Gillette, toxic masculinity, and the “war on men”

“Gillette seems to send the message that we can be better by being the men who heroically intervened in these various scenarios.’

toxic masculinityThe Gillette The Best a Man Can Be “short film” on Toxic Masculinity has become a phenomenon in a very short time. Two of the bloggers I follow, Arthur and Chuck, have already written about it. They favor the ad, and so do I. But that’d be a brief post.

I’m also interested in other reactions. Common Dreams says ‘Gillette Must Be Doing Something Right’: Toxic Men Freak Out… “So-called ‘men’s rights activists’ are mad that the shaving razor company has started a campaign calling on men to not be misogynists, jerks, and bullies.”

Some of the right-wing sites I follow naturally have followed the issue. GOPUSA quotes the CEO of branding firm Crutchfield + Partners that Gillette could quickly alienate its long-time supporters. “Does the customer want to be told they’re a naughty boy? Are you asking too much of your consumer to be having this conversation with them?” he asked. “It’s about execution. Sometimes brands stretch themselves too fine, and they snap.”

It then shared some of the negative comments: ““Get woke, go broke. Stick to selling razors.” “When did shaving have to get political?” “How to irreparably damage a brand in under 120 seconds: A Documentary.” And “See this is actually genius. What Gillette is doing here is trying to lower our testosterone to the point we won’t have to shave anymore.”

RedState complained that “Gillette seems to send the message that we can be better by being the men who heroically intervened in these various scenarios. The man who stops his friend from hitting on a girl, the guy who angrily prevents a man from telling a girl to smile, the man who rejects the idea that treating women as objects is okay.” Well, yes, it is.

I was most annoyed by the dismissive “Side note.” “I’ve never experienced a man telling a girl to smile more. I’ve seen women do that to other women, but not a man. I’m not saying it has never, or still doesn’t happen, but in my 35 years of life, I’ve yet to experience a single male member of our species advise a girl to smile more.” I’ve known lots of women who’ve experienced it, and I’ve seen it myself.

Should business be involved in “political” positions, such as toxic masculinity, risking the bottom line? Last I checked the ad had 321,000 thumbs up but 695,000 thumbs down.

Perhaps the company can be comforted by a statement by The American Psychological Association: “Socialization for conforming to traditional masculinity ideology has been shown to limit males’ psychological development, constrain their behavior, result in gender role strain and gender role conflict, and negatively influence mental health and physical health.”

I see the ad following in the tradition of The ‘Dove Real Beauty Pledge’. The Procter & Gamble ‘The Talk’ ad “showing how black parents have discussed racism with their children over several decades” won an Emmy.

Will the ad hurt Gillette’s bottom line? Perhaps. Conversely, Taking Risks Can Benefit Your Brand – Nike’s Kaepernick Campaign Is A Perfect Example.

Gillette’s website details plans to “donate $1 million per year for the next three years to non-profit organizations executing programs in the United States designed to inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal ‘best’ and become role models for the next generation.”

Time’s Up: “Silence helps the tormentors”

“Neutrality helps the oppressors, not the oppressed.”

Jodi Kantor, New York Times
Beyond being gratified that the #MeToo/Time’s Up movement has come to pass, I have been fascinated how it seems to have really come together only in the past six months.

I’ve seen Jodi Kantor, one of the New York Times reporters along with Megan Twohey, who broke the Harvey Weinstein story, several times on TV, usually on CBS This Morning but also on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. And it was the Weinstein scandal, not only his reported illicit behavior but also the cover up, that unleashed the torrent of responses.

As Kantor has assessed the revolution: “My colleagues Emily Steel and Michael Schmidt had done the story about Bill O’Reilly, his long trail of settlements with women. That was a light bulb moment. Editors at the Times…ask[ed] the question, ‘Are there other prominent male figures in American life who have covered up serious problems with treatment of women?'”

And she sees how the momentum built. “You could make an argument that the women who came forward about [Bill] Cosby affected the women who came forward about the men at Fox News, who affected the women who came forward about President Trump, who affected the women who came forward about Silicon Valley, who affected the women who came forward about Harvey Weinstein,” who was less well known than the women who reported his actions.

A week after Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech – ““I want all the girls watching to know a new day is on the horizon” – she spoke to seven powerful Hollywood women for CBS Sunday Morning and explored how much pain some of them still have with their #MeToo experience.

Winfrey asked Reese Witherspoon, who had “spoken of being assaulted on one of her first movies, at age 16,” how speaking out has “led to a greater sense of empowerment and control over it?”

“Well, I don’t know if I’ve gotten to that place yet,” Witherspoon replied. “As you can see, I’m very emotional about it. But I keep going back to somebody sent me this Elie Wiesel quote that said, ‘Silence helps the tormentors, it doesn’t help the tormented. And neutrality helps the oppressors, not the oppressed.'”

America Ferrera had posted about an incident when she “was nine years old being assaulted by a man who I was then sort of forced to see afterwards for a long time. And what struck me about my experience was his certainty that I would be silent. And he was right. He was right for 24 years.”

TV producer Shonda Rhimes says what most of the women were saying: “At a certain point there has to be room for reconciliation in a world… But a lot of people don’t think that right now — and a lot of women have the right to not feel that right now.”

Men need to understand that when women have been aggrieved for a VERY long time – Ferrera put it well: “Speaking of this moment, as a culture we’ve gone from not listening, hearing or believing women, and how were we going to skip over the whole part where women get to be heard, and go straight to the redemption of the perpetrators? Can’t we live in that space where it’s okay for perpetrators to be a little bit uncomfortable with what the consequences will be?”

I suppose this kind of sucks for men. But the status quo for women has sucked far, far longer.

Jena Friedman on Conan O’Brien’s show

#MeToo- Heather Rusaw-Fazio’s banned TU post

My fellow Times Union blogger Heather Rusaw-Fazio posted the item below at 6 a.m. on October 17. It was not easy for her to write, obviously.

She received a note from the TU that while they’re sorry what had happened to her, her reportage was too “graphic.” Her blogs have been blocked and she’s been suspended. Per the terms of the TU bloggers, they can’t change the content, but they can block it if it is considered – and these words were circled, “pornography” or “child pornography.”

Reposted with her permission.

#MeToo

*Caution – strong adult language/topic*

I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days but I haven’t been brave enough until tonight. Do I publish my story or do I simply write “me too” for a Facebook status? Is that enough to have a genuine impact? Do I tell you his/their name?

Do I share the names of the Massena NY Police Department officers who dismissed me because I was 15 and had two beers at a high-school party? Or do I share their names because they told the 21-year-old man who was enlisted in the Army that he’s a “good guy” and “doesn’t need the hassle” as they interviewed me IN FRONT OF HIM on the front steps of his house?

No hospital visit, no nurse, no female police officer – just me, three grown men, and a kid my age who hosted the party and protected his big brother even though he knew the truth. The only question I was asked by the police officers was “How much did you drink?”

It’s something that (obviously and rightfully) bothers me to this day because I think about it often. I think about the man “DM” often – his real initials. I even think about his little brother who protected him. I was friends with the little brother on Facebook for a while until he began spewing hate, homophobia, and racism as soon as Trump announced he was running for office. I sent him a private message to remind him his brother is at the very least a sexual predator if not a rapist. Who knows what he had done before and after me?

After this experience I quickly learned that sexual harassment is common, should just be accepted by women, we should be grateful someone is attracted to us, and if reported you will rarely be taken seriously by other men – and sometimes women. In the 80’s, it seemed that was par for the course and unfortunately these lessons stayed with me until my 30s.

The only “men” who believed me were two of my best friends who knew DM. They even went to his house to confront him but he called the police. The same two police officers told him to stay inside until his leave was over and then he could forget about the whole situation and put it behind him. My friends were threatened with arrest but were able to go home with a warning.

At 15, this wasn’t the first or close to the last time I had been sexually harassed but it was the first time I was sexually assaulted – but not the last. Continue reading “#MeToo- Heather Rusaw-Fazio’s banned TU post”