I was talking to another guy about all this and he said, “I think that ad was a waste.” I couldn’t disagree more, because even if you don’t ever like it, it’s sparked a much needed discussion. I am a great admirer of the man you talked about who has made friends with KKK members. It’s only by really getting to know other people that we can see them more fully as fellow human beings and perhaps bridge some gaps.
I wrote a piece yesterday that invited dialogue around this ad and specifically tagged some of the men that I’ve become friendly with during my time on Medium. About half of them hated it and half thought it was just fine. You can’t please everyone, particularly when you are pushing the envelope.
I stand by my assertion that the main objection to it is that it hurts men’s feelings to be criticized. Part of the requirements of the man box is that you always look in control, never showing any vulnerability or weakness. To admit that you’ve participated either directly or indirectly in propping up a social system that is shitty to a lot of people breaches that. Allowing others to criticize you unchallenged is unacceptable. And this is also what I hear time and time again when discussing this subject: “I’m sick and tired of being vilified for being a White man.” Meanwhile, not unlike the Catholic church, White men are overwhelmingly responsible for the bad shit in our society. That doesn’t mean that all individual White men (or any men) are directly to blame, but it’s not wrong to name that demographic as having room to do better.
The Catholic church does not have the intention to do harm. In fact, it’s their intention to do good, but they still are responsible for some of the worst atrocities in history and do a lot of bad shit in current time as well. To pretend that isn’t so and never speak of it just because it’s not their stated intention and because there are Catholics everywhere who do not engage in these behaviors and they do some good things would be ludicrous. We still have ample standing to call out the Catholic church as an institution.
From the article linked above:
“So, in other words, the real issue isn’t with the message, but in how it was delivered. It’s not wrong to assert that many men behave poorly or that we have a social system that encourages men to perform masculinity rather than to just be the men they are. We just aren’t supposed to talk about that unless we also talk about why. Meanwhile, anyone who tries to talk about things like the performative masculinity of “the man box” or anti-social aspects of the way that many boys are socialized gets shouted down as attacking men. If it wasn’t respectful enough of the very real issues facing men right now, my question is how are we supposed to talk about trying to improve things without actually pointing to the ways in which they are currently bad — and do it in 30 seconds?”
A while back a guy on Medium posted a comment that said, “Not a great time to be a man.” My response was, “Well, it hasn’t be a great time to be a woman for the past 10,000 years.” I get that this is uncomfortable and although I do have some compassion for that, it does not extend to the place where we don’t get to talk about real harm being done because of someone’s fragile ego. How exactly are we supposed to advocate for creating a better society without pointing out what is wrong about it? I thought the ad did a quite sensitive and inclusive job of doing just that. It really positioned men as being in full control of charting the course for the future and completely acknowledged that not all men are the problem.
In my experience with asking them about it and reading/watching stuff on-line, men (present company excluded) who don’t like this ad feel that way because they don’t think things are all that bad and anyone who is pointing to an opportunity to do better is a whiny little bitch who should shut up. That’s not acceptable to me. #TimesUp for that shit! We need to do better by all of our citizens by dismantling these destructive paradigms and anyone with a big voice who is advocating for that has my approval.