Thirty years ago, Gillette made famous the tagline, “The Best A Man Can Get.” The company launched the slogan at Super Bowl XXIII in January 1989, kicking off an $80 million campaign in nineteen North American and European nations. The slogan was translated into fourteen languages.
Procter & Gamble acquired Gillette in 2005 and continued to use its iconic tagline. This week, the company released a new ad calling on men to reject bullying and sexism. “The Best a Man Can Be” is the theme.
Reaction has been overwhelmingly negative. The ad currently has more than twice as many dislikes as likes. Critics say it insults men and is filled with stereotypes. And, as Forbes notes, consumers are skeptical of profit-motivated companies telling them how to behave.
IS “TRADITIONAL MASCULINE IDEOLOGY” THE PROBLEM?
The Gillette ad is just the latest skirmish in a growing battle over masculinity in America. The facts are alarming:
- Men commit 90 percent of homicides in the US and represent 77 percent of homicide victims.
- More than 73 percent of those arrested in the US are male. Men outnumber women in prison by more than ten to one.
- They are 3.5 times more likely than women to die by suicide. Male suicides have risen from about 20,000 a year in 1981 to 35,000 in 2016.
- Life expectancy for men is 4.9 years shorter than for women.
- Men are more likely than women to use illicit drugs.
In response, the American Psychological Association recently released “Guidelines for the Psychological Practice with Boys and Men.” The APA’s publication is founded on the postmodern belief that “masculinities are constructed based on social, cultural, and contextual norms.”
According to the APA, “It is critical to acknowledge that gender is a non-binary construct.” In other words, we are not simply men or women–gender is “fluid” and determined by a host of factors, only one of which is a person’s biological sex at birth. As a result, the APA wants to help men “create their own concepts of what it means to be male.”
The APA identifies the problem as “traditional masculinity ideology,” which it characterizes as “anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence.”
The Colson Center’s John Stonestreet responds: “That’s not how I define traditional masculinity. Anti-femininity? Violence? That sounds like being a jerk.” He’s right.
“IT IS NOT GOOD THAT THE MAN SHOULD BE ALONE”
David French notes in National Review that “grown men are the solution, not the problem.”He calls on men to shape their inherent aggression, sense of adventure, and default physical strength for virtuous ends.
In his view, we need more fathers to raise sons with discipline, respect, and encouragement. I encourage you to read his thoughtful analysis in its entirety.
While I agree with French, I’d like to point to a biblical balance vital to the well-being of all people.
On one hand, “the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Work and keep translate Hebrew words meaning to improve and guard. Men were created to produce and protect, to work and provide.
On the other hand, men were not intended to be self-sufficient. Immediately after creating the first man, God created the first woman, explaining: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (v. 18). To fulfill their life purpose, men need women, other men, and especially their Father.
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Source: Christian Headlines