“In early January 2019 the marketing department of a fairly well known men’s grooming company released a short film addressing their roll perpetuating the culture of toxic masculinity, and their desire to promote a healthier idea of masculinity moving forward. It caused quite an uproar with politicians, Feminists and Mens Rights Activists.
I loved it. I loved it so much. It was eloquent, current, to the point, and beautifully put together. Why the hell it has became such a controversial topic? I have zero idea. Somehow it was twisted around as an attack on men, or some “social justice propaganda” of one flavor or another and dragged into politics. That’s not what I saw in the film at all. What I saw was a piece of advertising with shocking depth, and a poignant message.
Okay, so they were selling their brand and piggy backing on some very important social issues to do so, which in all honesty was a little sketchy. I mean, it was first and foremost a marketing endeavor, and it was highly effective. Everyone was talking about the brand. I personally don’t use the brand, nor does my husband, but we were both discussing the brand and advertisement itself for several weeks.
Marketing angle aside, the message the film conveyed was important. It was simply supporting basic morals and decent human values. It conveyed compassion, empathy, integrity, and accountability all in a positive light. All of those qualities are things that anyone of any gender should strive to emulate, right? How does promoting values suddenly become an attack on men or masculinity? I was so confused the more I watched heated debates unfold across social media in the weeks immediately following the advertisement’s release. In my confusion I began to notice something in the midst of all the controversy. What I noticed is that the most vocal, albeit a very small faction of men upset by this ad were voicing their often vulgar opinions online while their wives and/or female partners were working, breadwinning in fact, to support them.
Really, the reasons those men are left at home to muppet flail on the internet are vast, and none of them are necessarily bad. Choosing to be a stay at home father is admirable if it’s something you and your partner agree is best for your family. Choosing to be a stay at home father that sits online and rants about the evils of feminism while your wife pays the bills? Not so much. Disabilities preventing a man from working? Those are out of personal control. No one can help it if something has rendered them unable to join the workforce. I make the general assumption that people unable to work due to various disabilities would if they were given the opportunity. But if there is a woman taking care of you as someone who is disabled and not able to contribute to the family financially (not to say you can’t contribute to a family in any number of other valuable ways) why are you yelling and raving online all day about the “evil feminist agenda”?
I have to wonder if those men even know where they would be if it weren’t for feminism. Historically speaking, they and their families would be stuck in a workhouse, or prison. Thanks to feminism, women are generally able to earn a decent wage (still less than a man with comparable skills but decent none the less) and families are able to thrive without the financial contribution of a white male.
Curious, isn’t it? This small number of men whining about needing “more real men” or needing more “traditional masculinity” as they sit in front of their devices taking full advantage of feminism the institution which they supposedly abhor.
I think society at large has forgotten what so called “traditional masculinity” actually is. You know, back in the 40’s and 50’s when the men went to work and the women stayed at home raising the children. The men all had cooperate 9-5 jobs or hard laboring factory jobs to accomplish the goal of taking care of their families. They worked long hours and only spent Sundays (if they were lucky) with their wife and children. They weren’t artists, or hobby enthusiast, and a very few of the working class were self employed. They were taught basically from birth to accept their fate of being salves and to enjoy the opportunities that were afforded to them. Opportunities being a life of hard labor for the working class, and a life inside an office for the middle class. If it hadn’t been for women demanding equal rights in the workforce and voting booths, that would still be your fate as a working class man in America today.
Boys were taught to be tough, and suppress their softer emotional sides as a coping mechanism to endure an unfulfilling life in the workforce. They were taught that women were accessories to complete their picture perfect American families, but nothing more. Marriages were for convenience, and social status. Relationships were rarely healthy and men were rarely happy. That’s what “traditional masculinity” looks like. In very basic terms: normalized emotional abuse of half the population. Hence why it earned the label of toxic masculinity. Suppressing your emotions and being forced into an unfulfilling life of labor is toxic and the poison often bleeds out in destructive, or violent behavior.
For those aware of what “traditional masculinity” actually entails and genuinely strive for the return of the “good old days” I only have one thing to say: if you truly believe that “being a man” means the ability to objectify, attack, assault and belittle women, haze or bully one another, drink, party, lie, and cheat carte blanche? I’ve got news for you: you may have a penis, but you certainly aren’t the “man” you so desperately desire to be.”
To read more of Rebecca’s thoughts on surviving and overcoming sexually based crimes you can find her latest release Turquoise Boot Straps: A Survivor’s Thoughts on Amazon or by following the sales link above. Kindle and Paperback versions available now.
Copyright R. MacCeile 2019