Gillette: The Worst a Man Can Get
Has the Marxist assault on masculinity pushed men too far?
So far, 2019 seems to be establishing itself as a year in which the cultural Marxists are intensifying their war on traditional masculinity. But it may turn out to be the year in which the misandrist tide begins to turn.
In just the last week, the American Psychological Association (APA) caused a stir by declaring traditional masculinity – “marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression” – to be a “harmful” mental disorder. Then People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), sharing online a grotesquely suggestive video declaring that “Traditional masculinity is dead,” suggested that we “cure toxic masculinity by going vegan.” In another example, the New York Times posted a piece last Friday praising “The New Angry Young Men: Rockers Who Rail Against ‘Toxic Masculinity’” with songs that “protest old notions of manhood.” The article concludes with one singer declaring, “Toxic masculinity is real.”
It is not real. Toxicity is not an inherent feature of masculinity, just as “stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression” are not inherently bad – far from it, in fact. Without those propulsive masculine qualities, which the APA deems harmful, humankind would never have elevated itself from cave to civilization. Unfortunately, the term “toxic masculinity” has become deeply embedded in our cultural consciousness now and is being conflated intentionally with traditional masculinity. That’s because the endgame of the totalitarians pushing this concept is to emasculate Western civilization in order to erect a collectivist utopia in its stead.
But the most controversial assault on masculinity in the last week was razor company Gillette’s release of a two-minute promotional video called “We Believe: the Best Men Can Be.” It immediately went viral with well over 19 million views (as of this writing) and spurred a massive backlash. Down-votes on YouTube were originally running at a 10-to-1 ratio over up-votes (that gap narrowed quickly and suspiciously to a 2-to-1 ratio). “Bullying… the Me Too movement against sexual harassment… masculinity,” the voiceover begins, clearly linking all three and depicting various examples of ugly behavior on the part of (almost exclusively Caucasian) boys and men. “We believe in the best in men,” the voiceover intones unconvincingly, after shaming men collectively for the worst in men. “To say the right thing, to act the right way. Some already are, in ways big and small. But some is not enough. Because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.”
Encouraging men to aspire to their best character is actually an admirable message. Men should strive to be the best husbands, fathers, sons, the best men they can be. Bullying and sexual harassment (neither of which is exclusive to men, by the way) are unacceptable. But consider the context in which this ad appeared: the aforementioned APA report labeling traditional masculinity harmful; the ongoing demonization of men via the out-of-control #MeToo movement; the relentless messaging that masculinity is an outmoded cliché, something that must be discarded for us to evolve; and behind all this, literally decades of vicious browbeating from feminists whose goal is not equality but the eradication of masculinity. Then along comes this virtue-signaling Gillette ad stating that only “some” men are decent and the rest are pigs.
For many, that may have been the last straw. Social media swarmed with men (and supportive women) swearing off Gillette products. Op-eds defending masculinity, and denouncing the ad as ill-advised at best, abounded.
A PR expert quoted at The Guardian (a publication which devotes a significant amount of space to bashing norms of masculinity) praised the ad and said, “It is no longer enough for brands to simply sell a product. Customers are demanding that they have a purpose – that they stand for something. Masculinity is a huge part of Gillette’s brand, and there is a recognition in this ad that the new generation is reworking that concept of masculinity, and it is no longer the cliché it once was.”
Some have put forth the argument that Gillette, whose tagline used to be “The Best a Man Can Get,” was making not a political statement but simply a calculated marketing move for publicity, much like Nike did last year by making the cop-hating Communist Colin Kaepernick the face of a highly controversial “Just Do It” campaign. That argument falls apart in light of the fact that the creator of the Gillette video is “philosophically unpleasant” feminist Kim Gehrig, of the UK-based production agency Somesuch. Gehrig was behind an ad campaign for Sport England called “This Girl Can” and “Viva La Vulva,” an ad for a Swedish feminine hygiene brand “which boldly challenged the stigmas around women’s periods,” according to AdWeek. The ragingly misandrist Jezebel website reported that Gehrig sent an email to CNBC which read, “At the end of the day, sparking conversation is what matters. This gets people to pay attention to the topic and encourages them to consider taking action to make a difference.”
So presumably the motive for the Gillette ad was more activism than profit, although of course the company hoped to score the same net boost in customers that Nike’s Kaepernick ad did. As The Intelligencer points out, however, the difference between that ad and Gillette’s is that the former “is uplifting rather than accusatory.” By contrast, the Gillette ad is a “downer.” (For a more uplifting, sympathetic take on masculinity, check out this video response to the Gillette ad from Egard Watches.)
Of course, the Left embraced the ad (imagine their apoplectic outrage if an ad campaign dared to address “toxic femininity”). One male Twitter user remarked that “if your masculinity is THAT threatened by an ad that says we should be nicer then you're doing masculinity wrong.” This is way off the mark. Men weren’t threatened by the ad; they were insulted by it. It sparked widespread anger because men are fed up with being demonized. They are fed up with having masculinity equated with bullying and sexual harassment. They are fed up with being told that their very nature is poisonous and that redefining masculinity means acting like stereotypical women. Countless good men who are quietly leading lives as protectors and providers and role models and unacknowledged heroes are fed up with the cultural insistence that masculinity is a dire problem instead of a dynamic life force.
The pushback against the Gillette ad and the APA report are evidence that the Marxist assault on Western masculinity is finally beginning to be met with resistance. Men and the women who love traditional masculinity (i.e., the majority of them) are getting mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore.