Fayetteville, AR – -(AmmoLand.com)- Procter and Gamble’s Gillette brand stepped into the middle of controversy with a recent ad meant to respond to the #MeToo movement months after the fact, along with other aspects of masculinity in the modern world. It is the typically safe product of a corporation trying to sound woke, but even so, it has managed to draw the ire of many in the right wing who see it as an attack on being male.
The two concerns of the ad are bullying among children and harassment of women by men. These are certainly problems that need to be addressed, and it’s well past time to deal with them. But the question is how to go about that.
The solution according to Gillette is that men—in need of a shave or not—should police our own. Take the implicit assumption here—our present conception of masculinity is the problem—as a given for a moment. I must have missed the notice that wrongdoers will correct themselves if we ask them politely—excepting Wall Street, of course.
As a gun owner who writes in defense of the ownership and carry of firearms, I have some suggestions. No, dear gun grabbers, I am not about to recommend that we shoot anyone. Instead, I’m going to offer three answers that come out of my understanding of rights and responsibilities in a free society.
— Gillette (@Gillette) January 14, 2019
Bullying is a problem in schools. It is an act of violence against innocents, and this is something that a just society cannot accept. We also have an obesity crisis among American youth. See where I’m going with this? Some basic martial arts training sounds like a good physical education program to me. This would allow children to learn an effective means of fighting back when someone decides to initiate violence against them. Won’t the bullies get the same skills? Yes, but bullies are cowards. Like many adult criminals, they want easy targets. Practicing a discipline develops a sense of confidence and ability, something that helps people stand up and stand together against those who feel entitled to abuse others. We’d have to rework zero tolerance policies to recognize that fighting back is different from starting a fight, but that’s a feature, not a bug.
That leads me to my second point, the national conversation that we need to have about the nature of rights. Each person has individual rights—which include the right to be left in peace so long as the person treats others the same way—and bullying and harassment are both violations of those. As we’re teaching children to defend themselves, we must also explain to them that not having to do so is preferable, and the more of us who keep to the principle that whatever we don’t want to be done to us is something that we shouldn’t do to others, the better off we’ll all be. Schools are increasingly subjected to testing of the lowest order of learning, but one of the primary jobs that elementary and secondary education have is to teach students how to interact with others in a civilized manner.
My last point asks us to think rightly about more than just rights. The phrase associated with the actions condemned in Gillette’s commercial is “toxic masculinity.” This is akin to “assault weapon” and other proliferations of verbiage that make a mess by attempting to sweep up too much. Masculinity is neither good nor bad, and initiating violence or harassing women is not inherently a male act. They’re just bad behavior and should be called that.
Gillette has come late to the discussion, and their contribution was a solid commitment to saying nothing new and nothing particularly challenging. So welcome to the party, Gillette. We’re clearing up, but there may be a beer left in the cooler on the back porch.
About Greg Camp
Greg Camp has taught English composition and literature since 1998 and is the author of six books, including a western, The Willing Spirit, and Each One, Teach One, with Ranjit Singh on gun politics in America. His books can be found on Amazon. He tweets @gregcampnc.