Gillette ad cuts deep into male ego

The following piece was published by DW Business. You can read it here.

Gillette’s latest ad featuring men behaving badly has sparked a furious response from commentators. Men have every reason to be upset. They should be encouraged to express their feelings.

Some men are so upset they’re throwing their razors away. Anything to avoid sissy stubble! Even if it does mean looking like a Neanderthal.

Speaking of Neanderthals, they had it good, didn’t they?

In the cave, the scripts were crystal clear. Men hunted and women gathered. Nothing to be ashamed of there. And the cave ladies always had a smile for you when you returned from the kill.

Oh, but those were the days! When the biggest threat to your ego came from a bear and not a blade. When women used their creativity to make jam out of juniper berries. Not ads based on their everyday experiences.

1024px-gillette_mach3_razor_from_indonesia,_2015-08-03

Attribution: Wikimedia Commons User: Crisco 1492 Picture features Gillette Mach 3Razor blade

It’s almost enough to make you well up like those effeminate men in the Gillette ad.

What’s their problem anyway? What reason have they to contemplate their identity while a montage of sexual harassment from the real world and film plays in their minds?

The enlightened commentator Piers Morgan, himself on the brink of growing a beard, has it right. “Let boys be damn boys & men be damn men – and stop this damaging war on masculinity,” he tweeted.

 

Hear, hear.

And, truth be told, this is a war. Not the traditional kind for which our bodies are routinely sacrificed. They’re the good ones. At least they feature real tanks. The PC brigade steered by hairy feminists howling “sexism” is far more pernicious. And Gillette, by allowing it to pass into the exclusively male world of grooming, has gone too far.

There is no safe space left.

The least they could have done is issue a trigger warning. Even a gun, which is far less threatening to masculinity, has one.

“The following ad may force you to contemplate yourself in a negative light,” it could have said at the beginning, allowing you to skip watching and cut straight to the comments section.

But no, just as you’d man-spread yourself out on the couch expecting your favorite razor blade producer to offer the usual suggestion of a connection between a good shave and sporting prowess, they delivered something truly heinous: an appeal to your conscience.

It’s these architects of reflection who are the real enemy in the #metoo era.

Those who dare to examine our fragility. To point out our weaknesses. To call us out for our misbehavior.

Because, you see, it hurts!

It hurts to realize that you might be complicit in a culture of degradation not just of girls and women but of boys and men.

It hurts to think that the time you whistled at a girl or made a suggestive comment to a waitress might have been inappropriate. It hurts to think that you’ve spoken over your female colleague, or taken the credit for her ideas. That you may have belittled boys who didn’t conform to your ideal of what a man should be. Or tried to mold them into a mini version of yourself.

It hurts to see yourself as a villain.

So allow yourself to hurt. Be like a snowflake and have the courage to reflect on the world around you.

Let that anger melt away. Turn it into the best it can be. And remember that no matter how well you wear that beard, the Neanderthals who inspired it are now extinct.

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Kate Katharina WLTM …

Tree-loving, anxiety-riddled Irishwoman, GSOH, seeks literary fling with stranger on the Internet. Specifically, to read first 20,000 words of her novel and discuss if desired.

Ideal respondent is dispassionate enough to crush dreams if necessary but with no vested interest in doing so. Trolls (though the most loyal of all readers) need not apply.

Detailed feedback not required, and novel relationship may be terminated with no hard feelings. Long-term literary relationship not ruled out, as long as LSH approves.

And now in plain English:

Writing a novel is torturous! I’ve no idea if what I’ve done is any good at all. But you might! If you’re one of the lovely people who’ve been reading and commenting on my blog over the last few years and feel like you’d like to get your literary teeth into something rough and ready, please let me know! You can e-mail or tweet me. Send a pigeon if you will!

Also, if you enjoyed reading about Frau B, you might find it interesting. It’s not about her (I promise!) but it’s set in a nursing home. I can’t guarantee anything but I hope one or two bits might make you smile.

I don’t need any fancy literary criticism. I’d just like an honest answer to the questions: Did you like it? Hate it? Something in between? And: would you read on? If you can also say why, then we could be literary friends for life!

Also: the reason I’m looking for strangers is because friends are too nice. They say kind things because they know the truth might make you throw away your quill or close over your laptop forever in despair.

 

The only Iraqi man I’ve ever met.

I wrote this piece on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning when news of the withdrawal was still in the headlines. Today I clicked on to BBC news to see that co-ordinated bomb attacks in Bagdhad had killed 63 and injured around 185.

A couple of years ago, I sat opposite an Iraqi man while he cursed at me. I was volunteering with an asylum-seeker mentorship programme and I was supposed to be teaching him English. He was showing me video images of bombings in his town that he’d taken on his mobile phone. He had a brutal glare and I was scared of him. He was hissing something at me that I can’t recall. I remember his eyes were lit up and that I didn’t know what to say. There was another student at the table, fidgeting.

I thought of him when the war in Iraq was declared over last week. And then again when I listened to a commentator on Pat Kenny talk about how the withdrawal of American troops was muted, because the operation hadn’t been a success.

In 2006 the UN estimated that over one hundred Iraqi civilians a day were being killed. In the end the number for that year turned out to be 34,000, amounting to 93 per day. On a single day in November, 200 died in an attack on Baghdad. According to antiwar.com, 4484 US soldiers lost their lives since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The last fatality was on November 14, just before Thanksgiving.

And there was the suicide of David Kelly in July 2003. I remember watching the coverage of the Hutton Inquiry in my pyjamas and wondering what a “sexed-up” dossier was.

In 2006 I was starting university. I counted balancing writing essays on Jane Austen with late nights out as one of my greatest concerns. I didn’t lose sleep over the 93 a day.

And yet, like everyone else, one of my biggest fears is losing somebody I love. It’s impossible to imagine the suffering of war, the little dominoes of grief tumbling as one life after another falls to pieces.

I follow the official blog of the British troops in Afghanistan. They use a WordPress account, like this one. Every few days the death of a soldier is announced, with a short bio, featuring his or her military rank and how their death occurred. You can leave comments. People do.

It makes me realise how little I know about the world, how, against the odds, my life has occurred in a peaceful place at a peaceful time. I don’t give thanks for this often enough.

I’ve no idea if the Iraqi was granted asylum. Most likely, he’s still in a centre somewhere, awaiting his hearing and measuring his life out in insipid cantine meals.