Gillette’s new ad about toxic masculinity and the importance of setting a good example for boys has received mixed reviews and some predictable blowback. It’s astonishing how the term can be misconstrued as if it was an attack on men rather than an attack on the worst of what men can be.
As if seeing women being harassed in the street and doing something is unmanly. Or watching a weaker kid get beat up and walking by is a virtue men should strive for.
If your masculinity is so fragile that being told it’s wrong to belittle women at work sends you into a chest pounding rage, not only are you doing manhood wrong, you’re doing decent humanity wrong.
Isn’t it strange how an ad that shows men standing up for others is viewed as a threat to masculinity? That toxic shit runs deep doesn’t it?
Toxic is a term used to describe something that’s bad for you. There’s nothing wrong with being masculine or embracing the things that make men men. But when those things hurt other people, or even yourself, it can only be described as toxic.
Men not reaching out for help when they need help is probably the best example of toxic masculinity I can think of. Feeling suicidal and not telling anyone, knowing you have something wrong and not going to a doctor, or living your entire life without once thinking how you feel matters. That’s toxic, and toxic is the only word that fits.
“We expected debate,” Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette’s North America brand director, told CNN Business. “Actually a discussion is necessary. If we don’t discuss and don’t talk about it, I don’t think real change will happen.”
He said he hopes men who watch the video will be inspired to act like role models and show younger boys how to stand up to bad behaviour and treat others with respect.