Thanks for your response to my question, although I don’t agree with it. Gilette’s catch phrase is “The best a man can get.” This ad is an extension of that. The very last frame says, “It’s only by challenging ourselves to do more that we can get closer to our best.” It’s entirely tied into their existing branding in the exact same way as the Nike ads using Kaepernick. Thanks for making that connection because it actually really bolsters the legitimacy of the ad.
It’s really not up as a matter of question whether some aspects of male socialization may have anti-social aspects. In fact, one of the critiques that I watched (the one from Rebel Wisdom, which is a large and fairly mainstream men’s work organizations -which is different from a men’s rights group) actually stipulated to this, but complained that the underlying reasons for it weren’t being addressed in the ad.
The bullying shown in this ad, for example, is simply an aspect of that. And yes, girls can be bullies too but it’s all part of dominance hierarchy e.g., patriarchy behavior. It’s been pretty definitively shown for many years now by scientific entitites that it is directly responsible for the high rate of suicide among men, which is due in large part to the social and emotional isolation that the “man box” requires. Things like bullying (and harassment which is a form of bullying) are outcroppings of the continual dominance posturing that is required to exist in a social system like ours where you climb the rungs by being the most ruthless.
As you may know, the American Psychological Association just released new guidelines which detail specific aspects and interventions for dealing with the effects of what has been largely termed “toxic masculinity.” “They are the latest in a series of guideline updates from the APA dating back to the 1960s, and were not a direct response to the #MeToo movement.” In other words, professional psychologists have identified and been concerned with “toxic masculinity” and how it affects men and boys mental health for nearly 60 years.
This is not to say that masculinity is toxic- which should be obvious but doesn’t seem to be. It is to say that a society that forces males to adhere to one narrow performance of masculinity rather than simply allowing men to be whatever kind of man they actually are, including a very traditional one, is harmful. Also that glorification of violence and emotional isolation for men as a badge of independence wreaks havoc on our society in a variety of ways. And it’s so patently and obviously harmful that they’ve had to craft specific aspects of psychological intervention to deal with it.
To feel nothing but criticized by this ad is to pretend there is nothing really wrong with our society. And that’s objectively not the case — and the bulk of what’s wrong is related in one way or another to the dominance hierarchy known as patriarchy, which is a social system and not just about men. The things that are wrong are quite often that way because we don’t make the effort to stand up to our friends or to teach our children — which is all that the ad is advocating for. We can all be better humans, but there’s only so much that can be addressed in one short ad spot and since The best a man can get is about and for men, it only makes sense that Gilette would focus there.
This “real man,” as defined by the Man Box, represents what is supposedly normative and acceptable within the tightly controlled performance of American male masculinity. He dominates our movies and television. He defines what we expect from our political leaders. He is the archetypal sports star. He is our symbol for what is admirable and honorable in American men. And if he happens to get aggressive, belligerent and violent some times, well, that’s just the price of real masculinity.
And to be clear, although the Man Box defines and enforces what is considered to be “real manhood” women are as culpable as men in the policing and the enforcing of its harsh rules. When American men attempt to express masculinity in more diverse ways, it can often be the women in their lives who force them back into the Box.
“In the end, patriarchy gives only a few men access to power in society, and most men some small access to power in relation to women, robbing all men of core aspects of their humanity. This is a raw deal of monumental proportions. I see this as the core source of violence: the physical, emotional, and spiritual brutalization of boys and men.”
The good news is, this system of enforced brutilization and constant vying for dominance at the expense of those around us is not inevitable.”
And that’s what this ad was saying. It’s not inevitable for these behaviors to be core aspects of our society because working together we can co-create a better one by speaking up about things that are unacceptable behaviors — to our friends and co-workers and to our children. That’s all………
And I don’t think it was a waste simply because it’s sparking good conversations — so although we don’t see eye to eye I appreciate the opportunity to talk about it.