Gillette Conveniently Overlooked the Real Toxic Masculinity

Most everyone has seen, or at least heard about, Gillette’s new ad targeting the ill-defined term “toxic masculinity.”  As with all of these new terms and causes, the best place to try to make sense of these new tenets of social justice is the Urban Dictionary.

Here is their definition.

A social science term that describes narrow repressive type of ideas about the male gender role, that defines masculinity as exaggerated masculine traits like being violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth. Also suggests that men who act too emotional or maybe aren’t violent enough or don’t do all of the things that “real men” do, can get their “man card” taken away.

I checked my wallet and found a credit card, a driver’s license, and a $20 bill, but no “man card.”  Perhaps I am a member of what Rush Limbaugh describes as the New Castrati.

Gillette’s ad, which they call a “short film,” asks the most pressing question of the day, “Is this the best a man can get?”  This has replaced previous deep questions such as, “Are the walls closing in on Donald Trump?” or “Will Robert Mueller indict Trump and his entire family?”

The video features the horrific male ritual of the barbeque. Men standing in front of a charcoal grill, cooking meat. How politically incorrect.

YouTube screen grab

Yahoo News proclaims, “Eating meat apparently makes you more likely to be a snob (and racist, too).” The barbeque is also destroying the planet, as the Mic blog explains, “Grilling with charcoal comes with a hefty environmental cost: heavy greenhouse gas emissions.”

The time-honored American tradition of a backyard cookout is elitist, racist, and environmentally destructive. Who knew? Such toxic masculinity.

Someone better tell the Detroit Free Press as they published, “More women are taking over the grill at home.” Or the Girls Can Grill website. Not to be confused with a competitor website, Girls at the Grill. Perhaps Revlon can make a video about “toxic femininity” featuring racist, elitist, polluting women barbequing chicken on the backyard grill.

Gillette concluded its ad with this, “The boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.” What might they be watching besides their fathers and uncles grilling steaks? What about the “toxic masculinity” not featured in the Gillette ad? This is what the boys of today see on television regularly if mom and dad happen to be watching the news.

Start with a former president, Bill Clinton, credibly accused of rape, impeached over perjury about sexual harassment, and carrying on an affair with a young White House intern. Or his predecessor John Kennedy, with a string of affairs while president. Perfect examples of the “sexual aggression” in the Urban Dictionary definition.

Across town in Congress we have former Senator Al Franken, caught on film moving to grope a sleeping comely female. John Conyers resigned after reports surfaced of him attending staff meetings in his underwear. Former Congressman Anthony Weiner was chatting and sending selfies of his private parts to an underage girl, using the same laptop which contained thousands of classified emails belonging to his wife’s boss, the Secretary of State.

Keith Ellison, former Congressman, now Minnesota’s Attorney General, was credibly accused of beating up his ex-girlfriend. Going further, the Congressional misconduct database lists, “393 instances of misconduct and alleged misconduct by Members of the United States Congress from 1789 to the present.” I suspect most of the perpetrators are men, but I didn’t see any politicians featured in the Gillette ad.

Hollywood, the West Coast branch of the Democrat Party, has its own share of toxic masculinity. Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey, to name a few. Raping, abusing, and harassing women or men in a manner that most would agree is toxic. Yet their faces and activities were not showcased in the Gillette ad.

Another branch of the Democrat Party, the media, has its own share of toxic masculinity. Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, and Bill O’Reilly are some names who come to mind. Gillette showed a brief clip of news shows mentioning sexual harassment, but ignored the prominent players involved, instead focusing on a few guys laughing in a movie theater. Why not show NBC news giant Matt Lauer with his under-the-desk door lock as an example of men not being “the best a man can get”?

The ad could have also mentioned the third rail of political correctness, the toxic masculinity of Islam. Starting with an increasing number of rapes in Sweden where “the proportion of foreign-born offenders was more than 80%” according to the BBC. Amnesty International reports, “1 in 20 women in the EU have been raped after the age of 15. That is around 9 million women.” They conveniently don’t mention any association between mass migration and rape, but the increase in rapes seems to parallel an increase in migration from countries where toxic masculinity is culturally acceptable.

Gillette did not feature any video clips of women being stoned to death for adultery, as occurs in Afghanistan and neighboring countries. How’s that for toxic masculinity?

The Women of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamic group in Australia, tell us, "He [the husband] is permitted — not obliged, not encouraged — but permitted, to hit her [his wife].” Don’t forget female genital mutilation, common in many parts of the world, and recently given a pass by a US federal judge in Michigan. One of the accused in the Michigan case was a man. Does Gillette believe that any of these activities fall under their umbrella of “toxic masculinity”?

If Gillette really cared about toxic masculinity, it’s ad could have mentioned some of truly toxic examples of badly behaving men, beyond bullying and catcalls. When grilling burgers becomes toxic and rape is ignored, it upends the entire message.

Instead Gillette should celebrate the masculinity that won two world wars, rather than the new generation of “woke” metrosexual men who don’t know how to change a car tire. Despite the hopes and dreams of social justice warriors, there are two distinct genders, and have been since humans walked upright on the Earth.

Masculinity, and femininity, have served the human species well. Not perfectly, but humans are imperfect beings. Condemning and changing a successful formula is far more of a threat to human survival than the smoke of a charcoal grill.

Gillette lost an opportunity, and instead was mesmerized by the siren songs of social justice and political correctness.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook,  LinkedIn and Twitter