Lost in the twitter chaos and YouTube backlash to that Gillette commercial – now the 5th most down voted video in YouTube history is something that really leaps out and grabs you by our apparent toxic natures:
Take a second look. No, it’s not that this commercial doesn’t actually bother discussing anything about shaving.
Catch that? The rolling around in the dirt, trying to get the best position and hold? It’s quite an ancient and historied activity throughout many cultures across the world since the beginning of time. Wrestling. In all of it’s forms. Olympians of old and new, rituals, state competitions, any old tussle in the backyard; it’s apparently a demonstration of the ever widening examples of toxic masculinity.
“They said you were touching girl’s asses,” the school’s principle, Diane, who had called me in for my transgressions. Luckily for me, she was a nice lady who was interested in at least hearing what this criminal had to say.
This was nonsense. I was just playing hard. What the hell was she talking about? We are playing sports together!
Reflecting On My Sins
In the end, I was blindsided and ended up fessing up to something I really hadn’t done, because I didn’t want to get in any more trouble. It was as if I had come out on top, but my victory had been tossed away due to steroid use.
My persecutors were two girls in particular who were actually both 8th graders, who also had a hard on for me that wasn’t sexual in the slightest, but rather one in which they vindictively felt better by helping to bully a kid like me who was already somewhat of an “outcast”. I knew it was them, but what could I do? It would be one of the first times I realized girls fought behind your back with words, unlike boys who would fight with fists before your eyes.
I hadn’t touched their asses as much as I had bumped into them or their boobs trying to catch the football before they did when we jumped in to the air. They wanted to play with us, afterall. I figured that if the girls wanted to play with the rest of us boys, we of course shouldn’t treat them any differently. I was very competitive and to quote A Day To Remember, “2nd Sucks,” and letting the girls who were also playing with us get the ball instead of me felt like a violation of what every boy usually wants when it comes to a competition; to win. In order to do that, I had to play hard.
Boy, was I wrong.
It didn’t even matter that I wasn’t really attracted to fine bootys, and still am not till this day. I remember explaining my situation to another classmate who related how he got in trouble for the same thing – though I don’t know if it was intentional, but now I suspect it wasn’t. Apparently I got off easier as I was becoming a charmer even at 12.
I was a spunky somewhat nerdy 6th grader, who liked to play hard. Yes, I was still a geeky booky nerd who enjoyed board & table top games along with PC games, but I liked to tumble, so to speak, and I was desperate to prove my capabilities to the rest of my classmates who still viewed my poorly groomed self as someone to be made fun of. Recess was my favorite part of school usually, and I looked forward to it as a way to finally get out of my seat and prove myself on the playground.
Soccer was very popular at my school, and we all played it. I knew that proving myself on the field during recess and lunch time would at least give me some measure of respect in the eyes of my “bully” who the soccer god at school and whose words shaped opinions on just about everything. It was one of my first exercises in masculinity – proving my worth.
This included the girls, some of them who were pretty damn good. At first, I would slide tackle them as I would anyone else, however when I did, I always received some kind of scorn if one of them got “hurt” during the tackle. Even if I was treating girls equally in how I played and competed with them, I was still “bad”, if they got hurt in the process. The “protector” instinct manifested itself with the rest of my male classmates and those who violated it – even in an unknown demonstration of “equality” on the playground – would know about it.
I can recall another time when another female teacher – she was a good lady – pulled me aside off the field after several of the girls playing along with us complained I was playing too hard and was acting “crazy” in my desire to win the ball back. She told me something along the lines of how she understand how I played hard, but the girls didn’t. Imagine me in a similar situation in the present day.
Now that I think about it, if I was now in sixth grade in a public school, I could have been accused of sexual harassment for my rough play. It didn’t even cross my mind at the time, but considering how hostile public schools now are to young males, I could have been railroaded because the teachers would have already assumed I was inappropriately touching female classmates during physical play at recess. Even more unfortunate is that with teachers and staff being 90% female, they might not understand the rough play isn’t sexual in nature, even if they have sons, because it is the age in which boys often have just hit puberty.
Even if they do realize the above and choose not to play with the girls, they can still get in trouble for excluding the girls, specifically if some demand to play with them. Of course the boys shouldn’t have to worry about the risks of accidentally touching or brushing up against them the wrong way, and should be happy to use the time as a reason to connect with those girls later and get to know them better. (At least that’s what I tried to do at the age because most girls didn’t like drawing pictures of Sonic , playing Tony’ Hawks Pro Skater 2, or nerding out to tabletop games.)
Occasionally, I’ll play floor hockey that’s technically “co-ed” on Sunday nights and I’ve noticed I’m afraid to play hard against any girls – the ones who actually show up – for fear that if they get hurt, I’ll be looked at like some form of Hitler.
Some co-ed sport activities aren’t a bad time, but if you want to unleash your inner competitive animal, it won’t happen when your afraid of accidentally hurting someone else’s wife or girl in front of the entire gym. The guys only floor hockey I played in a few times on Thursday’s demonstrated the satisfying feeling of not having to worry about holding back, so much so in fact, that there’s almost been a few fights with the smell of sweat rank in the air.
I feel bad for young boys today who want to play hard with their female classmates, but when they do, realize that there are unexpected consequences for embracing the “equality message” preached in schools, which wont be an acceptable defense when they end up brushing up against the ass of the wrong high-school queen who might exact vengeance through both white knights and school staff on the lookout for sexual harassment.
Note I went to a private Christian school for 6th grade, with well-meaning staff and teachers.
Inspiration from 2nd sucks comes from this song, which I will admit, moshing to anytime it’s played live.