3 takeaways from the Gillette commercial fallout
Why are so many triggered?
850,000. That’s how many “dislikes” this Gillette commercial has received on Youtube as of Thursday morning, January 17, 2019. And, there’s strong dislike of it among some of my Facebook friends. Here are my takeaways.
First, I haven’t seen the Right this “triggered” since Colin Kaepernick, and both times, the reason they were offended were ironic. With Kaep, the issue was kneeling during the national anthem as a silent protest against cops shooting unarmed African-Americans; the Right viewed that as anti-American. But ironically, the American Right puts the interests of another country, Israel, ahead of America’s. (There is no other reason to be hostile toward Iran.) The Right’s patriotism isn’t even genuine.
As to the Gillette commercial, remember that in late 2017 and all through 2018 the Right gleefully pointed out that Harvey Weinstein was a major Democratic Party donor. But when a commercial calls out the Weinsteins and Bill Clintons of the world, and tells other men to stop covering for them, the Right views it as a leftist plot.
How is it political to ask men to be respectful and decent, and to hold other men accountable?
Second, there’s nothing to get angry about. Maybe I’ve been fortunate, but for all of my life I’ve usually been in environments where men held women in the highest regard. So I can say in response to the commercial, “not all men are like this,” or “most men in my experience are not like this,” or “I am not like this.” But to respond that way is to miss the point of the commercial.
As a heterosexual white Midwestern American male, I assert my privilege and refuse to take offense or feel persecuted on account of these adjectives. My status as an individual trumps any identity or label other people may put on me.
Adjectives are not assigned roles. I’ll do what I enjoy and what I’m good at, and won’t try to conform to society’s expectations except when it’s in my self-interest to do so. When people say, “A real man knows how to do x” and I’ve never been taught x, or “A real man doesn’t dress like that,” and I dress like that, I shrug.
I’ll live by my own standards of who I want to be, thank you very much. I want to be kind and respectful to everyone, but I don’t feel a special obligation to be that way just because I’m a man.
Third, the Gillette commercial is a good step toward discouraging aggressive behavior. The origin of toxic masculinity is physical strength. The strength comes in handy when heavy lifting is required and when it’s necessary to fight in defense of others. But it gives some men a sense of entitlement, and they’ll use intimidation — the threat of violence — to get their way with their partners, children, and weaker men.
Let’s remember, however, that The State operates on the same toxic principle. A bad man says, “Do what I say or I’ll use brute physical force to beat you, and if you flee I maybe even kill you.” The politician says, “Do what the law says or we’ll use brute physical force to restrain you and then cage you, and if you resist or try to flee we will beat you or even kill you.”
Most cops and soldiers are men. They’re regarded as heroes, as the best men, by most of society. But they represent an abusive relationship: the individual at the mercy of a violent State.
We should condemn male aggression and intimidation in their personal lives and in the workplace. But that problem will never be solved if we continue to praise men for using violence in the service of politicians.