What’s the Deal with ‘Toxic Masculinity’

If you were anywhere on social media in mid-January, you undoubtedly came across the new Gillette commercial.

The men (and women, interestingly enough) who were offended by the ad felt that the ad was disparaging masculinity or ‘what it means to be a man.’ The ad attempts to display images of ‘toxic masculinity’ such as a group of boys bullying a young boy, sexual harassment, and objectification of women. Unfortunately, there was a huge negative reaction to the ad, with many men and some women disparaging it on social media. 

Piers Morgan tweeted, “Let’s be clear: @gillette now wants every man to take one of their razors & cut off his testicles.”

The irony is that many of the responses to the ad pretty much demonstrated what the ad was about. But… the ad wasn’t about ‘men’ in general.  It was about ‘toxic masculinity.

The Good Men Project defines toxic masculinity as:

Toxic masculinity is a narrow and repressive description of manhood, designating manhood as defined by violence, sex, status and aggression. It’s the cultural ideal of manliness, where strength is everything while emotions are a weakness; where sex and brutality are yardsticks by which men are measured, while supposedly “feminine” traits – which can range from emotional vulnerability to simply not being hypersexual – are the means by which your status as “man” can be taken away.

Hopefully, the conversations that are being had around the Gillette commercial will shine a light on how it’s very limiting for men to be defined in such a narrow way, and actually does a disservice not only to women, but also to men. The commercial is not an attack on ‘men’ in general; it’s a commentary on the harmful effects of toxic masculinity and how we all – men and women – need to be aware of the ways in which it is perpetuated.

And toxic masculinity can work in very subtle ways, making its way into the bedroom. All too often we hear from patients who are engaging in frequent sex where they are not experiencing any pleasure, but they feel that it is their ‘obligation,’ so they ‘go along with it.’ This is the norm for far too many women who suffer through pain, discomfort, or boredom until the male orgasm is achieved.

At Maze, our goal is to increase women’s sexual enjoyment and pleasure. We look at a woman’s sexual life through her own perspective and then explore sexuality as a couple’s issue. This is a very unique approach to sex in our society, as what’s ‘normal’ in sex has been largely defined through the male lens.

Regardless of one’s opinion of the Gillette ad, the company certainly started a public conversation.  And it’s only through these conversations that change takes place.

Sex Therapy often includes education on how to enhance sexual pleasure. Call or contact us for a free phone consultation.

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