A recent commercial put out by Gillette has received a lot of both positive and negative feedback. I am kind of shocked by how many people see the commercial in a negative light.
I actually like the commercial…most of it. Here’s why.
The commercial starts out with a question: “Is this a best a man can get?”
Good question…thought provoking. From that point the commercial shows examples of how classic cultural manhood can be bad.
Patronizing women in the workplace
I would totally agree that these are all examples of what I would define as “toxic masculinity.”
The next portion of the commercial is what I dislike.
The commercial shows two little boys wrestling in the yard and then has all the men saying, “Boys will be boys” from a undesirable perspective, as if wrestling or fighting for young men is a bad or toxic thing. Young men need to learn how to fight in a positive way. Fighting is one area that really defines manhood and separates it from womanhood. Men fight. We must teach them what to fight for. Fighting and standing up for the right thing is what makes men valuable to society. Many times young boys wrestling and fighting is a character building activity. I loved fighting and wresting with my friends growing up. Young boys learn through competition to be strong. It fosters their willingness to be courageous as men and to fight for the right things. So to some extent boys will be boys and this is not a bad thing.
Back to what I like…
The ad then states, “We believe in the best in men.”
The commercial then defines what Gillette would see as the best in men:
Men holding other men accountable…yes.
Men standing up to other guys who are objectifying women…awesome, yes!
Men standing up when others are bullied…yes.
Older men helping younger men resolve conflict in a positive way…yes.
Dads calling out their young girls to be strong…yes!
What I like the Most:
At the end of the commercial there is this line, “The Boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.”
This is a powerful line and oh so true. As a dad and a pastor this is a great reminder to me that there are young men looking at my example of what it means to be a man. I need to be a good example.
Why do many conservative voices seem to have a problem with this ad?
I believe many conservative men take issue with this ad because of how it starts. It starts with the cultural movement against manhood. Two catchphrases are used that are turn offs for many men, “Me Too” and “Toxic Masculinity.” Any average man (not even a good man but an average man) would agree that men should not abuse or take advantage of women. The ‘Me Too’ movement has been important in exposing predatory men but its primary torchbearers seem to be liberal women who espouse hatred to men in general or anything that is classically defined as manly. The movement seemed to start out as a positive one but then morphed into making good men feel guilty by association.
While the commercial does a pretty good job of showing forms of toxic masculinity, the phrase itself has felt like any semblance of what has been considered masculinity in the past is a bad thing. The phrase ‘Toxic Masculinity’ has been appropriated to feel like if anything is masculine it’s somehow evil, again, guilt by association.
The bottom line is that good and Godly men are needed now more than ever.
Good men stand up against evil.
Good men take responsibility for their family.
Good men make other men better.
Good men serve others.
Good men bear the burdens of those who are week.
A truly good man will lay down his life for his friend.
Jesus was the only truly good man. He is the example.