So much has happened since we've last talked. One of which was a Gillette commercial that took the internet by storm.
If you haven't seen it yet, you aren't missing much.
Picture scene after scene of kids getting bullied, men objectifying women, slobs sitting on the couch (objectifying women), and dumb-looking guys repeating the same script like mindless drones.
Basically, super flattering to men.
If you know me, even a little bit, you know I think this is trash. For many reasons.
The main one being, I'm not a fan of blaming an entire group for the actions of some. And this ad (and the whole toxic masculinity crusade in general) conflates individual douchebag behaviors with an entire gender.
Miss me with that.
I mean, picture a women's razor blade commercial flipping through scenes of women lying to their husbands about the kid being his so he raises it his whole life, gossiping endlessly at the nail salon, or falsely accusing a man of sexual assault just to ruin his life.
Then at the end it says, "C'mon ladies. Pull it together. We believe you can be better."
That would be BANANAS. First, because although we can acknowledge that some people do do these things, the vast majority of people don't.
Second, thanks for the moral pep talk, razor company. But we already know right from wrong.
Third, anyone who acts this way isn't going to change their ways because of a terribly written internet commercial.
Women, as a whole, don't need or deserve that. And neither do men.
Now, there was one scene in that commercial that didn't seem to belong. At least not to me.
It was a backyard BBQ, and dad was grilling while a few other men stood around him.
Off to the side, a play fight cracks off between two 7 year old kids. It didn't look too serious, although they were pretty into it.
Well, the message that Gillette was sending here was a "real man" breaks that fight up. A toxic male lets them scrap.
And that didn't sit right with me.
LET ME SHARE A STORY WITH YOU
ONCE, WHEN I WAS 6 YEARS OLD, MY UNCLE TOOK ME TO THE PLAYGROUND. WHILE I WAS PLAYING, ANOTHER KID AROUND THE SAME AGE CAME UP AND STARTED PUSHING AND PUNCHING ME (DON'T WORRY....KIDS THAT AGE DON'T KNOW HOW TO THROW A SOLID PUNCH).
ME, BEING A SHY KID AND EASILY BULLIED, WANTED TO TURTLE AND LET THE PROBLEM GO AWAY.
MY UNCLE, WHO'S BEEN AROUND THE BLOCK A FEW MORE TIMES THAN I HAD, YELLED OUT, "HIT HIM BACK!"
SO, I FOLLOWED INSTRUCTIONS AND RETURNED FIRE.
I TOOK A FEW MORE MITTENS TO THE FACE, DELIVERED A FEW OF MY OWN, AND THEN THE SITUATION FIZZLED OUT.
AND I LEARNED SOMETHING.
I LEARNED THAT PROBLEMS ARE BETTER MET HEAD ON. TURTLING SOLVES NOTHING. IT ALSO REINFORCES A VICTIM MENTALITY. AND A VICTIM MENTALITY IS NOT SOMETHING THAT WILL SERVE YOU WELL IN LIFE.
I ALSO LEARNED THAT IT'S BETTER TO BE STRONG THAN IT IS TO BE WEAK. PHYSICALLY, SURE. BUT ALSO IN ANY OTHER WAY YOU CAN MEASURE STRENGTH.
SURE, IT'S BETTER TO BE KIND AND STRONG. OR KIND AND SMART AND STRONG. OR BETTER YET, KIND AND WISE AND SMART AND STRONG.
BUT WITHOUT QUESTION, IT'S BETTER TO BE STRONG THAN WEAK.
LASTLY, I BUILT CONFIDENCE. I HANDLED THAT SITUATION, AND I DIDN'T NEED TO RELY ON AN AUTHORITY FIGURE TO SAVE ME.
VALUABLE LESSONS INDEED. THE TYPE THAT WILL SHAPE YOUR LIFE.
THIS WOULDN'T BE MY LAST ENCOUNTER WITH A BULLY.
A COUPLE YEARS LATER, I WAS BEING TERRORIZED BY A KID EVERY DAY ON THE BUS, AND I DID NOTHING ABOUT IT.
MY PARENTS SAT ME DOWN AND SAID, NEXT TIME IT HAPPENS, GO TELL A TEACHER.
THEN, MY DAD ASKED ME TO HELP HIM WITH SOMETHING OUTSIDE.
AS WE GOT TO THE BACKYARD, HE SAID,
"OK...NOW PUT YOUR HANDS UP. LIKE THIS."
THAT WAS THE DAY MY DAD TAUGHT ME HOW TO THROW A TASTY 2-PIECE COMBO. EXTRA CRISPY.
THE NEXT DAY, MY BULLY TOOK MY HAT OFF MY HEAD AND REFUSED TO GIVE IT BACK. BUT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MONTHS, I STOOD UP FOR MYSELF BY USING MY BRAND NEW SKILL SET.
ACTUALLY, WE BECAME FRIENDS AFTER THAT, AND HAD SOME GOOD LAUGHS OVER IT.
ONCE AGAIN, MY VICTIM MENTALITY WAS STARVED. MY CONFIDENCE GREW. AND I UNDERSTOOD A LITTLE BETTER THE IMPORTANCE OF PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AND MEETING CHALLENGES HEAD ON.
FAST FORWARD TO A COUPLE YEARS AGO
A MESSAGE SCORCHED ACROSS THE INTERNET. AND I LIKED IT. IT MADE SENSE.
MEN NEED TO TALK ABOUT THEIR FEELINGS MORE.
THEY NEED TO BECOME VULNERABLE.
THEY NEED TO OPEN UP.
I THOUGHT ABOUT IT, AND IT SEEMED RIGHT. MEN DON'T TEND TO DO THAT VERY MUCH, DO THEY? IT CAN'T BE GOOD TO BOTTLE STUFF UP LIKE THAT.
SO NOT ONLY DID I BUY IN. I DOVE IN HEAD FIRST.
I MADE VULNERABILITY MY WHOLE THING. TALKING ABOUT FEELINGS. FOCUSING ON FEELINGS. OPENING UP AND LETTING IT ALL OUT.
SO VULNERABLE, AND SO FASHIONABLE AT THE SAME TIME.
CAN YOU GUESS WHAT HAPPENED?
SOME OF YOU CAN.
SHIT GOT WORSE. WAY WORSE.
I BECAME MORE DEPRESSED, MORE SAD, MORE DARK AND HOPELESS THAN I'D BEEN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.
I DIDN'T SERIOUSLY CONTEMPLATE SUICIDE, BUT I LET THE IDEA DANCE IN MY MIND A LITTLE.
(SOME MIGHT SAY SHARING THIS REQUIRES SOME LEVEL OF VULNERABILITY. AND THAT'S TRUE. THOUGH I'M NOT AGAINST VULNERABILITY IN GENERAL. BUT VULNERABILITY IN THE FORM OF SHARING AND FOCUSING ON SHITTY FEELINGS SHOULD NOT BE FORCED ON PEOPLE.)
I SHARE THESE STORIES WITH YOU TO LET YOU KNOW THAT I'M NOT SOME OUTSIDER LOOKING IN WITH AN OPINION. I'VE PLAYED BOTH GAMES, AND I KNOW WHICH ONE WORKED BEST FOR ME.
AND FROM WHAT I'VE OBSERVED, THIS WHOLE 'FEELINGS' GAME ISN'T PLAYING OUT SO WELL FOR A LOT OF OTHERS EITHER.
SO, IF TALKING MORE ABOUT OUR FEELINGS ISN'T THE SOLUTION, WHAT IS?
LET ME RUN IT BACK TO A FEW PARAGRAPHS AGO...
...IT'S BETTER TO BE STRONG THAN IT IS TO BE WEAK.
WHICH MEANS, IT'S BETTER TO PICK UP A HEAVY LOAD THAN IT IS TO CURL UP BY THE WOOD STOVE LIKE A BEATEN DOG.
DOES THAT MEAN MEN DON'T NEED AN EMOTIONAL OUTLET? ABSOLUTELY NOT. EVERYONE NEEDS AN OUTLET.
JUST DON'T EXPECT EVERYONE'S OUTLET TO LOOK THE SAME.
DON'T FORCE MEN TO OPEN UP AND BEAR THEIR SOUL. DON'T TAKE THE STRONG, STOIC TYPE AND TRY AND TURN HIM INTO A CHARACTER FROM A NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES.
AND WHETHER YOU'RE A MAN, WOMAN, OR CHILD...
...YOU'RE BETTER OFF MEETING CHALLENGES HEAD ON THAN YOU ARE TURTLING.
...YOU'RE BETTER OFF BEING STRONG THAN YOU ARE BEING WEAK.
...YOU'RE BETTER OFF PICKING UP A HEAVY LOAD THAN YOU ARE WALLOWING IN SELF-PITY.
THIS NARRATIVE IS UNPOPULAR. I REALIZE THAT. BUT THIS IS EXACTLY WHY I'M SHARING IT.
FEEL FREE TO DISAGREE. I RESPECT THAT.
BUT AT LEAST CONSIDER IT.
CONSIDER THE POSSIBILITY THAT WHATEVER NARRATIVE THAT'S BEING PUSHED RIGHT NOW....THE ONE ABOUT THE TOXICALLY MASCULINE MALE, AND HIS EMOTIONALLY VULNERABLE COUNTERPART, MIGHT BE BULLSHIT.