The BBC reports on how Gillette have tried to change their world famous tagline “the best a man can get” into the “the best a man can be” with their ad called Believe. Some people praise the company for its message whereas others are seriously unhappy about it. Some people think the company is unfairly attacking who men are.
The Independent reports on exactly what toxic masculinity is, and how some people who don’t like the ad think that it is criticising the behaviour of all men and exploiting customers by just jumping on the MeToo bandwagon. Below is a still from the ad where boys are fighting, and at first a father figure comments that “boys will be boys”.
Toxic masculinity can be described as harmful behaviour and attitudes commonly associated with some men. You might know about it when you’ve heard expressions like, “boys shouldn’t cry” or if boys are really loud, boisterous and making others uncomfortable, “boys will be boys”. In recent years there has been a lot of information about how parents and society shouldn’t be bring up boys in a way which creates a masculine macho stereotype – toxic masculinity.
A few weeks ago the BBC broadcast a comedy short , called Leading Lady Parts. It only lasts 10 minutes so is worth a watch, and is simply a satirical look at the audition process for the role of Leading Lady. It was written and directed by Jessica Swale, and boasts an award-winning cast of Gemma Arterton, Gemma Chan, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Tom Hiddleston, Felicity Jones, Katie Leung, Stacy Martin, Wunmi Mosaku, Florence Pugh, Catherine Tate and Anthony Welsh.
The British Film Institute studied over 10,000 UK movies from 1911-2017 to produce a study of gender disparity in film:
The video is filled to the brim with religious imagery…
Ariana Grande is at the center of the universe as some sort of enormous godlike figure, hula-hooping the galaxy that surrounds her.
Then she is naked and partially submerged in a pool of pink and purple paint
She dances inside the flame of a candle
She is worshipped by a choir dressed in all-white robes.
She sits on top of the world, touching provocatively the eye of a hurricane potentially considering natural evil
At the end there is the all-female recreation of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam which replaces Adam with Eve and God with Ariane Grande
There is also Mother Earth imagery when Grande descends a mountain and strokes her growing, animated pregnant belly
Ariane walks a tightrope against an all-pink backdrop where you might think she’s holding balloons but actually she’s holding a cluster of planets.
Then there’s a spoken-word assist from Madonna, when Grande, wearing gloves that read “POWER” mouths Madonna’s reading of Ezekiel 25:17, the verse made famous by Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, replacing “brothers” with “sisters”: “And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my sisters. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.”
However the song is obviously about sexual relationships: “You love it how I move you / You love it how I touch you / My one, when all is said and done / You’ll believe God is a woman.” Ariana doesn’t seem to mind if people ‘don’t get it’ as at one point in the video, she sits whilst small men hurl words like bitch, fake, and annoying at her. These words of criticism just bounce right off her.
It is really controversial to refer to the Christian God in female rather than male terms. Some would even call it blasphemy and against the Decalogue (Ten Commandments). Most versions of the Bible and language about God has God as male. However there is some history to speaking about God as female. St Anselm, the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109, talked of “Christ, my mother”.
A stay at home father has complained about the sexism he has faced when looking after his daughter. Matthew Jenkin points out that even the names of many activities are usually targeted at mothers only, when in reality a father could easily join in if he wished: “Mum and yoga”, “Mum and baby salsa”, “Mum and me ballet”, “Mum and baby crawler”. Meanwhile all of the groups for fathers are scheduled for the weekend only.
Another example of sexism against men are how the health retailer Superdrug’s website, has a ‘mother and baby’ section but no such alternative section for men. A single dad, Dave Darby wrote on his Facebook page: “I find this somewhat derogatory towards fathers and their children and respectfully ask that this is changed to parent and baby. thus making it politically correct and also Superdrug acknowledging that men can also be single parents.”
The author David Benatar has further examples of sexism against men. Firstly that social norms mostly encourage men, but rarely women, into military conscription and combat, causing millions of men to die or suffer physically and psychologically. This is true of World War I and II in Britain. Secondly he says the male disadvantage in terms of child custody in divorce cases, paternity leave, and thirdly the shorter life expectancy of men as compared to women.
Sometimes the language we use is unfair towards men and boys too. When we say things like “Boys don’t cry,” and “Stop being such a pussy.” Boys do cry and using the word “pussy” as an insult hurts women too. This is basically idealising some hyper masculinity which begins with re-enforcing a stereotype that boys and men are supposed to live in or else they aren’t Real Men.
There is a word for sexism against men: misandry. Misandry is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against men or boys. Either “misandrous” or “misandristic” can be used as adjectival forms of the word.
You can even see examples of misandry in historical sources:
Look carefully at the cheques these two surf champions have just received as prize money. Notice anything?
The winners of the boys and girls 2018 Billabong Junior Series’ Ballito Pro event posed for this photograph which once posted on social media has created wide scale criticism. It has put gender equality back into the spotlight.
In defence of the organisers of the event, a spokesperson Will Hayden-Smith said that prize money was partly determined by the number of entrants. There were twice as many male surfers as female ones: 36 compared to 18. To keep the same money-per-surfer ratio for men and women, the prize money for the female winner had to be half as much as the men. Do you think this is a fair system? Does everything have to be fair?
An Egyptian-American journalist called Mona Eltahawy recently talked about her experience of sexual assault during Hajj in 2013. Since then #MosqueMeToo has started to grow. Muslim men and women from all round the world have been using the hashtag and in less than 24 hours it was tweeted 2,000 times.
Each year about 2 million Muslims undertake Hajj which is one of the five pillars of Islam. Going on this special pilgrimage should not involve being inappropriately touched or having someone rub against you in the crowd, things which have been reported using the #MosqueMeToo on Twitter. Some women have said they were fearful of publicising the harassment and sexual assaults incase it fuelled more Islamophobia.
Reading the BBC article you’ll stumble across key GCSE words such as:
Knowing that Hajj is a pilgrimage and one of the Five Pillars is not enough for the GCSE. You’ll need to know what the different parts of the Hajj are and why pilgrims participate in them. This isn’t a waste of time because by learning about Hajj you’ll understand some key stories of Islam about Ibrahim and discover Muslim beliefs about faith and forgiveness. These short videos from the BBC are a quick way to get that information. Type Hajj into this wordpress’ SEARCH engine and you’ll find previous links for Hajj too.
Umrah is the lesser pilgrimage made by Muslims to Mecca, which may be performed at any time of the year, and isn’t one of the five pillars so you don’t have to do it in your lifetime. In May 2017 football player Paul Pogba went on Umrah to say his thanks for Manchester United’s Europa League win.
Tawaf (Arabic: طواف) is one of the principal actions of the pilgrimage and refers to walking in circles around the Kaaba in an anti-clockwise motion. Seven complete circuits, with each one starting and ending at the Hajar al-Aswad (Black Stone), constitute one Tawaf. It is an act of devotion intended to bring the pilgrim closer to God spiritually. It is the only principal action of Hajj and Umrah which is not associated directly with acts of worship performed by the Prophet Ibrahim.
The Hijab is one type of headscarf which Muslim women might wear to maintain a modest look so that their hair and body is not on show in public. Some people believe that what a woman wears can affect whether she is harassed in public. In Iran where women have to wear the hijab by law, a popular slogan on the walls of public buildings is “Hijab is not a limitation, it is your protection.”
10th November is ‘Equal Pay Day’ because from this day onwards until the end of the year women work for free because of that difference in average pay between men and women of 18.4%. Some women to try and raise awareness of this pay difference have even set their email response to be ‘out of office’ until December 31st!
In North Thanet the pay gap is a bigger 20.9% so Natasha Ransom a self-employed gardener has set up an ‘out of office’ voicemail on her phone, explaining; “I’m doing it to support those on lower wages – I work for a lot of elderly people whose [female] carers are on such poor wages.”
There is even evidence that the pay gap in the UK is growing not getting smaller. This is especially true for young women where the pay gap for those in their 20s has grown from 1.1% in 2011 to 5.5% this year.
Closing the gender pay gap is about equality. It should matter to everyone. It could be you, your sister, best friend, cousin or mum. It’s just not fair and at least the 10th November puts a spotlight on this inequality.