Just as “white male” has become a total epithet, the word “male” is also fraught with negative connotations. Obviously with ample justification when it comes to workplace sexism. Hence this Gillette ad, obviously made with an assumption that guys have a lot of bad stuff to make up for, and that now is the time to man up and fix that shit.
I feel two ways about this ad. On one hand it seems reasonable enough — I’ve always hated belligerent, beered-up machismo — but on another level primal male energy (conquest, courage, brawn, a willingness to fight battles and do dirty work) has always played an essential role in societies throughout history, and you don’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
We’re obviously in a de-balling phase now (certainly in urban circles) and a concurrent rise in feminist power and influence. Outside of unfortunate social side-effects like the withdrawal of Hollywood Elsewhere’s press pass at the newly feminized Sundance Film Festival, this is probably for the best. These things happen in cycles. Then again…aahh, I don’t know what to think.
Consider the following Camille Paglia statement in a 2017 Vice interview: “One of my persistent quarrels with second-wave feminism is how male-bashing became its default mode from the start. Men have every right to determine their own identities, interests, and passions without intrusive surveillance and censorship by women with their own political agenda. [They] should be free to carry on and carouse there and say whatever the hell they want to each other, without snoops outside the door ready to report them to the totalitarian sexual harassment office.”
Paglia is the author of “Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, and Feminism.”