Gillette’s Toxic Masculinity Ad Accidentally Makes A Case For The Patriarchy

Gillette’s Toxic Masculinity Ad Accidentally Makes A Case For The Patriarchy

Gillette isn't against the patriarchy, they're against the bad patriarchy. What we need, more than ever, is men willing to fight for good patriarchy.
Hans Fiene
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For some time, feminists have been saying that women continue to be victims of male aggression because our society is not sufficiently committed to destroying the patriarchy, the prevailing societal system throughout the world that enables men to hold power over women.

The problem with this mindset, however, is that patriarchy isn’t really a system that’s imposed on humanity. Rather, it’s a naturally occurring phenomenon that flows out of human DNA. Because of sexual dimorphism in humans, men are physically stronger than women and can therefore wield power over them.

Outside of widescale sci-fi-level genetic tampering, nothing will ever change this. Like it or not, our society will always be patriarchal. The question is whether we have a bad patriarchy or a good one.

Quite simply, patriarchy is what men do with the physical power they have over women, children, and anyone possessing less strength than they. In bad patriarchies, evil men use that power to hurt and abuse the weak. In good patriarchies, righteous men use their power to protect and defend the weak, usually from evil men. Because evil men will always exist, the only way to transform a bad patriarchy into a good one is for righteous men to use their strength against evil men.

The Bible Teaches ‘Good Patriarchy’ Quite Clearly

This is taught quite clearly in the Bible. All of us, men and women alike, are conceived in sin and are hardwired to pervert our divinely given gifts in service of our evil impulses. When this happens, the solution to the problem is not for us to disavow those gifts altogether. Rather, it’s to use those gifts according to their original purpose. So when wicked men harden their hearts and pervert the gift of masculinity by using it against the weak, God calls faithful men to use their masculinity against the wicked in defense of the weak.

We see this in the Old Testament when Moses uses his strength to defend the daughters of Reuel from oppressive shepherds and when God commands the Israelites to use their might to kill any men who rape their wives or sacrifice children. Likewise, in the New Testament, God tells men to use their strength to protect their wives, even unto death, instead of terrorizing them, just as he tells them to pick up the sword and kill the enemies who threaten the innocent if the state delegates that authority to them.

In all of this, the biblical view of masculinity and patriarchy is quite clear: Men are physically stronger than women, so you’re going to get some kind of patriarchy. If you want a good one, good men need to conquer bad men with their masculinity.

Strangely, Gillette’s recent foray into woke advertising seems to make the same point. The bulk of the nearly two-minute ad shows us a variety of images associated with “toxic masculinity”—boys menacingly chasing a terrified classmate, text-message bullying, ugly behavior from violent boys, lecherous dudes, and condescending corporate overlords. A row of glazy-eyed men then justifies all of this by mindlessly repeating the mantra “boys will be boys.” But then the heroes arise, using their strength to protect the bullied and using their assertiveness to discourage lecherous catcallers.

The conclusion we’re meant to draw is simple. To stop bad men from using their strength and boldness against the weak, good men must use their strength and boldness against bad men. If men are going to be all they can be and build a holy patriarchy, good guys need use their masculinity to tear down the malevolent patriarchy forged by the baddies.

A Good Patriarchy Is At Odds With Woke Ideology

The odd thing about Gillette’s on-the-surface assertion, however, is that it doesn’t fit very well with the doctrine of the social justice warriors whose approval (and dollars) the company is trying to win. Sure, women are victims, according to progressive dogma, but they’re not damsels in distress, and Hera help anyone who suggests they need men to come to their rescue.

Likewise, in modern progressive thought, masculinity doesn’t become toxic through its corruption, but through purity. “Teach men not to rape” is social justice warrior shorthand for “in its natural state, masculinity is evil and cannot be redeemed until it is acted upon by an outside, sanctifying force.” On account of this, it seems rather heretical for Gillette to imply that more masculinity is the solution to the masculinity problem.

However, it’s important to remember that progressivism’s stated goal and actual goal are not the same. Despite a mountain of evidence indicating that women are less likely to be raped when they’re surrounded by husbands and fathers, progressives discourage men from fulfilling these vocations by scoffing at the value of both of them. Then, when bad men take advantage of the good men vacuum, progressives condemn the good guys for failing to intervene.

To put in the format of a popular meme:

Progressives: Men who want to protect their wives and daughters are trash.

Also progressives: Men who don’t want to protect their wives and daughters are trash.

Why the inconsistency? The answer is simple. Despite its protestations to the contrary, progressivism isn’t interested in ending patriarchy, but in using it to manufacture perpetual outrage against those it deems privileged and powerful. This is precisely the point of the Gillette commercial.

At first glance, the ad seems to share a Christian belief that men should use their strength to replace bad patriarchies with good ones. However, look a bit closer and you’ll see that Gillette has only confessed a Christian understanding of these things by accident, an unintended consequence of its attempt to engage in identity politics.

At the ad’s beginning, we hear journalists lamenting testosterone-fueled sins like bullying and sexual assault as we see men staring somberly into the mirror. Then a narrator, his voice oozing with regret, asks, “Is this the best a man can get?” before implying that the suffering some men cause is due to the collective refusal of all men to neuter our naturally malevolent masculinity.

In other words, “Men, you need to step up and end toxic masculinity” doesn’t mean, “Men, go out there and use your God-given gifts to fight the bad guys.” Rather, it means, “Men, you are all disgusting pigs who have messed up the world and it’s your fault if it doesn’t get cleaned up.”

This is not a commercial that is preparing men for battle, it’s preparing us for confession. Gillette isn’t trying to inspire men to be better fathers, husbands, brothers, or friends. It’s trying to intimidate us, gently whispering that we are, by nature, worthy of contempt and will remain as such until we redeem our masculinity by baptizing it in the waters of wokeness.

It’s Impossible to Teach Bad Men Not to Rape

When I was in college, a friend told me a story about a rough day she had while teaching an orientation class for freshmen. During the bit where you teach new students about consent, she told the young men in the group, “Just because a girl agrees to go to your room doesn’t mean she’s agreed to sex.”

“Yes, it does,” a rather imposing man responded. Ever the eager progressive, my friend attempted to correct this error by giving the uneducated behemoth the information that he lacked: “No, actually, you don’t have the right to have sex with a girl just because she entered your room.”

But the behemoth held his ground. He didn’t care what the university thought. He didn’t care what any prospective sexual conquests thought. In his mind, any girl who entered his room was fair game. And any girl who didn’t want to be fair game only had herself to blame.

Big, strong, evil men need to know that if they use their size and strength to do something evil, big, strong, righteous men will make them regret it.

At this point, befuddled by the evil, my friend turned to the other young women in the class and said, “Well, girls, don’t go up to this guy’s room.” By today’s progressive standards, she’d gone from “teach men not to rape” to victim-blaming in 2.4 seconds.

Here’s the moral of the story: Men who need to be taught not to rape can’t be taught not to rape. The only thing they can be taught is the fear of punishment. Big, strong, evil men need to know that if they use their size and strength to do something evil, big, strong, righteous men will make them regret it.

If we want our sons to grow up and become big, strong, righteous men, it’s important that they know this, so it’s important that we teach them the truth Gillette’s commercial accidentally confessed in its ploy to play the progressive blame game. Here it is.

Men don’t do evil things with their masculinity because they’re poisoned by testosterone, but because they’re corrupted by sin. So, when you grow up and encounter such men, don’t disavow your manliness. Embrace it and use it to defeat them as you pray for their conversion. Bad men will always be out there.

Because of this, it will always be your duty to destroy the bad patriarchy they’ve made and replace it with a good one. The best way to do that is to carry out whatever masculine vocations God has given you. Be a good solider, a good friend, a good brother, husband, and father, and God will use your hands and heart to give his protection to the powerless.

Do these things, and the patriarchy might just be a little bit holier the next time a consumer goods corporation decides to light the match of social justice and incinerate half of its customer base.

Hans Fiene is a Lutheran pastor in Illinois and the creator of Lutheran Satire, a series of comical videos intended to teach the Lutheran faith. Follow him on Twitter, @HansFiene.

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