We should all believe in better masculinity

I never got the chance to write about the Gillette advert and the absolutely insanity of the outcry by some men around it. Theres a ton of discussion, press and frankly shouting about it.

The best commentary/deconstruction I found of the debate is from Dr Nerdlove.

I released a video where I touched on the fact that Gillette released a new commercial that directly addressed toxic masculinity, asking men to do better and the reaction that a lot of people, mostly men, had to it.

As it turns out, I have a lot more to say about it because, well, it’s made people lose their goddamn monkey minds. This is an ad that is literally just saying “hey, men can do better” and people are acting as though this was the announcement that XY chromosomes have been made illegal and having chest hair means that you’re going to get rounded up to camps.

When I first saw the advert I felt impressed by the tone and expression.  Yes they must have known calling out toxic masculinity was going to have a big backlash but they did it anyway. Hopefully knowing how important it is.

The accusation that this is an attack on men and manhood is kind of absurd on its face. Because we see a lot of traditional positive masculinity in here. We see dads barbecuing over the weekend with their kids, dads propping up, teaching and encouraging their sons, nurturing their daughters. We see the guys calling out bad behavior and ending fights and showing respect for others. And we see fathers protecting other people and — importantly — teaching their sons to be brave.

It’s a little disingenuous to say that this is an attack on men when the point of the entire ad is all but literally spelled out for you:

We believe in the best in men.

If I was to add anything else to the advert it would be Tony Porter’s words.

My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman

Our liberation as men is tied to yours as women

Jordan Stephens

It was during a Christmas lunch at Pie & Ale, Rachel Wise pointed me towards a post in the Guardian and short video from Jordan Stephens.  Well worth watching and reading. Here’s one of the key parts…

It’s our responsibility as we become adults to acknowledge this pain and gain compassion for ourselves and acceptance of others. But for men in particular, when the patriarchy says that it’s OK to grab a woman’s ass, or tell her what to do, or watch too much porn or deny her space – and you accept this as a way of treating another human being – you deny yourself the opportunity to understand why you desired that comfort of power in the first place. The ego wants dominance and control. And the male ego is currently everywhere.

As far as I can see, this toxic notion of masculinity is being championed by men who are so terrified of confronting any trauma experienced as children that they choose to project that torture on to the lives of others rather than themselves.

What’s even more upsetting is that often when men allow themselves to feel this pain, it’s so new to them that they kill themselves. We live in a society where men feel safer killing themselves than acknowledging pain. Accepting the patriarchy from a place of false benefit will prevent you from ever truly loving yourself or understanding others. It’s OK to feel sad. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to have loved your mum and dad growing up. It’s OK to have missed them or wanted more affection. It’s OK to take a moment when you’re reminded of these truths. When you allow your brain to access these emotions, it knows exactly what to do. So nurture yourself. Talk honestly to the people around you, and welcome the notion of understanding them more than you have ever done before.

This is something I’ve written about a few times in previous posts.
I always refer back to Tony Porters talk

“My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman”