I cannot think of a single person who believes that masculinity per se is a bad thing. That men should be able to be confident human beings and secure in their self-esteem, men who can walk through the world without fear, with a smile on their face, and treat everyone as their equal. This is genuine masculinity. NOBODY wants to take that away from any man.
But often that masculinity gets perverted and becomes toxic. Instead of being fair and equal it comes from fear and insecurity and causes men to feel the need to treat others as ‘lesser’, bullying women and other men. THIS is what the recent Gillette advertisement was addressing.
It seems that, in European Australia at least, there have always been men who not only treated women as second-class citizens, but as kitchen/sex/mothering slaves. They believe that it is their God-given right to treat women as punching bags and pieces of flesh for sex. This is obvious toxic masculinity.
However, toxic masculinity exists in other (less obvious) forms. And I think not everyone (including many women) understand that. It is apparent in more subtle ways. For example in the way that a man can disregard not only what a woman says, but what she thinks. For example, in his belief that every woman is available to him for the taking (and then leaving). This, for those who are unclear, is predatory behaviour. And, for example, his belief that his rights and his needs (including his physical space) always come first.
These men also feel the need to support each other – often in the face of the ‘enemy’: womens’ rights supporters – the dreaded Feminists. Apparently these men think that, if they give one centimetre of ground, women will control them and their lives will be hell. So they group together in Men’s Rights groups as though men were actually under attack!
And then there are men (many of whom who are actually my friends) who would never dream of hitting a woman, who consider their partners as Goddesses, and who ‘help around the house’. But, for some reason, they feel the need to support other men in their misguided predatory behaviour and perpetration of anti-women attitudes. In a way these men are the REAL problem because they are the enablers. Their support confirms in the others the belief that it is okay to behave as they do. If, instead, these men spoke out, other men might begin to change their attitudes and their behaviour.
These are the men that I would like to speak to. When you see that Gillette ad please don’t see it as though someone is trying to take something from you. See it as someone trying to improve the world generally – especially for your sons and your daughters.
When others talk about equal rights for women (and, by the way, for ALL people) try actually listening instead of getting defensive. Because, men, it’s not about you. It’s about them. It’s not about making your life worse, it’s about making someone else’s life better.
For more on how to be the best man that you can be, please take a look at my new book “The god that you are” at http://www.lifedancerpublishing.com