Fellow Conservatives, Gillette Is Not Wrong About Men Behaving Like Jerks

Is the new Gillette razor ad a radical feminist attack on masculinity -- the commercial embodiment of a woke sensibility? I was prepared to think so. But having watched it twice, I find a lot to like. The ad has been panned by some conservative commentators. With all due respect, I think they are falling into a trap. They seem to have accepted the feminist framing. Feminists see culture as a Manichean struggle. It's women versus men. Women are benign and men are malign. For society to progress, men must change. We must extirpate "toxic masculinity." Understandably, this rubs conservatives the wrong way. I've risen to the defense of masculinity many times myself. But is the Gillette ad really "the product of mainstream radicalized feminism -- and emblematic of cultural Marxism," as Turning Point USA's Candace Owen put it? Is it part of "a war on masculinity in America," as Todd Starnes argued on Fox News? Conservatives stripping off their coats to get into this brawl are like the man who, seeing a bar fight unfold, asks, "Is this a private quarrel or can anyone join in?" Let's figure out what the fight is about before taking sides. There were a couple of undercurrents in the Gillette ad that suggested feminist influence -- the term "toxic masculinity" should itself be toxic -- but overall, the ad is pretty tame, even valuable. I have no idea if it's the best way to sell razors, but as social commentary, it's not offensive. "The Best Men Can Be" begins by showing men looking the other way as boys fight, shrugging "boys will be boys." It shows men laughing at a comedy portraying a lout pantomiming a lunge at a woman's behind. It shows kids teasing a boy for being a "freak" or a "sissy." These are followed by more uplifting images of men breaking up fights, interfering with men who are harassing women and being loving fathers to daughters. We hear former NFL star Terry Crews saying, "Men need to hold other men accountable." These images didn't strike me as a reproof of masculinity per se, but rather as a critique of bullying, boorishness and sexual misconduct.   Continue reading...

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