I appreciate your perspective and agree that boys (and girls) need to do rough and tumble things but that was not what was shown in this ad. It was chasing and harassing and bullying and fighting. Those things are not necessary aspects of healthy masculinity. They never have been and they never will be.
This article is long, but also really balanced and nicely done and I encourage you to read it — from the mother of two boys. I too am the mother of a son.
When Gillette asks men “Is This the Best a Man Can Get?” what happens next?
The call to a post-patriarchal masculinity has growing pains. But they are worth it … and is there a choice?
“In the name of becoming or being recognized as a “real” man or “good” woman, our relational abilities come to be compromised or rendered ineefective.” (Darkness Now Visible, 3). Conflict resolution requires at some point a softening, an ability to relate to one’s own feelings and those of another, (be they anger, hurt, rage, grief), if access to critical feelings is cut off, conflicts remain un-resolved, leading us to develop a hardened heart, build walls between ourselves and each other, vowing to never love fully again.
This, then, is where we find, as Gilligan and Richards point out, the insidious, Roman divide-and-conquer strategy, which renders us un-able to work through conflict to reach resolution in our marriages, in our participation in a diverse democracy, and in the hard work of governance. With the latter example, we wind up with a polarized, ineffective government, peopled with politicians unable to grok the value of collaboration, compromise, or even healthy debate.
When the means necessary for resolving conflict (the capacity for empathy, mutual recognition, gained through a familiarity with our own inner emotional world and the world of others) are taken away, the separations and the misunderstandings, the shut-downs (no pun intended) continue unabated.
(For another beautiful and intelligent (psychoanalytic) inquiry into patriarchy, mutual recognition and gender, see the work of feminist psychoanalyst, Jessica Benjamin, Bonds of Love.)
What we get from this whole mess is that, instead of access to mutual recognition, empathy and the ability to see another’s points of view, our culture perpetuates an immature, contrived and isolating alternative: dominate (resolve the conflict on one’s own with the “right” answer, heartlessly) or submit (get along). Here, then, we return to the father-lode, gordion knot at the broken-heart of patriarcy, the one that’s given us patriarchy’s ‘last gasp’ in the form of Donald Trump, his base, Mitch McConnel, and the whole, obedient, loyal-to-the-father, GOP. But we also get the everyday misunderstandings and hostilities between men and women, and between each of us and those we hold different. Across the board, the means for regaining love in our relationship is foreclosed by the inner compromises in our souls that were forged in a patriarchal upbringing.”