Seventh Grade Grammar and a Gillette Ad about “Toxic Masculinity”
Twitter is full of fury today, claiming Gillette’s ad about “toxic masculinity” is an attack against men in general. However, applying basic, seventh grade grammar shows why this accusation is illogical.
In Gillette’s ad, “toxic” is an adjective modifying the noun “masculinity.” By definition, adjectives distinguish a noun’s type.
By using an adjective+noun construction, Gillette was specifying which sort of masculinity is harmful.
If you will look at the photo included with this post, you will see how switching an adjective changes the noun. Gillette’s ad compares toxic masculinity with healthy masculinity. It calls America to the latter.
Gillette is not demeaning masculinity in general. It’s not accusing all men of being monsters.
It is asking our nation to grow a healthy masculinity—one that protects others with strength instead of harming or using them.
Hopefully this week’s brouhaha is a simply result of a gross misunderstanding, another knee-jerk in a trigger-happy world primed to rage. From what I’ve read on social media, it seems like a lot of folks misread the title, made assumptions, and roared before thinking. While America is top-down full of sloppy, reactive Tweeters, I can’t quite believe we want our men to be violent, disrespectful abusers. Surely, we’re better than that.