It’s a frustrating moment for feminism and confusing time for young men. In the wake of #MeToo, masculinity has become an explosive topic. Advertising’s hyper-masculine “ideal” has both reflected and contributed to the formation of what’s recently been dubbed “toxic masculinity” – the catch-all term for extreme gender performance in men, covering traits like dominance, emotional unavailability, and sexual aggression. Probably it’s the right moment to drag male stereotypes in marketing out of the ’80s and into a more inclusive discourse.
Read more about the “New Masculinity” in the 2019 Think Forward report by ‘we are social’. Here are some highlights from the report:
TALK LIKE A REAL MAN _ A more nuanced approach to targeting men in advertising is essential not only for the continuation of the detoxifying masculinity movement but to properly resonate with modern male consumers as well. Consider the underlying messages coming through in your comms, and the roles men play in them. Diversifying the vision of masculinity you offer will speak to a more diverse consumer.
SQUASH GENDER STEREOTYPES _ Where most women grew up surrounded by Barbie and skinny models, men had Action Man and buff superheroes. There’s a growing understanding of how a man’s mental health is affected by impossible ideals in the same way as a woman’s. Consider diversifying the types of men shown in your advertising, and avoid equating things like muscularity and height to masculinity.
DETOXIFY WITH CARE _ If as a brand you decide to stand against toxic masculinity, be nuanced in your messaging, as it could backfire. Not all masculinity is toxic. And many men feel attacked by the backlash. Social media often becomes a battleground for this debate. Don’t let your channels get caught in the crossfire.