Gillette and Toxic Masculinity
Don’t think for a moment that the controversial Gillette commercial is attempting to redefine masculinity. I doubt that Proctor & Gamble executives met to discuss their part in helping guide the cultural attempt to construct its perfect man. As with most corporations, market share, growth, and bottom lines dictate high-level conversations. But maybe with threats like Dollar Shave Club and more bearded millennials walking around, they thought re-positioning themselves in the market by attaching themselves to the #MeToo movement would be worth the risk. Time will tell.
For any company to throw themselves in the cultural political correctness arena can be treacherous. Culture is as fickle as a mob. Just a few grains of sand have fallen in the hour glass since commercials were depicting men as buffoons and imbeciles. It can be confusing trying to figure out if we’re toxic or idiots. The fickleness is real. For instance, the sexual revolution of the sixties ushered in the “free love", "imagine there’s no rules" culture and now men are being punished and criticized for living out what past culture deemed acceptable. Don’t get me wrong, men should be held accountable and flogged for bad behavior. The point is that cultural rule-makers change positions faster than a chameleon changes color. Taking cues from culture could have future unintended consequences.
I’m grateful that the commercial raised awareness to the power that men have and how they use that power matters. If using the word power makes you uncomfortable, let me take it a step further. You were born a weapon and are responsible for the use of that weapon. When I took my carry conceal class, our instructor made it extremely clear that our name was imprinted on every bullet that exited the chamber of our weapon. The same is true for manhood. When used in a righteous, noble fashion, those around us feel protected, secure, and free to flourish. Children learn healthy boundaries and a moral code that eventually governs them. Self-esteem is in balance and anxiety is erased. However, when used in an unrighteous, untethered way, those around us feel domineered, demeaned, unprotected, and imprisoned.
Like men, women were created in the image of God, with equal value but with different functions and abilities. We should be their champions, not their masters.
The truth is we should stand against the mistreatment of women, sexual harassment of any kind and childhood bullying. Like men, women were created in the image of God, with equal value but with different functions and abilities. We should be their champions, not their masters. Children are arrows in our quiver that we whittle straight and sharp. When released into the world, they hit their mark of having Godly character and they take hold of their responsibility. Gentlemen, we're not just raising future men, we’re raising future husbands and fathers. Take a moment and let that statement sink in. There’s overwhelming evidence that both boys and girls are healthier, happier, and achieve more with an engaged, responsible father that is present in the home.
They did use the one phrase that drives men crazy—toxic masculinity. Typically, it implies that men are bad, aggressive, sexist, emotionless beings that need to be re-framed to reflect a more sensitive, emotional, caring, and less aggressive male. I do agree that masculinity is in crisis and confused. But it’s not because we’re living up to our greatest version and find it lacking but rather, we have settled for living to our lesser desires. When 70% of church going men have some form of sexual struggle, gentlemen we’ve settled for the lesser version of who we were designed to be. Don’t take that as condemnation but rather a realization we were built for more.
If our culture is seeking to build the perfect man, it should look no further than to the one who was perfect.
There was one scene that was highly offensive. As they panned across a smoke filled shot of men of different ages and from different ethnicities, each standing behind a charcoal grill, there was NO MEAT on the grill! There’s nothing inherently wrong with grilling corn, but to have that many grills without a steak, rib, or burger sizzling in the background is just shameful. Do they mean to imply that all shaven men are vegetarians?
If our culture is seeking to build the perfect man, it should look no further than to the one who was perfect. We search out the best doctors when we’re dealing with serious diseases or the best mechanic, electrician, plumber, or attorney when faced with issues that need a professional. There’s only been one professional man. His name was Jesus of Nazareth. We only need to look to him and follow the plan (the Bible) his father designed to help us build noble masculinity.
So, let’s not get too uptight about what could have been done better in this commercial, but be grateful for the good that can come out of it. It made the case that men shouldn’t grab the backside of a woman, demean women in the work place, let our children be bullies, and that we should stand up for noble masculinity. Women and children are better when we live to our best.
With the right perspective and attitude, you could use this as a tool to start meaningful thoughtful conversations with men who need men like you. Let the conversations begin!
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JT McCraw is the men’s pastor at Bethel World Outreach in Brentwood, TN, a John Maxwell certified Life Coach/Trainer/Speaker and founder of the BE MEN Movement, where he provides oversight for this multi-ethnic, multi-site men’s ministry, focusing on activating, challenging & training men for their journey to authentic manhood. Presently they have locations in Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Alabama and Arizona. JT lives in Franklin, TN with his wife of twenty-eight years and has five incredible children. You can follow JT on Twitter @jtmccraw.