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Last week, the American Psychological Association (APA) issued “guidelines to help psychologists work with men and boys.”
American Psychological Association
Also last week, Gillette released a viral ad invoking the #MeToo movement that some critics argued “was insulting to men and laden with stereotypes.”
Youtube, AP News
The left largely agrees with the APA’s report, and had mixed reactions to the Gillette ad.
“The age-old mistake, which has stunted countless lives, is the assumption that because physical hardship in childhood makes you physically tough, emotional hardship must make you emotionally tough. It does the opposite. It implants a vulnerability that can require a lifetime of love and therapy to repair and that, untreated, leads to an escalating series of destructive behaviours. Emotionally damaged men all too often rip apart their own lives, and those of their partners and children.”
“The striking thing about [conservative] responses is how they assume that traditional masculinity and men are one and the same… what if you're not that way? What if you're a boy who would rather play with dolls than guns? What if you're queer or trans? What if, as a man, you're sometimes depressed, or scared, as all human beings are?…
“In trying to live up to [traditional] ideals of manliness, men are often reluctant to ask for help when they are in distress. This can make it difficult for psychologists to identify depression in men, which is part of the reason why men are less often diagnosed with depression, and why they have suicide rates as much as three times that of women… Traditional masculinity [also] tends to celebrate male violence, which is partially responsible for the fact that men commit 90% of violent crimes.”
Interestingly, some say that “far from radical, the Gillette commercial is actually deeply traditional, even conservative, in its depiction of masculinity. Rather than an attack on manhood or a radical call to overthrow the patriarchy, the commercial instead celebrates men and affirms long-standing notions of masculinity as honorable and virtuous… the bulk of the commercial shows men saving the day: breaking up fistfights, defending a woman’s honor, fulfilling their parental duties. If chivalry had a national media campaign, this is what it would look like.”
“It doesn’t take a sociologist or a psychologist to recognize a lot of guilt and fear masquerading as anger… It’s not an attack on men, by the way. It's an attack on inappropriate and abusive behavior by men. So if you don't engage in that, what's there to worry about?”
Regarding its effectiveness, some say that the ad “is similar in spirit to, say, Dove’s long-running ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ campaign, which points out the many ways in which women can be their own worst enemy when it comes to their self-image. But while we are used to this type of prescriptive ad messaging targeting women and their emotions, men are more often appealed to with humor and lighthearted quips or sex-based appeals… [This ad] has made men think of Gillette as more than just another manufacturer of razors but as a brand with meaning and with values and, perhaps, part of their journey to manhood.”
Others think the ad fell flat. “The ad was directed by British agency Somesuch’s Kim Gehrig, who did the highly impactful 2015 This Girl Can advertising campaign for Sport England. But the feminist activism that animated both ads doesn’t have the same impact on both audiences. I love both these ads. They speak to me and inspire me. But I’m not the target of the second one… It’s taken decades for companies to learn to talk to women. Now the ruckus around Gillette’s latest ad, The Best Men Can Be, shows it’s high time we also learn to talk to the [modern] men.”
Finally, some point out that “the campaign is engineered to mine as much buzz from as many sources as possible. It’s a heat-seeking missile aimed at the thinkpiece industry. It’s also a kind of political Rorschach test built to twig the amygdalas of anyone at the intersection of outrage-prone and Twitter-adjacent. The only thing this ad campaign isn’t? A commitment to do anything other than sell razors.”
The right calls for a return to the positive aspects of traditional masculinity.
The right calls for a return to the positive aspects of traditional masculinity.
The ad “didn’t strike me as a reproof of masculinity per se but rather as a critique of bullying, boorishness, and sexual misconduct… Some men arebehaving really badly — harassing women, bullying each other, and failing in their family responsibilities… encouraging men to be non-violent, polite, and respectful is not anti-male. It’s just civilized…
“Conservatives should applaud that aspect of the Gillette message. Progressives, in turn, should grapple with the overwhelming evidence that the best way to raise honorable men is with two parents. We may wish it were otherwise, but fathers — as disciplinarians, role models, and loving husbands — are key to rearing happy, healthy, and responsible sons as well as self-confident, happy, and high-achieving daughters.”
“If we truly believe that young men are growing up inculcated into a toxic vision of masculinity, is that from too much traditional male influence or too little? Today, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 23 percent of American children live with a single mother. That percentage has tripled since 1960…
“More and more young boys lack male influence altogether… If you want to raise a generation of men who will treat women well, act as protectors rather than victimizers, and become the bedrock for a stable society, you need more masculinity, not less.”
“The social change Gillette and progressive activists want, it turns out, is a return to the moral and social values the conservative movement has been shouting from the rooftops for decades… Both young men and women have been told for decades to sexually objectify themselves and consider their impulses sacred rights rather than denying themselves through responsible behaviors. The culture has downgraded marriage and the family.”
“Men have been on a downward trajectory for some time now. Fewer men go to college, more men commit suicide, more men live at home with their parents well into adulthood. Men take the most dangerous jobs, they fight and die in our wars, yet they are told nonstop that they are terrible, and the future isn’t for them. They are expected to shrug it off because, well, they are men.”
New York Post
“To many men — and women, especially women with sons, I’d guess — criticism of ‘toxic masculinity’ at this particular cultural moment feels a bit like lefties lecturing Trump’s working-class base about white privilege. There’s merit to the criticism, but to someone who’s lower-class, with poor job prospects, buried in a community with addiction problems, ‘check your privilege’ isn’t just a hard sell, it’s potential cause for offense.”
“When taken in the context of all the other recent attacks on traditional masculinity—not least that recent APA report that diagnoses totally normal, typical male behavior as somehow dangerous and toxic—a disturbing pattern is starting to emerge. It’s almost as if this stuff is a concerted effort to devalue menentirely, hanging the sins of a boorish few on all of us.”
Some argue that “if we’re going to stick with the toxic masculinity shtick and guilt all men into expressing a more feminized ‘masculinity,’ we need to at least play fair and admit that women have their own issues that can be just as hurtful as men’s…
“Girls suffer at the hands of other girls in ways that often go unnoticed. Backstabbing, manipulating, gossiping, and other forms of relational aggression cause victims to suffer from high rates of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and profound loneliness and social isolation, which sometimes drive girls to suicide… Maybe the campaign we should all promote is ‘Can we all be better?’”
“As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump promised to put some reasonable limitations on how the United States conducted its post-9/11 wars across the Middle East… But on Tuesday night, Trump unambiguously backed Forever War. He vetoed a congressional resolution that would have ended American military involvement in the Yemeni civil war—a conflict that has killed an estimated 50,000 people (scores more have died in a famine triggered by the conflict) without having any significant bearing on U.S. national security.”
Eric Boehm, Reason
Canada battles Norway for tallest moose statue.