If you haven’t yet seen the Gillette “short film” advertisement about toxic masculinity, I can’t urge you strongly enough to see it – I’ll include a link below.
I have three concerns about the video that I think are worth exploring
- The message comes to us not from a grassroots organization, not from a religious, civic, or fraternal organization – but from an advertising agency that sells products to men.
- There’s an adage that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago and the next best time to plant one is today. In much the same vein, the time to call men to action to be better humans was at least sixty years ago. Let’s consider today a fine start and all I’m asking for now is a metric f@ck ton of momentum to build on it.
- None of the people who shared the Gillette ad with me today were men. They were powerful women that I respect tremendously.
Without hyperbole, I am confident that writing out exactly what I believe a good man is and how he behaves would take no less than 500 pages. There’s a lot to it.
In a perfect world, masculinity would not be distinct from femininity and we’d all just be focused on being good humans.
But that’s not the world we live in.
The older I get, the more I feel a responsibility to teach boys and young men how to be good men. The problem with this is that I teach psychology and I work as a therapist, both of which mean engaging with women more than three times as often as men.
To the women I serve I offer a simple message: Raise your expectations and standards. Until we demand more from men, we will help perpetuate the status quo. Stop watching sit-coms. It’s not funny when men are incompetent as partners or parents. It’s a f@cking tragedy.
To young men I say a great many things. Most notably, “Here’s how you do that…”
My qualifications to teach healthy masculinity are not a product of my education or training. My choice to be a role model is based on the simple belief that my example is worth following: I have been married to the same kick-ass woman for over thirty years. We raised a son who is an exceptionally gentle man/gentleman and a powerfully assertive daughter.
I half joke that I have a lot of kids. They’re my kids because they’re nobody’s kids. One of the many things that good men do is pick up the slack when other men fail. I love Abraham Lincoln’s sentiment that “no man stands as tall as when he stoops to help a child.”
And if you haven’t noticed – the kids aren’t alright.
Good men challenge the status quo – especially when it is oppressive to others. We see social privilege as having inherent inequality and we work against it by empowering others.
As my brothers in NA say, the only time we look down on others is to lift them up.
Good men do not condone abuse or bullying in any form. We do not tolerate violence against women or children. We do not promote hate in any form and do not tolerate cultural isms. We object to objectification. We use our influence to promote social justice and we uphold the dignity of all people.
We need to come together as men – to hold each other accountable, to become better fathers and partners, and to promote the well-being of our sisters.
The best time to start is today.