Detoxifying Humanity

Has anyone not seen the Gillette commercial? I’ll wait while you watch it.

It’s pretty amusing to see who is getting triggered by this ad. Many are acting like this is an attack on masculinity.

But I didn’t hear that word in the ad except for a few background overlapping voices. Is this ad really an attack on masculinity or is it an attack on terrible people in general?

To be fair, the ad is aimed specifically at men. You don’t see ads like this aimed at stereotypes of women being catty or nagging. Instead, you see ads which tell women they are ugly and not good enough, which is just as bad if not worse. Not to mention the classic “sex sells” concept in advertising, use women as bait and people will line up to buy your products. Even the ads that claim to stop shaming women for their choices carry the subliminal message that they really should choose Product X instead of doing Y.

While some may say it’s a bad PR move to imply most of your customer base is aggressive and rapey, there is absolutely nothing wrong with what they are trying to tell men. In fact I see no reason to be triggered at all by this ad. As one of my friends joked, he was only bothered by the fact it “barely scratched the surface of” human depravity. Ads like this should force introspection. You should ask yourself “am I like that?” If you are, change, if you aren’t, be glad and help others to change.

So why aren’t men just being introspective over this ad? Why are so many of them fussing and claiming their masculinity is being attacked? Definitions are important. Words don’t mean much anymore. “Masculinity” means different things to different people. It’s a cultural concept with a moving definition. Most of the left wants to define it by vices. The right by virtues.

None of the vices I have seen associated with the term make me think of the male gender exclusively. A jerk is a jerk is a jerk. A female jerk is just as horrible as a male one. Being a domineering, tyrannical adult-child is also horrible (but you never see the term “adult-child” just “man-child” do you? Hmmm…). Even though there are some hormonal influences that predispose the two sexes to different levels of aggression there is no logical reason to assume it’s a purely male tendency. Women can be and are frequently just as aggressive as men. Just this week I have witnessed an equal amount of bullying from girls on boys as boys on boys and boys on girls, it’s a universal problem. Being aggressive is a bad quality in anyone.

Unwanted sexual advances are just as awful from a woman as from a man (trust me, I’ve experienced both). Despite common myths, men, especially young men, do experience sexual assault and rape. The numbers are not as great, but the crime is just as egregious.

Likewise, all of the virtues I see attributed to “masculinity” are virtues we should laud in all people. Where but in the most tyrannical and oppressive places in the world is bravery, courage, strength, nobility, intelligence, and a desire to defend righteousness considered bad traits for a woman to have? Who decided character traits are dependent or associated with genitalia and chromosomes?

Being a good man means being a good human being. It means channeling one’s passions into productive and creative pursuits. It means building others up with love. It means being humble enough to admit you have feelings and emotions and you are capable of empathy, sympathy, and compassion for others. Being a good man means using your strengths for good, not evil. Do not harm others. Do not worship violence and destruction.

To praise the fact that men are “destroyers” and conquerors of nations is merely praise for worldly vain-glory. Destruction and enslavement of others is hardly something to be proud of. We should be working for a more peaceful world, not a more violence prone one.

Defending sexual aggression from either gender is pretty disgusting too. To act like words and actions are merely joking around and those hurt by them should lighten up is an attitude for thugs and tyrants. God created sexuality to be a wonderful thing, do not cheapen it by making it a joke or a weapon (or as advertising). Our sexuality is one of the most vulnerable characteristics of us humans, one that is easily damaged.

Instead of trying to detox “masculinity” specifically, why not work to detox all of humanity of it’s vices and sins? Instead of getting triggered by an advertisement that is trying to tell you to behave better, why don’t you look at yourself and ask if it’s true?

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Toxic Stupidity

inferno

I was going to write about the Gillette commercial. I was going to write about what a real man is and what good people are. But you know what? There is enough of that out there.

There are enough voices shouting at us, telling us what we should be, how we should act, and even what we should look like. The world shoulds all over us every minute of every day giving us impossible standards to live up to. Even if they aren’t impossible to attain, it gets old to be reminded day in and day out how horrible we are.

“Suck it up, buttercup” is a phrase frequently intended to toughen up the weak. But the concept that the world is rough and the best way to survive is to develop an equally tough skin is lacking. Numbing yourself to the world’s awful is not a way to make the world better.

We don’t make the world a better place with “righteous aggression” either. Carrying signs, shouting slogans, yelling at people online, and living our life in outrage at the crap does not make the crap better. Attacks merely result in equal and opposite attacks, and the peacemakers are caught in the middle eating all of it.

I might still write about the Gillette ad next week. Because the discussion is a needed one. But for now I just need to go cool off and let go of my righteous aggression.

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The Toxicity of Masculinity

A well articled subject.

Buzzwords are notorious for having hard to pin down definitions.

Definitions of buzzwords are frequently dependent on the social or political persuasion of the individual being asked. This is why I tend to avoid them, they are imprecise and often meaningless to a real search for truth.

One such buzzword (buzzphrase?) getting a ton of use lately is “Toxic Masculinity” (“TM” for brevity).

I have seen “TM” used by hard core feminists and not so hard core feminists alike. “TM” gets blamed for everything from manspreading to mass shootings.

Basically anything that men do in quantifiable measures more than women can be reduced to “toxic masculinity” depending on who you talk to.

I am a fan of one definition I found. This is the definition that describes toxic masculinity as a cultural push to make men into “manly men”.

In “TM” culture, men are supposed to be hyper-sexual, hyper-aggressive, unemotional, aloof, and unable to nuture or show compassion. Any man who is not “manly” on these terms is a “cuck” or any number of other derogatory terms. I have no problem opposing that kind of “toxic masculinity”.

It is destructive to men and women to define men in such terms.

It’s not just the culture at large where we see this push. The concept of “wild” men is quite prevalent in the church as well. Men are supposed to be “wild at heart” and their wives should not seek to “tame” (ie emasculate) them by insisting on their emotional availability. Men are supposed to be strong and quiet and never let their wives see them as weak or insecure (ie human). Godly men don’t need to be corrected by their wives, that would undermine his role as strong leader. He is to be left to his own devices, after all, God did make him strong for a reason.

This kind of “masculinity” is just as repugnant as the world’s view of men as womanizers and aggressors. But, as one article points out, it’s a culture, not a real masculinity. The problem is not masculinity itself, but the way we have defined it.

Frequently I see “toxic masculinity” used whenever any injustice (real or perceived) against women occurs. By this definition “toxic masculinity” is at play even when something as simple as a book without a strong female character is in question (or if that character is a “strong female“) .

If women aren’t proportionately represented in a particular job class, it’s probably the fault of “toxic masculinity”. If a man rapes a woman, he must have been raised in “toxic masculinity”. In the mind of many of the hyper-feminists out there, it seems like nothing ever happens apart from it.

Could it, in the definition I appreciate, be at play in any and all of these things? Maybe. But always? And to the point where every time a disproportionate hiring or a rape or a mass shooting occurs we need to automatically place it in the “guilty” category?

I don’t think so. Nailing down why a bad thing happens in this world is hardly ever simple, labeling it with a buzzword to raise “awareness” (another buzzword) is not going to stop it from happening again.

I also have seen “toxic masculinity” blamed when any gendering of a person takes place. If you call a girl “pretty” or a boy “handsome” or “strong” without correcting your speech to say boys can be pretty or girls strong you are guilty of a pernicious crime. In this view any promotion of gender differences is automatically supporting “toxic masculinity.”

Gender differences do exist. The problem is not that genders exist, the problem is that we gender things. We gender colors, blue is a boy color, pink is for girls. We gender toys, dolls are for girls, cars are for boys. We gender personalities, females are nurturing, males are rough and aggressive.

It is not the fault of toxic masculinity that boys can’t like pink and play gently with dolls. It’s the fault of a culture that likes efficiency in distinction. “Boys are boys and do these boy things. Girls are girls and do these girl things.” Our culture likes cut and dry distinctions, anything outside of the norms makes it uncomfortable.

I think this is also why buzz words and catch all phrases gain such traction. It is easier to blame a concept of “Toxic Masculinity” when men do horrible things than it is to dissect individual factors.

I have a hard time adopting phrases that get adopted by the uber political class. They water down and change meanings all the time to fit their needs. Words and phrases get overused and misused and no one can quite pin down exactly what is being communicated.

Words have meaning, and words without meaning have no place in rational discourse.

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