The self-appointed last line of defense in the “war on boys” has never looked so fragile, after this Gillette ad about acceptable male behavior has triggered high-pitched shrieks of horror from the guardians of manhood.
A few have caught themselves in mid-alto shriek and quickly shifted to grunting to compensate.
A great push-back piece from Reason lists some of the more notable conservative outrage:
“The Gillette commercial is the product of mainstream radicalized feminism—and emblematic of Cultural Marxism,” wrote Turning Point USA’s Candace Owen, a conservative pundit. Right-leaning author Michael Knowles accused Gillette of “granting the premises of SJW jackals.” And over at National Review, Ben Shapiro claimed that the company was “kowtowing to leftist social priorities” in order to “inoculate [itself] from the woke scolds of the Left.”
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if some pundits are just pandering to the baser instincts of certain audiences or if they really believe what they say. And I say this as a conservative. Reactionary rage-porn can be highly profitable, and a pundit’s got to do his or her job well to keep their edge.
Reason goes on to note the obvious:
Yes, the ad invokes “toxic masculinity,” an ill-defined concept sometimes deployed by the campus left in overbroad ways. But most of the ad depicts men deciding not to bully each other, harass women, or commit violence. Are these really “leftist social priorities”? Do conservatives really wish to portray them as such?
Matt Walsh wasted no time getting in front of the parade. But he created a straw man saying that the ad claimed the “MeToo” movement was the point that changed it all. The ad never says such a thing, and despite the inclusion of a few related video clips, it doesn’t imply it, either. It merely says we need to change, and that we will. Walsh’s bit is one more crafted victimhood narrative of its own, and a falsehood designed to provoke conservative resentment—all those marxy things conservatives allegedly hate about the leftist media.
I would say all this knee-jerk reacting is particularly effeminate for alleged manly men and spokes-men for manhood these days . . . but that would be an insult to women. Effeminate is not the right word for being overly-sensitive and soooo triggerable. It is immature, and perhaps immoral as well. It is certainly immoral when it leads to crafting falsehoods to stoke others.
Some people seem to think the ad stereotypes all men, when in reality, they think, these problems are limited to a small minority. The problem the ad is highlighting however is not the prevalence of the problem, but the prevalence of the attendant problem of excusing it, or finding excuses to ignore it, which is more common.
In this light, the ad is calling men to . . . be real men and do something about it when they encounter it.
I don’t see any problem with this ad at all. The reaction does nothing but expose just how paranoid and fragile some egos masculinity in our society can be. Despite all of the memes created over the past years of feminists in utter outrage-meltdown “trigger” mode, suddenly the readiest place to see the most sensitive of hair triggers is right here in the mirror for some of these pundits and keyboard warriors. It’s not a good look for masculinity.
Instead of knee-jerk reactionism to a few catchwords, instead of a stampede of outrage triggered by a polarized prejudice of who gets to be in control of saying that which is true, how about some calm, cool, deliberate consideration of facts and morals? How about we just assess the need, accept the challenge, and rise to meet it?
Instead, we let the perceived source of the message be a reason we dismiss it. That’s exhibiting the very problem the ad highlights: excusing, dismissing, inaction. That’s exhibiting the very thing you hate in the worst of the political left: label, react, stigmatize, and cry!
If you’re part of that problem, then what Gillette just did was hand you a mirror in which you can see how much you look just like the mindless, outrage-mongering “libtards” you meme all the time.
We are great at standing by. We are great at tolerating wrongs, especially those we perceive to be less severe, like mansplaining or minor bullying. But the truth is that we do this because it requires less of us in terms of action and risk—and these are the very things that are supposed to separate the men from the boys. The ad simply calls men to be men, and to be good men. Step up, take action, be a force for good.
Risk-taking is supposed to separate the men from the boys and girls. Manlier men are not supposed to be risk-averse. We naturally understand this in terms of rock climbing, wrestling, or even entrepreneurship. But that’s entry-level understanding. An ad like this reminds us that putting morality into action requires risk as well. It involves the risk of instigating the ire of our own friends and peers. If you don’t protect the egos of some men, including some leading men, and instead threaten the safety of their unique (and well-disguised) safe space, you risk brining down their wrath upon you.
That ego is always afraid, and always afraid to let it show. Always trying to project lack of fear, yet always seeking a safe-space for its image of lack of fear. And so we stand by. We’d rather minimize the sin than risk be called an unmanly name by other men.
Fancy this: those elements most averse to acknowledging and addressing the problems of harassment and bullying are also the most eager to use bullying, intimidation, fear, and shame to prevent you from doing so, too. And you let them?
Now the real test for your integrity comes when standing for what is right will receive its fiercest and most irrational ridicule from the very people who ought to be exemplifying manliness and standing for the protection of the weak—our own conservative and Christian community.
Polarization is part of the problem, too. We think if a liberal said it, it must be opposed. Some people fancy themselves standing against the tide because they oppose the liberals. But even if a liberal speaks a truth, it’s true, and if it needs to be spoken, they’re meeting a need you’re not. Standing against the tide will win you a few likes from the base, but it comes at the cost of opposing the truth.
I suppose the greatest element of shame here is the fact that, once again, a secular source has done a better job at preaching the truth to real-world social issues than most pulpits do. The instinct-herded followers of the catchwords and celebrity pundits will find shelter and fodder in a well-crafted narrative that the left and secularists are taking over the world and real Christians are more and more persecuted and pushed to the fringe. But it’s hard to take seriously that you’ve been pushed to the fringe when you already had yourselves on the sideline to begin with. Nevertheless, we’ll hear of the leftist agenda, march through the institutions, the decline of the west, and the persecution of Christianity once again.
A better example of victimhood-narrative has never been invented.
Instead of driving Christian men to stand up and do something about real problems, it keeps them on the sideline inactive and complaining.
But, but . . . that BBQ scene insulted me!
Here’s what our own ideal of masculinity would say to us right now: get over it, cupcake. And it would be right. The ad didn’t insult us. It insulted our fallen ego. It called men to be better men, period. What Christian man in his right mind would not support that?
Instead, some men are talking boycott, boycott! Since when did defending the weaker quit being a virtue? Since when did a slight challenge become a threat?
Some men however seem to think it is. Sorry that is the case, but it perfectly exhibits the stereotype some have perceived in the ad. “Boys will be boys.”
That’s right, and some men will be boys, too. In the presence of such men, boycott was never more aptly named. Maybe they will call their boycott a “man-cott” so their safe space has the right façade.
In the meantime, the churches could prevent all of this by taking leadership on these issues.