Gillette has recently released a commercial targeting toxic masculinity, which has caused an uproar on the Internet and convinced men to ditch their Gillette blades in favor of an alternative. In the ad, a man is seen “mansplaining” in an office conference, boys are seen bullying a kid, and men are shown squeezing several womens’ body parts:
What is interesting about the ad is that it is exactly the opposite of masculinity that is being decried.
In fact the people who act in those ways are often the least manly men out there, they are covering up a lack of maturation, a lack of a role model of true masculinity to emulate, they are often covering up insecurities and hiding behind adolescent defense mechanisms that they’ve never been shown how to overcome.
And the men who won’t stand up to them?
They have the same problem.
Their fear likely also stems from a lack of ability to embrace the masculine in themselves.
It takes a lot to understand what it takes to be a balanced and complete man:
– The noble king in his fullness (able to balance kindness and mercy with ability to wield strength when needed – think Aragorn from Lord of the Rings, or Hector from the Odyssey) rather than the bully (tyrant) or coward (the one too scared to stand against what’s wrong so he just laughs along nervously while the tyrant afflicts.
– The wise man. The one who understands the world and how to navigate it and uses that wisdom in the service of others rather than to manipulate or trick others (saying it’s their fault for not knowing better) or to completely detach from the world refusing to accept the realities of it (rather than picking up the burden of fighting against overwhelming odds he chooses rather to check out and ignore)
– The lover. The one who can truly accept and give love. Not only romantic love but all forms. The man who treats others with kindness and respect, but holds strong boundaries against the abuse of that kindness; not out of anger or fear, but from a place of wisdom, and an open mind that forgives if the trespasser chooses to change their ways (no resentment).
He is not the man who chases many conquests for or counts that as some badge of honor to his name (how our current culture seems to believe that is somehow worthy of any recognition shows a lack of ability to differentiate between true competency and the faux pretender who has learned a few tricks and unlike the wise man above uses them solely to manipulate). And he is not the one that stays out of the game for fear that he cannot compete, who wishes he could be the man another could adore but is unable to take the steps and endure the pain of becoming that complete man (again, likely through lack of a role model to emulate, having never learned, never been taught).
– Lastly the warrior, who fights not because he hopes for pain or because he desires to inflict pain on others but because he knows that the battle at hand is the only way to preserve what he loves. He’s tried every measure to ensure this battle would not need to be fought, but when the realization came that the battle was unavoidable, he took on his duty as did Hector of Troy to take whatever suffering was necessary upon himself for the sake of those he loves.
It’s not an easy thing being a man, and many males never really are. But we assume these things should come naturally (and with the right nurture perhaps they can), but they must be shown. It’s the responsibility of men to teach the next generations what it means to grow up, to change from a boy to a man. It’s not easy, not some automatic thing one is born with, it’s something that must be learned and must be sought after through the pain that change often brings.
The complete man is who we often admire and desire to be, but rarely (if ever) who we start off as.
Maybe it’s time that we changed our focus regarding masculinity to creating the role models we want to see and exploring what it means to be a complete man.