It’s been 72 hours now since Gillette launched a new advertising campaign directed at the toxic masculinity in our society. Upon first viewing, I said to myself, “This is brilliant! But there’s gonna be one hell of a backlash!”
And I was spot on from the get go.
Through life, I’ve always been one to push the boundaries and explore my sexuality. As a teenager, I got into wearing make-up, dressing in odd clothing and listening to what was then considered, alternative music. I had found my niche. Unfortunately, my niche was quite small and my friends and I more often than not, found ourselves subjected to vile abuse and the occasional beating. On no less than eight occasions, I found myself waking up in hospital beds after being severely battered. Often, I was too scared to tell my family what happened because they didn’t approve of my lifestyle. Like a majority of Australian’s at the time.
When I stepped out for a night out, the abuse and threats were constant. They would call us queers, faggots, bum fuckers, pillow biters, cock benders, poofters and even a lot worse. We’d have objects thrown at us, refused service at bars, denied entry to venues, have security follow us in shopping centres, end up being harassed by Police officers and refused entry into buses and trains. It was a shit time but still, it was character building.
More than a few times we would find ourselves chased by Neo Nazi skin heads brandishing knives or simply just a group of drunk yobs who wanted to “bash some faggots”. Small things amuse small minds ey? Over time, I’d learnt to live my life in fear. The abuse and threats were so regular that you would spend a lot of your time looking over your shoulder. Quite often, people would tell us to get over it and harden up.
“If you want to dress like queers and faggots”, a nurse in A&E once told me after a beating, “You deserve every bashing you get!”
That was all predominantly in the 1990’s and early 2000’s now. I’ve managed to move comfortably into my 40’s and still be in one piece. For many woman today, that simply isn’t the case.
In 2019, woman are still being objectified, belittled, ridiculed, assaulted, raped, bashed and, as this week proved in Melbourne, murdered for simply being woman. The woman in our society are being told that there is no problem with toxic masculinity. It’s just “boys being boys” and all that. Rubbish!
As I grew older, more of my life began to include a lot of time spent in sporting and gym change rooms. This is where you see and hear it all. Photos being passed around, videos being shared, comments about which girl “needs a gang bang” and then some. I could spend an entire month writing about what I have seen and heard in these environments. It’s disgusting. It’s degrading. It’s vile and it simply has to stop!
Quite often, I wonder how the men and boys would feel if it was their own daughters photos being passed around that change room? Or what if it was their own wife or mother being subjected to gang rape “chat”? I used to keep quite during these conversations for fear of being hassled myself. I guess I was too scared to call out people who I considered my peers. When I began, some years later, to call men out on this, I’d be frowned upon and excluded from groups and clicks. One fellow referee who now officiates in the NRL and has touch judged at State of Origin level told me, “You must be a faggot if you have a problem with the way we talk about girls?”.
Toxic masculinity in full flight right there ladies and gents!
So, what’s changed to allow Gillette the window of opportunity to make the most compelling commercial in living memory?
The #metoo campaign has been a breath of fresh air in our world. Too many creeps have been getting away with too much for too long. It’s time more men were called out for their poor behaviour made an example of. The Gillette campaign itself has copped a lot of flack for pointing out exactly what is wrong with our society. Men are running scared and reacting poorly to the commercial because they know the game is up. You only have to look at the vile backlash Gillette are getting on social media to see the commercial is having a huge impact in our world. They know it’s time to start being better men, as the Gillette slogan says. Above all else, It’s time men stopped playing the victim and started taking responsibility for their actions. Inappropriate behaviour towards woman needs to stop and if you don’t understand this, you are going to be left behind.
Nobody should live their life in fear of anyone. Remember men, the next time you want to objectify a lady, remember this one important detail. That lady you are about to wolf whistle, grope and throw a lewd comment at is someone’s wife, someone’s daughter, someone’s mother. Would you accept that kind of behaviour if it was your loved one? I thought not…..