A tale of two ads

The following two adverts were made by the same director, but there’s something very different about the messages they are sending to their respective target audiences.
This first ad, commissioned in the UK by The National Lottery was designed to encourage women of all different shapes and sizes to get involved in sport and exercise. The message is all about confidence, body positivity and encouragement for women and girls and I think it’s a great message that we can all get behind. Now let’s contrast that aspirational, positive, encouraging message to women and girls with an advert the same director produced for Gillette Razors targeted at men.
Can anyone spot the difference? The positive message women receive is in stark contrast to the man shaming message of the Gillette ad. The closest we get to a positive message is a portrayal of “some” men, almost entirely non-white men, being different to the series of lazy negative stereotypes laid out at the feet of men as a collective.

Bullying

The very first word you hear is “bullying”. As someone who has been on the receiving end of bullying, an anti-bullying message is something I can get behind but bullying is not a problem unique to men, it is certainly not something I would associate with masculinity. In fact, from what I have observed of the viciousness of gangs of girls bullying other girls, and how grudges seem to continue for much longer, I wonder whether women and girls are actually capable of taking bullying to levels beyond the imagination of their male counterparts? The Different Ways That Girls Bully Gang of girls visciously attack 12 year old girl Girls gang up on boys in new cyberbullying craze called ‘roasting’, expert warns/

Me Too?

The very next thing we hear is a voice over about the Me Too movement. The Me Too movement started as a campaign to highlight issues of certain film producers and directors in Hollywood that abused their role to take advantage of young women desperate to become actresses in a cut-throat industry. Of course, I do not condone anybody exploiting the desires of other human beings in such a way, however, I think it’s important to distinguish between genuinely abusive situations and other situations where young actresses have willingly and conscientiously chosen to engage in sexual behaviours because they thought it would help them land a dream role. Whilst every complaint should be taken seriously and investigated, by the police, not social media, I believe that the original, noble intentions of the women and men whose bad experiences started the movement has now been turned into a retrospective rewriting of history, whereby activities participated in voluntarily are now being re-evaluated as abusive by some very rich, successful actresses and actors that are trying to stay relevant and keep themselves in the public eye. It has also been hijacked by those complaining about the most trivial of social interactions, and indeed the kind of interactions that occur in both directions in the romantic relations between men and women to create a climate of fear and mistrust between men and women. This anti-male propaganda is also being used to try to dismantle the foundations of our legal systems with the reversal of the concept of “innocent until proven guilty”, resulting in many young men losing their careers, without the opportunity to defend themselves, even when they have the evidence to prove that the allegations are untrue.

The Uncomfortable Truth About Campus Rape Policy Protecting Due Process in Sexual-Assault Cases on Campus Three situations where false allegations ruined lives Sexual assault cases: Guilty until proven innocent?

Toxic Masculinity

Perhaps the most objectionable concept thrusted upon men (without their consent, I might add) is the notion of Toxic Masculinity. Masculinity is simply the word to describe characteristics associated with male behaviour. Toxic Masculinity is an post-modernist ideological construct used to create an association between some of the worst behaviour of human beings and the state of being male. Behaviours such as bullying, violence and sexual harassment are not behaviours unique to men, nor are they characteristics we should associate with as typical of male behaviour. This is not to say that men cannot behave badly and do some of these things, but it is unacceptable and according to the advertising standards authority’s report, harmful even, to portray negative gender stereotypes. I cannot imagine a scenario whereby it would be deemed acceptable to use negative female gender stereotypes as the basis for a campaign to change female behaviour in an advertisement when something as benign as asking “Are you beach body ready?” gets banned

Sexual Harassment?

What follows is a series of out of context clips taken from television shows depicting wolf whistling, bum squeezing, and phrases such as “whose the daddy”, which if seen in the context of the comedy it was taken from you would understand is an exaggerated parody of men in the first place.

Of course, genuine sexual harassment is bad and should not be condoned but if you ask any reasonably attractive male waiter, bar tender or entertainer, you will understand this is not one way. There is a blatant double standard when it comes to what kinds of behaviours are deemed acceptable when it comes to men and women. If we are going to redefine the realms of acceptable behaviour between men and women, then it needs to be a two way street, women need to be acknowledged to have agency and responsibility for their own behaviours, just like men are expected to.
Barmen stopped wearing kilts over drunken harassment
Male bar tenders don’t like getting sexually harassed either When the accused is a woman: a #MeToo story’s lessons on gender and power A difficult #MeToo question: How many women are accused of sexual harassment?

Boys will be boys

Perhaps the most egregious clip of all involves a scene where a couple of boys are rough playing on the ground, whilst a long line of men with barbecues repeat the mantra “boys will be boys”. Rough play is often construed as violence by gender ideologues that believe that men and women are interchangeable blank slates, with the only difference between the sexes being social conditioning.
Another way to say that is they think that boys are defective girls and that typical boyish behaviour is a problem that needs to be “unlearnt”. Not only is this message completely wrong, it is harmful. Rough play is not about violence, it’s about learning where boundaries are, it’s about letting off steam, burning off some of that energy young boys have and it’s about physical play. Engaging in such activity is good for boys (and girls for that matter) and it’s a very natural behaviour that leads to well adjusted children. Do boys need rough and tumble play? Academic calls for more rough and tumble play
In my opinion, it is no coincidence that at the same time the number of boys with access to male role models at home and in school has diminished, and the amount of time available for physical play activities has been dramatically reduced that we have seen such a rise in the number of diagnosis’s of conditions like ADHD. These days, normal male behaviour is being pathologised. Female teachers can’t always understand the ways of boys and how they need to be treated to get the most out of them the same way that male teachers wouldn’t have the same understanding of what it is to be a young girl. Teachers Give Higher Marks to Girls We seem to recognise this when it comes to girls, highlighting the importance of positive female role models but boys are being left behind. Adverts like this continue the trend of what it means to be a boy or a man being dictated to men by women that have no “lived experience” of masculinity. There is certainly a need for discussion about masculinity in the modern world but the message needs to be positive, it needs to come from men themselves, and preferably not those that have already been indoctrinated to believe masculinity is bad, and women need to learn to listen to what men are saying, without judgement or defensive mechanisms. It is not a healthy environment when men are simultaneous told they need to be more expressive about their thoughts and feelings and yet simultaneously shot down for expressing any emotions that are inconvenient to gender ideologues. The response to this advert is a classic example, it has receive a huge outpouring of criticism from men and women alike for the negative portrayal of men which has been greeted with commentaries that completely fail to empathise with men, accusing them of disliking the advert because they support behaviours like sexual harassment when in reality, they are simply rejecting the portrayal that all but a “few good men” are sex pests, bullies, etc etc. Boys will be boys is not something I hear in common parlance other than when a mum sees her young son covered in mud, five minutes after getting dressed, or when he starts building a den out of the laundry. Yes, boys will be boys, because boys ARE boys, and that is a very beautiful thing, it is not something synonymous with sexual harassment as implied by this twisted piece of misandry.

An old trick

In truth, this advert is nothing new. Society has being using shaming to try to dictate male behaviour for as long as we have been able to communicate. It’s a technique that only works because of men’s instincts to protect and provide for women. I am not surprised by the reactions of some men that can see no issue with the advert, because men are in constant competition with other men. It’s just another dominance hierarchy based around whom can be the most utility to women. The idea that you are that one good man, morally superior to the other men around you, is great for the ego and gives you the opportunity to be the white knight hero, coming charging in on his steed to save the women from the baddies. If there is any element of masculinity that is harmful to men, perhaps it is our willingness to throw ourselves under the bus when that false siren calls. Men do not have the same in-group bias that women have. Women are naturally much better at co-operating with each other and collectivising in general. It’s simply a result of how our sex roles have evolved through a process of evolution. Men that didn’t compete, didn’t get to pass on their genetics through mating as women are the gatekeepers to reproduction, which is more costly to their bodies than it is for men. This is not to say that men don’t co-operate at all, in fact, they’re very good at it within that protector-provider role. When the proverbial excrement hits the fan, whether it be a natural disaster, young boys trapped down a cave, you will see just how well men will work together to be the heroes, to protect their loved ones, to throw caution to the wind with the dangers they have to expose themselves to in a way that women just don’t do, on average. If only we could evoke that spirit to reject this twisted, lopsided notion of what masculinity is. The Gillette advert was a call to men to act so I’m going to finish this piece with a call to action for women. Ladies, if you care about your sons, your fathers, your brothers, and I know you do, you need to stand up against this negative stereotyping of men and call it out for what it is, misandry. Speak up for the boys because they won’t speak out for their own self interest, but if they know you love them just the way they are, that you accept and need their masculine energy that has brought so much goodness to the world, they will listen to you. Ladies and Gentlemen, masculinity isn’t toxic. Masculinity is selfless, brave, determined, courageous, inventive, kind, disciplined, protective and beautiful. If you agree with me, please make a public stance and share this piece!
#MenAreGood #MasculinityIsBeautiful

2 comments

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *