Hi friends. I did a lot of arguing on Facebook today. Because I’m perennially lazy, I’m basically just gonna blatantly repost a bunch of the stuff I wrote. It’s still writing, right?
Hi friends, it’s 2019. Just a reminder that you can…
1) Have an opinion about something.
2) Learn new information.
3) Change your opinion.
You’re not stuck with your first opinion just because you had it.
1) I thought Paddington was gonna be a worthless kids movie solely made to cash in on a long deceased franchise.
2) It turns out the script is very funny and charming, and the film is a total pleasure to watch.
3) I now really like Paddington.
Then I got into a BIG discussion with two blokes about the recent Gillette ad addressing toxic masculinity. It took a while and got basically nowhere. So, no different from the rest of the internet. This was not created as a wall of text, but a number of comments that I’ve stacked together. I hope it makes some sense in this format.
Toxic Masculinity is not saying that masculinity is inherently bad, it’s saying that there are aspects about the way masculinity is commonly framed, presented and performed that aren’t helpful for anyone.
The idea that men have to be stoic and cannot show weakness leads to men holding in emotions, then letting them out in harmful ways. Whether this is anger, violence or suicide, it’s not great. It harms us men, and people of other genders often face the consequences of these emotional outbursts too.
The whole “boys will be boys” mentality often lets men off the hook for shitty behaviour, but the behaviour we excuse at a young age can lead to a lot of men thinking the same behaviour is acceptable and useful as an adult. It tells men that we’re not responsible for a lot of the shitty things we do, that it’s okay because we’re “just boys”.
I’m not sure why people have an issue with the idea of encouraging us to be more compassionate and caring about others. If you’re already not being shitty to others and exhibiting the kind of behaviour that this message opposes then congrats, it’s not about you. But just because you don’t do something, that doesn’t mean the message isn’t helpful for other men who are doing this stuff.
Does that make sense? I’m not trying to be aggressive or really point fingers here, but I do think that a lot of men are either hearing the wrong message, or intentionally professing ignorance to prevent having to challenge their own behaviour. It’s holding all of us back as a society.
Do you know how often women get approached by men? I don’t believe that it’s inherently wrong for men to approach women, but there’s gotta be some context, right? Had they made eye contact? Engaged in fun banter? Did she show signs of interest? Or did the guy see a woman he thought was attractive (who hadn’t even noticed him) and put his desires for contact above any indication that she was looking for it? Does this treat her as a human being? Or a potential walking vagina? I think it’s pretty important for us to challenge these behaviours and ask why we do them.
I think it’s very important to be able to separate the ideas of “This is not my experience” and “this isn’t real”. Nobody has ever punched me in the face, but that doesn’t mean getting punched in the face isn’t a real experience that people have had.
If you haven’t experienced the fallout of this kind of behaviour then sincerely, that’s fantastic. Would you not want to encourage the idea of other people not having to experience it too?
Also I’m pretty sure that on some level you have experienced the fallout of toxic masculinity whether or not you knew it. Have you ever felt insecure for not being assertive in a situation? Or feeling small when someone has physically threatened you? Or inadequate about the way you look if you’re not six foot with rippling abs?
The notion that we *have* to be a certain way to be sufficient can really tear us down and prevent us from being our best selves. It’s okay to not feel like an alpha all the time. It’s okay to feel weak and tender at times. Understanding these feelings lets us extend compassion to others who are going through hard times. I personally don’t see an issue with that, I don’t know about you.
A big turning point for me was when I realised that “not all men” really just means “the exception proves the rule.” If “not all men” are like this, but a lot of men are like that, and you’re not like that, then you being an exception proves that it’s a general rule. Ergo, the message isn’t about you. If you can ignore ads for cigarettes because you don’t smoke, then you can ignore messaging about shitty behaviours if you’re not exhibiting these behaviours.
Toxic Masculinity doesn’t say all men are bad, it also doesn’t say all women are perfect. It’s saying there are harmful behaviours that need to be addressed, it’s not saying there aren’t other harmful behaviours worth addressing. I feel like there’s a bunch of false equivalence going on here. If it were true that the incidence of female perpetrated sexual assault was on the rise, it’s very, very, very unlikely that there would be as many female sexual predators as male ones. It’s not that these things don’t happen or the behaviours aren’t worth condemning, but there’s an exponentially larger power dynamic that shifts the scales in a preferential manner towards men. There are exponentially more men in positions of power. There are a lot of people in positions of power who are abusing this power. Saying that a lot of men commit assault is not the same as saying that women don’t commit assault.
If 1000 people got stabbed with forks in the US in 2018, that would not be equivalent to the amount of gun deaths in the US in 2018. Overall, yes. People should not kill other people, but fork stabbings would not be an epidemic on the same scale or be as pressing to address as gun death.
I want to put it out there that I don’t give a shit about Gillette. I really don’t. They’re a shitty corporate entity like anybody else. This is not going to make me buy Gillette products, I don’t care about the brand and this hasn’t changed anything. I do believe that the message they’re spreading is important. I think we need to examine behaviours we’ve always taken for granted and challenge them, if we’re ever gonna grow. I wish this message wasn’t being bound to a corporation. At the same time, I know that this has gotten the attention and spread it has precisely because Gillette have the reach as a corporate entity. Gillette can fucking rot for all I care, but I can hold the views of “fuck Gillette” and “I believe in what they’re trying to say” simultaneously because I’m a thinking person and not a one-dimensional cartoon character.
If people start buying Gillette razors now instead of Schick, I do not give close to a shit. I’ve never cared about consumers’ razor purchasing habits before and I’m not gonna start now. If this message encourages any number of men to rethink talking over their female colleagues, approaching a disinterested woman in public for their own reasons without considering her perspective, giving unwanted physical contact to a woman, teasing young boys for having tender feelings, or getting into physical altercations to solve problems, then that’s something I do care about.
I wonder what I’ll argue about on the internet tomorrow…