Sam Burnham, Curator
About that Gillette ad...
I think I'm seeing what they were trying to say. There’s a standard that we as a society should hold men to. There is an expectation for the conduct of a man that does often go unmet.
I think there is a communication breakdown when it comes to the topic of masculinity and proper male role models. With the presence of a radical feminist movement who frequently uses misandry and a definition of “toxic masculinity” that leaves no place for strong and effective men in our society, people react when they see yet another assault on men.
I think Gillette could have communicated their message better and I think people could have listened better.
My takeaway at this point, after some thought and reflection is this: Not all criticism of male behavior is intended to drag all men down. Not all feminists are radical misandrists. Not all masculinity is toxic. In fact, true masculinity is never toxic.
Masculinity is about strength, leadership, and being a role model for young men. It’s about using strength in a constructive and protective way. The men who stormed the beaches of Normandy weren’t bullies coming to harass the Germans. They were there to defend Western Civilization from a toxic usurper. There’s a line that separates playful roughhousing and malicious bullying. There’s a line between the idea of dating and courtship and the menace of sexual harassment- and BOTH sides on the argument need to understand that.
I’ve spent almost half my life, thus far, raising three men. Just yesterday the oldest became a United States Navy sailor. He and his brothers make me proud beyond words. They are strong, have courage in their convictions, expect the best from others, despise bullying, respect ladies, and offer help to those in need. They are gentlemen.
They're gentlemen because we’ve raised them that way.
I have a guide that I follow. It was composed using the teachings of Christ, the understanding of what should be expected of a man, and by a man who was tasked with mentioning and leading men. He’s often demonized today. His effect on the American left is so strong they take a few associative flaws and attempt to discard him as a whole. It is striking that when held up against him, any male leader in the American left pales in comparison.
General Robert Edward Lee, who was born on this day in 1807 gave us his timeless Definition of a Gentleman. It is the standard I’ve held my boys to. It is the standard we need to hold all American men to today. It is the line between true masculinity and the toxic pseudo-masculinity that would poison our entire society. No matter how far they march, how hard they try, this issue will never be solved by feminism. It can only be solved by men who fit this definition expecting other men to fit it as well. I’ll conclude with his definition in its entirety:
"The forbearing use of power does not only form a touchstone, but the manner in which an individual enjoys certain advantages over others is a test of a true gentleman.
The power which the strong have over the weak, the employer over the employed, the educated over the unlettered, the experienced over the confiding, even the clever over the silly--the forbearing or inoffensive use of all this power or authority, or a total abstinence from it when the case admits it, will show the gentleman in a plain light
The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him. He cannot only forgive, he can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of character which impart sufficient strength to let the past be but the past. A true man of honor feels humbled himself when he cannot help humbling others."
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire