The strength of the American Solidarity Party will always be our passionate defense of our four principles of respect for life, social justice, environmental stewardship, and a more peaceful world. However, it can also come from how we respectfully argue our positions on other issues that challenge our communities. Here ASP member Grace Garrett offers these thoughts about capitalism and toxic masculinity.
Toxic Capitalism Won’t Solve Toxic Masculinity
By Grace Garrett
From the Platform:
“We believe that the U.S. economy should be built around the needs of the human person, rather than focused primarily on consumption and the accumulation of wealth. It should create opportunities for self-sufficiency, while encouraging ownership of our responsibility to look out for one another.”
You’ve got to hand it to Gillette: they really managed to rile people up about mid-range razors. They ran an advertisement which addressed toxic masculinity and the #metoo movement, and suddenly some antifeminists on Twitter are flushing their razors down the toilet.
So, at least for the sake of your plumbing, step away from the razor and let’s take a moment to discuss how we got here. Despite the term “feminist” being used as a ubiquitous epithet, as a feminist, I love men. It’s the culture of toxic masculinity that hates men. A short definition of toxic masculinity would be that toxic masculinity is the way misogyny hurts men. Toxic masculinity tells men to eschew “feminine” behaviors, so that they can’t cry; they can’t rest when they’re hurt or sick; they can’t be nurturing as fathers or lovers; if they’re raped or assaulted, they can’t report it; and when toxic masculinity has had its way with men, they’re left with shocking rates of disability, suicide, addiction, failed relationships, criminality, and overall dissatisfaction with their lives. Men are separated from their most virtuous selves when they are under the influence of toxic masculinity.
But do you know where this culture of misogyny comes from? Toxic capitalism. Toxic capitalism tells men that they need to provide more stuff or they’re doing an inadequate job. If their wives aren’t driving their own nice cars and their kids aren’t in the best private schools, according to toxic capitalism, they have failed as men. Toxic capitalism bombards us with images of women in bikinis splayed on the new Corvette and advertises first-class seats with the bodies of nubile flight attendants. Toxic capitalism knows that violence and rage are addictive and fills our televisions and consoles with unspeakable acts of violence. Toxic capitalism gives men and women jobs that drain the life out them without any sense of ownership nor any hope of financial security, in order to maximize profits for the élite. Many men have been left feeling emasculated; they were taught that a real man provides for his family, and now that they are failing to do so, they amp up other attributes of traditional masculinity such as aggression or sexual pursuit in unhealthy ways.
Advertisements from huge companies—like Gillette’s parent company, Procter & Gamble—definitionally follow the culture and appeal to what is already trending to attract potential customers. Advertisements do not drive the culture; they simply co-opt the values which are already popular in our culture in order to make a profit. Procter & Gamble is a beneficiary and proponent of toxic capitalism with a 287:1 CEO to worker pay ratio and a history of working with vendors who utilize slave labor. Procter & Gamble is not going to save us from toxic masculinity; it’s not going to give workers ownership of the work of their hands or stop objectifying women in its advertisements. When the culture moves on from the #metoo moment, so will Procter & Gamble.
At the end of the day, those of us who are invested in a more humane culture should take a moment to be grateful that Gillette didn’t advertise their razors with a pornified image of a woman twerking on a razor, playing into the “commodification and exploitation” of human beings arising from the easy access to pornography which our platform so wisely condemns, or with some “be a real man, get in a fist fight” nonsense. This advertisement, as false as it may be, is a step in the right direction. But we cannot depend on fickle corporate advocacy to remain “woke” and respectful.
We in the American Solidarity Party often joke that we are political unicorns. We are for the family, and for robust support of “measures that promote stable and healthy marriages and aid families in the raising of children” which are commonly associated with the American right wing, for policies that allow access to high quality childcare and accommodations for working parents, which are further left, and for “the right of workers to be compensated for the wealth they create and to participate in economic decision-making” and the promotion of worker-owned coöperatives, which brings us far outside of the realm of the toxic capitalism that Procter & Gamble practices. But these positions are part of the same abiding opposition to dehumanization. We want men and women to be whole, and we oppose societal and economic forces which make that wholeness less attainable.
“Woke” advertising campaigns are all well and good, but let’s not forget that advertisers can only reflect the culture we create. We need to use the Gillette advertisement to remind ourselves that we will never be truly liberated from toxic masculinity until we are liberated from toxic capitalism. Yes, the work of true liberation is harder than buying a “virtuous” razor at CVS, but the dividends for the men and women we love are abundantly worth the effort.