From the moment a young boy learns to walk, they are taught to shake off the pain from the fall that follows, yet, when they witness a razor commercial that challenges the framework of their entire identity, all they know how to do is cry.
When Gillette decided to fight the ever-persistent issue of toxic masculinity with the message that “we as men need to be better,” they were met by an onslaught of criticism from the very institution they challenged. However, by bringing the issue to light, Gillette has prevented it from being ignored further by individuals who never saw a problem in the first place.
Toxic masculinity is the makeup of a culture defined by sex, dominance, violence and fragility. These traits are often idealized by the idea of masculinity and the journey into manhood. Such ideals are taught from a young age through all-too-familiar examples such as what toys we play with, what extracurricular activities we participate in and whom we hang out with.
Furthermore, men are often taught to conceal their emotions, which leads to violent, emotional outbursts. Upset at what that other boy has been calling you? Well, you better stop crying and “Take it like a man.”
But hey, “boys will be boys.”
A 2016 study done by the Violence Policy Center found that 63 percent of female murder victims are killed by a husband or intimate partner. One in five women will be victims of rape in their lifetime. This is a direct result of the culture outlined above.
It is clear that toxic masculinity affects far more than just men: women are also often victims.
But that’s just us showing we have a crush on you. After all, “Boys will be boys.”
Men are also the victims of this culture. Four times as many men than women are victims of suicide.
LGBTQ are constant victims of toxic masculinity, as seen in the 2017 Pulse Night Club shooting where 49 lives were taken in one of Orlando’s openly gay communities. Many young boys grow into men believing that their emotions are something that should be concealed – something that takes away their masculinity.
“Forget about it, you’ll be fine.”
I have been personally affected my entire life by the shackles of masculinity. When I was in first grade, my neighbors would torment me and convince me that I had to prove my masculinity in the form of humiliating rituals that were violent in nature.
As a football player, sexually derogatory language was used as encouragement with the goal of proving I was a man. I didn’t realize that for the majority of my life I had been suffering from anorexia because it was always associated with femininity.
But “it’s nothing.” I’m not supposed to cry over it.
Gillette’s unexpected challenge of the toxic masculine tropes and culture was a necessity in exposing injustice.
What men don’t understand is that the commercial wasn’t an assault on them as individuals; rather, it was an assault on the culture that does so much harm to not only others but themselves as well.
If we are to ever change or rid ourselves of this culture, it must start with us men. No longer can being boys excuse us from our actions. No longer can we reject activities or interests for not being masculine enough. Wear makeup if it makes you feel confident. Don’t be scared to cry when you are going through a rough time.
Don’t go the journey of life alone – it’s okay to lean on others for support. We must better define for ourselves what makes us men – our masculinity does not have to be toxic.