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Gillette and “Toxic Masculinity” -- Has something been lost in translation, or have we lost touch with reality?

By Charlotte B. Cerminaro
web posted February 11, 2019

Gillette adLike most people, I generally ignore advertisements and see them as a waste of time while waiting to get back to the movie. On the whole, they are stupid, inane, shallow attempts to get our attention and our money. They will employ almost any tactic: lying slogans,¬† emotional manipulation, suggestive visual aids. Some weeks ago I saw the Gillette ad but didn't delve very deeply into the ignorant and discriminatory thinking that’s behind such programming. I knew there was a lot of backward teaching, stereotyping and brainwashing, encouraged by our culture of victimization and blame. Then I happened upon an article by the conservative journalist and writer, Armin Brott, in which he answered someone’s questions about this particular ad.

In Brott’s answer we find conventional wisdom, e.g., “There is nothing inherently toxic about masculinity or femininity” and “Negatively stereotyping and blaming a whole group of people, based on the bad behavior of a few, is wrong.” In other words, not all men are violent and aggressive, just a small percentage. The author then turns the table to look at the other side. There are girls who torment and bully their peers, sometimes to the point of suicide. Does this mean all girls are bad? Although the topic is usually ignored or dismissed, the vast majority of physical and sexual assault on children is done by females. Does this mean femininity is “toxic”? Brott cites results from several large-scale studies, reported by Scientific American, the Centers for Disease Control, and Canada’s Children's Rights Council, and we get a harsh reality that is far different from the generalizations and stereotypes we are led to believe.

Radical feminists are largely responsible for promoting the idea that males are always the perpetrators, females the victims. It's easy to sell an idea if you selectively scour the news media, find a couple of stories supporting your claim, ignore all the others. That the media prefers to dodge most of these uncomfortable, controversial stories helps this narrative. But if we understand human nature and the tendency toward evil, we know this narrative isn't true. No one is “all bad” or “all good”, and we all have, within us, the potential for the full spectrum of behavior. So it comes as no surprise when the CDC reports deviant behavior ignored by the media, and victims that are dismissed because they don't fit the “typical” profile.

In one national study, college students polled (anonymously) were asked if they had ever been sexually harassed or coerced (non-violent). It seems that men were just as likely to be victims as women. More surprisingly, of the men who answered “yes” to the above, 75% said it was by a female, 25% by a male. Of the women who said “yes”, 41% said the perp was female. The Bureau of Justice also reports statistics and demographics on crime. Of adults who were sexually forced or violated (anything considered rape), 79% of male victims were attacked by female(s). In CDC statistics for violence, the overwhelming majority of assaulted women reported male attackers--violent attacks on men or women are mostly perpetrated by men, but this is a very small piece of a very complex puzzle.

Media attention has been drawn, lately, to a specific type of predator. Adult women who seduce and violate underage boys (statutory rape) are not uncommon, but again, the number of incidents is vastly under-reported. When it is reported, it’s not always taken seriously. Judges have dismissed cases with sufficient evidence to prosecute, attempting to rationalize criminal behavior. The perpetrators often defend themselves with remarks like, “I didn't know he was only 15, he said he was older.” And, “He was physically mature and seemed to be experienced.” The Canada Children's Rights Council released information recently on a case such as this, which was dismissed. I cannot help but imagine what radical feminists would say in this instance, if the victim were a teenage girl instead of a boy. The remarks about physical maturity would be broadcast over CNN the very next day.

I don't want any misunderstanding about this, because it doesn't diminish the trauma of domestic violence or the unspeakable cruelty that women endure every day, especially in third-world countries. But it in no way excuses immoral, unethical and abusive behavior against perceived “toxic masculinity”, or the purely selfish actions of someone who should know better and recognize their own self-serving motives and impulses. If we are all sinners, bent towards evil, it is worth taking a harsh, objective look within ourselves, and see if we need to shave away that “toxic” refuse that's rotting our very minds and souls. ESR

Charlotte B. Cerminaro is a Juilliard-trained classical musician who, in addition to being a studio and orchestral musician, enjoys writing. © 2019





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