Gillette’s new ad against toxic masculinity has taken the internet by storm. But it has been a disastrous failure. As of now the video has received 699k dislikes compared to 324k likes. A look at comments all across the internet reveal that the male base is outraged by the ad. How could an ad that only says, “bullying is bad, sexual assault is bad, etc” produce such outrage? If you listen to The Young Turks, this outrage only comes from the “crying conservatives” who are a “tiny, tiny minority.” Which is a ridiculous explanation given that the response of the majority is negative. Cenk mockingly says that the issue is whether men “should be good guys or monsters”, and that these males are trigged because they’re asked to be good. Cameron of Capturing Christianity shared (but did not endorse) a meme that claims male insecurity mostly explains the outrage:
Again, ridiculous. It essentially calls men insecure for being offended at being called insecure. Triggers only apply to irrational impulsive responses, especially one grounded in psychological projection and hasty generalizations. By contrast, being offended at slander is a rational response. And besides, are we really supposed to believe that most men are outraged because they are insecure whenever they’re told assault is bad? Come on! No man is offended by the moral content of the ad, they are offended at the implicit message and how it is delivered.
Most men thought the ad unfairly depicted how most men are because most of the men in the ad were depicted badly. For example, there were a line of men behind BBQ grills justifying bad behavior with the phrase “boys will be boys.” The ad made “toxic masculinity” seem like an epidemic with its various news anchor clips. This offends most men because most men are in fact decent people who already oppose such bad behavior. They don’t need to be constantly lectured that it is wrong over and over again. And they especially don’t need it from a “multi-national company that was recently caught profiting off forced child labour and price fixing” (top YouTube comment).
A FB friend of mine objects to this, claiming that the ad does not indict all men as toxic, it only indicts the socialization that produces toxic traits in men. But this is just mumbo jumbo for saying that most men are toxic. After all, how can you have a social structure that produces toxic traits in men without making most men toxic? By definition a social structure affects the majority. Besides, the ad is so obviously about most men that it takes willful blindness to suggest otherwise. There is after all a reason why most men interpret it that way. And if your response is that, “Well that’s because most men are insecure so they project it onto the ad,” you are proving that this is about most men! Even Gillette confirms this on their own Twitter account:
Who could the “we” possibly refer to? The majority of their customer base. Men! They’re explicitly claiming that most men are excusing bad behavior and if you cannot possibly understand how this would upset males, you are beyond reasoning with. Imagine a stranger walked up to you and said, “You need to stop excusing bad behavior! But we can stop this bad behavior, together!” The natural response would be anger. This person knows nothing about you, and yet comes in making accusations against you. This is how the male audience feels toward this ad. If Gillette meant only to direct this ad toward a minority of males, then they should have depicted their ad differently. For example, they could have showed most of the males being decent human beings against a minority of males. Then toward the end say, “We are proud of our customers. You are the best that men can be. Let’s continue stopping bad behavior!”
But no, this is not the message that was given. They clearly feel that most males need to hear this message in order for them to see the light. Apparently we were all lost before Gillette came to show us the way! Thank goodness they created an ad to teach toxic males the error of their ways! Ultimately this is an attack on masculinity in general. There is a radical feminist agenda lurking behind the scenes that wants to deny that there is such a thing as objective masculinity. All masculinity is a social construct for them. As Christians we wholeheartedly deny this. Men are the head over the wife just as Christ is the head over the church (Ephesians 5:23). These differences in gender roles are grounded in real biological and psychological differences that are objective and fixed.
Like anything else, however, all good things can be abused. Sex is good, for example, but it can become toxic when we make it into an idol or lack self-control and end up committing adultery. Anything can become toxic. No male is denying this. Aristotle himself said that all virtues have their vices in having too little of a good trait or too much of a good trait. A virtue is having the right amount of that good trait. We do not deny that some male traits have been taken to the extreme, but often times this is because there is a lack of knowledge of what true masculinity is. Males are so desperate to flourish in an increasingly feminist world that they go to extremes to find fulfillment because they don’t know how.
You know what’s really toxic? Gillette’s ad.