping boys being taught to solve disputes with their fists, bullying, harassment. All things which are a product of toxic masculinity.
Men are not being attacked for being masculine, the advert was merely asking them to pay attention and make a change. To reset the standards of what a real man should be – the best a man can be.
It’s 2019 isn’t it about time we throw off our archaic standards and faulty yard sticks and show men that they can be any damn thing they want to be. That being a real man is not about meeting a criteria and adhering to societal pressure to measure up.
Real men feel; they share, they stand up for women and they are comfortable enough in their own skin to show us emotion and tears. To share their problems and responsibility. To respect women. To accept men who are different. Real men can still be macho and strong and dominant. That is not Toxic masculinity. It’s what you do with your masculinity that defines it.
If you see the advert as only an attack, then you need to take a long hard look in the mirror and ask yourself why.