Praise for Gillette’s #MeToo ad on ‘toxic masculinity’

What is the opposite of toxic masculinity? I would suggest it is what Ray Rigoglioso refers to as “authentic masculinity” in his book, Gay Men and The New Way Forward, which is a balancing intelligence of the masculine and feminine energies or characteristics in gay men – but something I believe gay men can gift to the word, especially to straight men.

Earlier this week, Gillette released a video that has garnered both praise and toxic, abusive responses. Watch the video, “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be”:

Gillette is taking a stand with their project, The Best Men Can Be, stating that,

“It’s time we acknowledge that brands, like ours, play a role in influencing culture. And as a company that encourages men to be their best, we have a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man.”

“From today on, we pledge to actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man everywhere you see Gillette. In the ads we run, the images we publish to social media, the words we choose, and so much more.”

No doubt Gillette wants to capture a greater market, and there’s nothing wrong with that. They risk offending many “manly men”, who are acting childish, illogical, and like someone has taken away their favourite toy. The critics are up in arms, trying to defend their way of life, blind to the irony of their own toxic indignation.

I will be keeping an eye on Gillette to see if they hold up to their promise of “promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man.”

The problem with “Just let boys be damn boys.”

Piers Morgan tweeted his lack of understanding on the issue. I suggested,

Even more toxic is James Woods. His macho-bravado on Twitter exhibits a man fearful of change, liberal opinion, free thinking, gender equality, women’s rights, and powerful women in his Twitter feed:

If boys are to grow up to be healthy, emotionally balanced men, secure in their individuality as human beings, they won’t want to model James Woods for authentic masculinity! Modelling Woods will only lead to fearing the feminine, promoting and condoning oppression and violence in all its negative and toxic forms.

Where does toxicity masculinity orignate?

Far too many young boys are taught to “suck it up”, to “act like a man”, or to “stop crying like a little girl” while they are growing up. They are taught that expressing weakness in any form – physical or emotional – is akin to being a sissy or like one of the girls. They are forced to suppress their emotions, literally having to keep their feelings in the closet.

This is similar to gay men who have experienced living in the closet for years. We had to suppress our authentic identity before finally coming out. When you can’t fully express your truth it eats away at your soul and makes you toxic. This is why finally coming out is a release and a period of healing. 

For straight men who are taught to suppress basic human emotions in order to “be a man”, over time this “straight-closet” can manifest as toxic – a bile of pent-up emotions that comes out as rage, fear of the other, aggression and defensiveness.

Living OUT theme music: “Summer” by Bensound.com ~ Cover photo Gillette

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