After being led through Stefanie Daubert’s “critical analysis” of the oddly controversial Gillette commercial (“COMMUNITY VOICES: The disappearance of 'masculinity' is harmful to society," Jan. 28), I am convinced that her perception of toxic masculinity is not the best a master’s in social work student can get.
Ms. Daubert clutches an unfounded assumption about why feminists are choosing to speak out. She mistakenly assumes that women are using toxic masculinity as a ruse to break the glass ceiling, not only to gain equality, but to “surpass (men) and make them feel less.” I do give Ms. Daubert kudos for believing that feminists are plotting a covert plan to take over the male-dominated power structures of the world, but in reality, this notion is just a play on fear. In fact, the very definition of feminism explains that its objective is to gain “equality of the sexes,” as opposed to getting revenge or achieving world domination.
She blames feminists for negating the decades of progress women have brought to the workforce in large numbers since the 1970s. I’m curious to know how she is quantifying this trend of diminished progress and exactly how she supposes women are losing in the workplace by “tearing men down.” I would like also to know who exactly these women are who’ve recently started slacking in the workplace due to this newly-minted weapon of “making men feel bad”?
At one point, Ms. Daubert states that “the commercial assumes that strong men who act like men are sexual harassers.” Let's sit with this for a moment. As seen in the Gillette ad, is wolf-whistling at women a sign of male strength and prowess? Most women will tell you that wolf-whistling is a cowardly means to obtain a women’s attention and communicate an insinuation of sexual desire. When a man grabs his house cleaner’s behind, as seen in the commercial, is it a characteristic of being a “real man,” or is it a punishable violation of the law, sometimes known as sexual harassment? (I would hope a social worker have a clear understanding of the legality here). To diminish these examples of inappropriate behavior under the guise of a feminist power grab not only ignores the facts, but grants permission for these behaviors to perpetuate in the same world in which we raise our children.
Stefanie Daubert is misinformed in arguing that feminists believe all men display the characteristics of toxic masculinity. In fact, quite a few of us who do want the culture of toxic masculinity to change are saying that the men we choose to love and allow into our lives are not displaying these unwanted behaviors. These men — our husbands, our friends and our trusted colleagues — are strong, but not because they live a narrow definition of what it means to be a man. The men we choose to love communicate with words rather than whistles, they respect our personal space and our boundaries, they treat us as equals in the workplace and they grant merit to our ideas and opinions. Most of the men in my life do not have the qualities of toxic masculinity, but this does not mean that it does not exist or that I have not experienced it, and furthermore no one group of people is ever beyond question.
Brooke Malley Ault has been an educator in the community for over 10 years. She obtained her bachelor's in political science, teaching credential and a master's in school counseling from CSUB. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.